6 min read

Art of Magic the Gathering: Zendikar Review

616htZPxvvL._SX442_BO1,204,203,200_TitleArt of Magic: The Gathering – Zendikar
Author: James Wyatt
Publisher: Viz Media
Language: English
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 240
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Today, the world of trading/community cards games has grown in size and popularity. Games such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Hearthstone rank among the most popular, but there is still one king of the card game scene and it is the one that has, not only, been around the longest, but is the one responsible for the boom in popularity of any game that has followed in its footsteps and that, of course, is Magic: The Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering, published by Wizards of the Coast, is an in-depth trading card game that has been available to play since 1993, but was actually conceptualized in 1991. In Magic, you have your choice of five different mana types and you build a deck of 60 cards with that mana type. If you’re advanced, you can mix and match mana types in any combination. If you want to create an all red mana agro deck (referred to as RDW or Red Deck Wins), you can. You can also create an all-black mana Zombie deck, a green mana ramp deck, or mix and match like a humans-only red/white deck (referred to as Boros Humans after the Red/White Boros guild in Magic lore.).

Different magic types also lend to different playstyles. Where red is spell-heavy and aggressive, blue is more controlling. You can counter spells or even mill their deck leaving them with little cards to play with. There are a LOT of combinations in Magic and the only thing that limits you is your imagination. Find a concept, build and synergize a deck around that concept and have fun!

Of course, imagination may be your limitation when building decks, but in order to build decks you need cards. Wizards of the Coast have hired some of the most talented artists to exercise their imaginations to bring these cards to life through their artwork and illustrations. Typically, whether it be video games, anime, television series, or in this case, card games, a company will publish an art book to showcase the work of the artists. More often than not an art book will be just that… a book full of art. You will typically find these kind of books bundled with collector’s editions of video games and while the art is beautiful, people are usually left feeling a bit empty.

Wizards of the Coast ensures that you don’t with its latest release Art of Magic: The Gathering – Zendikar. This is more than just a simple art book; it is a well-detailed look into not only Zendikar, but the world in which Magic: The Gathering exists. Not only does the book feature page after page of gorgeous artwork, but it also goes in-depth about the Planeswalkers and the Multiverse, it dives into the lore of the inhabitants of Zendikar and their history and how some of them came to be, the regions of Zendikar, even a bestiary of all the different types of living beings you will find in this plane.

Let’s take a look at some of the sections!

Planes of the Multiverse

Here is where you are given a short, 2-page introduction to the world of Magic: The Gathering. They talk about Planeswalkers, the different realms within Magic such as Innistrad, New Phyrexia, Ravnica, etc. They also talk about the five different kinds of mana in Magic (which are Red, White, Blue, Green, and Black.) This is your basic intro and a great way to start off the book. Turning the page we dive right into the meat and potatoes of what this book has to offer!

The World of Zendikar

Here they talk about Zendikar itself… a land of perilous risks balanced with great rewards. The inhabitants claim that the world itself is trying to kill the very creatures that call it home. It paints a wonderful picture of this land, its harsh and varying climates and really drives home the feeling that this is not an ideal place to spend your summer vacation. Zendikar is a place where only the strong and adaptable will survive.

This is all thanks to a phenomenon known as The Roil. The Roil has constantly shaped Zendikar through its tectonic activities and extreme weather. Dust storms, tornadoes, tidal waves, sinkholes, and many other events can be attributed to The Roil.

The region of Murasa

ArtOfMagic-Zendikar-p119

© 2015 Wizards

The Binding of the Eldrazi

The Eldrazi are interplanar titans that travel from realm to realm through the Aether. Three of them have been bound to Zendikar: Ulamog, Kozilek, and Emrakul. The book goes into how these Eldrazi were bound and then gives us a nice in-depth look at each titan and their broodlings. It is also here that were are given some history on Sorin Markov, the oldest living Planeswalker after Nicol Bolas, and the role he played in the binding of the Eldrazi. Sorin is also a popular card in Magic and can be found in many black magic vampire decks.

The Eldrazi Titan: Kozilek

ArtOfMagic-Zendikar-p27

© 2015 Wizards

The Races of Zendikar

The next section talks about the different races that inhabit Zendikar which are the Humans, Kor, Merfolk, Vampires, Goblins, Elves, and the Eldrazi. Each race is given their own detailed history which includes their origins and how they have adapted and evolved to where they are in the present day. It’s a nice look into their cultures and it really captures the diversity among each of the inhabitants.

Gideon Jura is ready for battle

ArtOfMagic-Zendikar-p50_51

© 2015 Wizards

The Regions of Zendikar

From the jagged mountain peaks of Akoum, to the twisted, humid swamps of Guul Draz, Wizards of the Coast takes you on a trip around the world of Zendikar and explores its many different regions. It doesn’t just show you these regions with amazing art, but it also goes in-depth on what life is like in each of the regions, the notable landmarks you can find there, each region’s history and lore, and even details some of the significant events that have transpired in each region.

I’ve always been a fan of areas that are inundated by water so out of all the regions, my favorite is Tazeem. Wide rivers, huge springs, and mist-covered lakes paint a watery picture of the land of Tazeem. The artwork depicts various cliffs and waterfalls, lush forests, and everything you would expect from a world flowing with water. The Merfolk and Elves are found here and anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sucker for elves so that’s just a personal bonus for me when flipping through the pages and witnessing Tazeem.

The cliffs of Akoum

ArtOfMagic-Zendikar-p92_93

© 2015 Wizards

Rise of the Eldrazi

This section further explores the Eldrazi and what happened when they arrived on Zendikar. It talks about the various Planeswalkers that played significant roles in dealing with the threat of the Eldrazi now that they have been released from their bonds. Gideon Jura, Nissa Revane, Chandra Nalaar, Kiora, Sarkhan Vol, Ob Nixilis, and my personal favorite, Jace Beleren are all detailed here in this section.

 

Jace Beleren, the Mind Sculptor

jace

© 2015 Wizards

The book discusses each Planeswalker’s origin as well as their purpose here in Zendikar and what role they look to play in stopping the unbound Eldrazi. Each planeswalker is accompanied by a magnificent piece of art that showcases them brilliantly. Even though Jace is my favorite Planeswalker in Magic, art-wise, the winner has to go to Sarkhan Vol. Sarkhan Vol is a dragon worshipper and has spent his life searching for a dragon he could follow. He met the Planeswalker Nicol Bolas and decided to swear fealty to him. Vol’s artwork is exceptional with the fiery eyes, pale skin tone, and accompanying black and red garb. It truly captures Vol’s image and character, but more importantly, his personality.

Bestiary and Cards

The book then closes out with a magnificent bestiary, detailing each kind of creature that you can find in Zendikar. After the bestiary, it gives you a look at the original Zendikar cards as well as some from the Battle of Zendikar expansion.

Sphinx of the Final Word

sphinx

© 2015 Wizards

If you love art… if you love lore… and if you love Magic: The Gathering, then this book is an absolute must have. You’ll find yourself reading this multiple times whether it’s because you want to revisit the lore or you just want to gaze at the stunning art. Wizards of the Coast have put together a true experience for any Magic: The Gathering fan!

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**This item was provided for review.

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About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years!