Arena (Magic: The Gathering)
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Arena (Magic: The Gathering #1)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  803 ratings  ·  59 reviews
The introduction of the hottest new game in 1993 has spawned the hottest new book since Dragonlance was launched. Magic: The Gathering trading card role-playing game system inaugurates a new world of magic and mystery. The book includes a coupon for two rare Magic trading cards that cannot be found anywhere else.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 16th 1994 by HarperEntertainment
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Ross
As mentioned elsewhere, this story is something like Yojimbo or the more recent Last Man Standing. I found this in my parents attic the other day, and I read the reviews here so I decided to read it. I had never read it, even though I bought it when it came out (copyrighted 1994). The last page was cut where the coupon for the two free cards was, but I think I got the last line of the book.

This book was written not necessarily before Magic had a story line associated with it, but before they put...more
Engineous
It's... readable.

The melodramatic emotional fireworks are very annoying, but fortunately the author partitioned most of them off into small one- to two-page segments. Hammen somehow manages to be both out-of-character and cliched at the same time (what was with him unconsciously transferring to calling Garth "Master"?), the background characters (and women, too) are cardboard, Garth (hero/main character) is hypocritical but mercifully bland in this respect, the villains are annoying stereotypes...more
Yune
I think one of these stars is for nostalgia, but I do still find the book reliably entertaining after over a decade and quite accessible even for someone who doesn't know anything about Magic: The Gathering (that said, some quirks of the magic system will make more sense if you're familiar with the card game).

This isn't the most original story, but it doesn't pretend to break new ground -- it just romps with fierce joy over the old stuff. So you have a mysterious one-eyed stranger show up in tow...more
Sparhawk
Based on the popular card game of the same name, this was the first book written using the MtG world as a backdrop.

The main character is a mysterious, one-eyed magic user by the name of Garth One-Eye. He has to come to an annual festival where magic users of many different houses compete for honor, glory, and the right to walk alongside a powerful Walker who promises that all will be revealed to the winner of the tournament.

While some people who have never played the card game before might scoff...more
Wil
Take Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (one man plays two rival groups against each other), now put it in a fantasy setting based off the Magic: The Gathering cards, turn the two rival groups into four (or five), and you've got Arena. It's a clever tale of one man's revenge against an entire city run by magical guilds that fight each other once a year in a spectacle called "Festival". I don't want to give away anything, but the treachery and twists make this a fun read. It's a guilty pleasure of mine.
David
The writing style of this book is not really very good but the story itself is interesting. At the time the book came out, there is still a lack of deep lore regarding the world of Magic: the Gathering so this author pulls through and managed to realise an entire city. At times, it does try a little too hard to tie the magic back to the game system and comes across as unrealistic. If you're a fan of the game, this book is a good read.
Luke Sonnier
Jun 11, 2008 Luke Sonnier rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any fan of fantasy and/or Magic: The Gathering
No extensive review or anything, but this is one of my all time favorite books. I'm not sure that there is anything all that great about it, but being a fan of both fantasy and Magic: The Gathering, the story of Garth One-Eye blew me away.

I read this for the first time as a freshman in high school back in 1994 and have re-read it so many times since that I've lost count.
Alotor
I read this book a long, long time ago (more than 15 years or so)in that time i was an avid Magic: The Gathering player so this but i didn't have much hope for this book.

I don't remember the argument very well, but i remember that i loved this book. I think it's one of the main causes for me to enjoy fantasy so much.

That well deserves 5 stars :D
Tim Cusmano
I have read this book more times than anything else. Not to say you should go out and buy it right now, far from it in fact. I bought this primarily to get the free card exclusive to the book, and ended up throwing it into my backpack. From there, I just brought it to class with me every day, and just continued to read it once I had finished it. It was a rough year for me at a new school, and this I guess was my constant.

The premise is simple: mysterious stranger comes to town for magic tournam...more
Graham Houle
Believe it or not but this is one of my favorite books! Pure entertainment and I have re-read it atleast 4 times, a crazy world with tons of fantastic beasts and cool battles!
I wouldn't recommend it to many people but for me it doesn't get any better than this entertainment!
Tric
I had a few other books based on Magic: The Gathering, but this is the only one I kept after my big move. For whatever reason, the story in this one is really fantastic and always makes me read it in one sitting.
Andrew Ziegler
Read this when I was really into playing Magic and reading about it. God, that was over 10 years ago. Man I am old. Anyway, this book was a lot of fun and probably the best Magic