- The Brothers' War
The Brothers' War
1st edition cover
Author(s) Jeff Grubb Country United States Language English Series Artifacts Cycle Genre(s) Fantasy novel Publisher Wizards of the Coast Publication date May 1998 Media type Print (Paperback) Pages 409 pp Followed by Planeswalker
The Brothers' War is a Magic: The Gathering novel written by Jeff Grubb, and published by Wizards of the Coast, Inc. It takes place on the fictional world of Dominaria, within the 'multiverse'. It tells the story of the origins of Urza, who plays a significant role in other Magic: The Gathering novels. At 409 pages, The Brothers' War is the longest of any Magic: The Gathering novels.
The prologue opens on a battlefield, "the night before the end of the world", over the bodies of two fallen giants. The massive machine and wood giants had destroyed one another and were now the meeting place for the lieutenants of the armies preparing for battle. Ashnod the Uncaring and Tawnos meet to discuss matters and reminisce about the war that brought them to that field.
The main story opens at an archaeological dig site a few decades earlier. The head archaeologist, Tocasia, sits at her table examining an ancient relic: a metal skull. When the supply caravan from the city arrives to the camp, Tocasia meets two brothers around the age of ten. The older boy, lean and tawny-haired, is Urza, while his dark-haired and stocky younger brother is Mishra. Urza tells Tocasia that he and Mishra were born on the same year, he on the first day, Mishra on the last, so that on the last day, they were equal. Tocasia takes the boys into the camp to teach them her archeology. From the beginning, Urza and Mishra show a great aptitude for the study of 'artifacts', machines left over from the mysterious Thran people, and also show a violent capacity for argument curbed only by Tocasia.
Over the next six years the brothers grow up in the camp, Urza becoming lean, wiry, and developing an encyclopedic mind for mechanics. Mishra grew muscular, learning to spend time with the native Fallaji diggers, drinking with them and learning their legends. They become permanent residents of the camp, after receiving word that their father died, and their stepmother does not send for them. After the discovery and rebuilding of an ancient flying machine (an Ornithopter), on Mishra's birthday, the brothers have a vicious argument over who gets to fly it first. In the end Urza wins, but both get a turn. The bird's eye view allows them to view pictographs in the desert, leading to the discovery of large artifact deposits. These discoveries point to a mountainous region that Urza believes was the heart of Thran civilization, but which the desert natives think is haunted.
Urza, Mishra, and Tocasia fly to the ruined Thran city but are attack by a roc along the way. At the heart of the ruined city, a cave entrance leads down past troves of machines to a pedestal with a large crystal set into the middle. Accidentally, the brothers break the stone in half, and each has a differing vision when they each end with a half in his grasp. Urza sees a world of metal cables and machines with many melting and burning forms. Mishra saw a long hallway made of lizard skin, with tiny figurines of screaming beings made of gold and mirrors showing him twisted images of a monster. When they awake from their visions, they see the automatons in the hall come to life and attack them. They discover Mishra's stone weakens the machines, while Urza's strengthens them. After escaping, Urza and Mishra get into a heated argument when Urza takes Mishra's stone. In frustration, Urza lashes his hand out to return the stone, while Mishra steps into his reach and is struck in the forehead with the stone. This results in a falling-out between the brothers.
In the months after, the brothers remained angry. Urza deems his stone the Mightstone for its ability to strengthen, and Mishra's the Weakstone for its ability to weaken. One night, an argument between the brothers escalates to a violent pitch, where they begin using the powers of the stones on one another. Tocasia rushes in to stop them and is caught in the cross fire and killed. In grief and pain at the accusations of his older brother, Mishra flees into the night. Without Tocasia's leadership, the camp disbands and the students and workers return to their homes.
After the deadly night, Urza leaves the camp without knowing of his brother's whereabouts. In the city of Kroog, capital of the neighbouring kingdom of Yotia, he becomes a clockmaker's apprentice. And first meets Kayla bin-Kroog, the Yotian princess, after fixing a music box of sentimental value. Upon learning that a Thran book is a part of the princess's dowry, he builds a mechanical man to win a contest set forth by Kayla's father to find her a strong suitor. The mechanical man moves a massive jade statue and Urza wins the contest. The warlord father is initially infuriated that Urza wins the contest, but is persuaded to allow the marriage when he realizes that he can use Urza's knowledge for himself.
Meanwhile, Mishra is enslaved by the desert people. He is made a tutor for the son of the ruling tribe's chief. The son is initially uninterested in learning arithmetic or ither languages and Mishra despairs that he will be demoted (though his friend Hajar knows death will meet failure) like many previous tutors who failed before him. Mishra manages to befriend the boy by telling him many legends and stories. However, Mishra is still a slave that will be executed upon the completion of the boy's education. One night, a massive mechanical dragon attacks the tribe, killing the chieftain. Mishra tames it with his stone and is promoted from a slave to being a "wizard" and advisor to the son, who succeeds his father as chieftain.
With the Kroogian warlord's patronage, Urza begins a school for the creation of many devices and takes on an apprentice, Tawnos. Mishra takes on his apprentice, Ashnod when the desert Fallaji people begin their war against the other kingdoms. Urza's Yotian kingdom and Mishra's Fallaji begin to war, but hold a peace talk. The brothers are reunited, but the Kroogian warlord uses the peace talks as a pretense to launch a surprise attack against his hated Fallaji enemies. The Kroogian warlord is killed by the Fallaji chieftain in the ensuing battle.
A war erupts, but another peace talk is held and Urza and Mishra attempt to reconcile their broken relationship. However, the talks break down when Mishra has Kayla steal Urza's stone and sleeps with her. With the aide of his war machines, Mishra escapes into the desert. Urza mounts a search for his brother in the hopes of getting revenge, leading to another war.
After an unsuccessful attack by Urza's Ornithopter patrols on a false warcamp, Mishra attacks the Kroogian capital with three of his dragon engines (having found and tamed two more). The Fallaji chieftain attempts to kill Ashnod during the attack on the city, but fails and is killed by her instead. In the caverns where the stones were found, men who worshipped machines met a mostly-mechanical demon from another world. He called himself Gix, and they did as well.
Mishra becomes the new leader of the Fallaji, and builds himself an army of automatons to increase his military power. Urza flees the now-conquered Kroog and is appointed "Protector of the Realm" by an alliance formed against the Fallaji by the kingdoms of Argive and Korlis. Tawnos brings Urza's wife and newborn son (possibly nephew) to him, and together they begin to build an opposing army to Mishra. Ashnod builds her own army of brainwashed and surgically-altered slaves and criminals, the transmogrants, to fight. The war continues for decades with each side participating in an arms race to build more effective weapons.
Ashnod is exiled from Mishra's side, while Loran joins a group of scholars in unlocking the power of magic in the city Terisia. When Mishra invades, two of his dragon engines vanish into thin air. The Brotherhood of Gix infiltrates both sides and plays them against each other, while winning more power in Mishra's court. Mishra is secretly offered a method of gaining more power through artifice by the Brotherhood.
Urza's son Harbin finds an island of Argoth, ruled by elves who worship the goddess Gaea, and was secretly aided to return to land by an elf. In a ploy to bring the brother's together, Gix gives information on the secret island to a member of the Brotherhood. Urza and Mishra both learn that this island is rich in resources like lumber and ore. Because their war has stripped the continent of resources and polluted the land, they bring their armies to the island in the hopes gaining the upper hand and ending the war decisively. Both armies exterminate the natives of the island.
In the final battle of the war, the brothers' armies fight to a stalemate. Urza meets Mishra upon the battlefield, but Mishra has been warped into an amalgation of machine-and-man by Gix, the Phyrexian demon. Ashnod sends the Golgothian sylex to Urza to end the war while she fights the demon Gix. Urza, suddenly awakening to the power of magic, uses the Golgothian sylex to unleash an enormous blast to destroy his brother and Gix. The blast destroys the island, ends the war and upsets the climate of Dominaria, ushering in a new ice age. Gix escapes through a portal to the plane of Phyrexia. Urza becomes a Planeswalker, a god-like being capable of traversing between worlds, and the Mightstone and Weakstone become his eyes. Regretting the destruction he has unleashed upon the world, Urza uses his newfound powers to leave Dominaria and travel to worlds unseen.
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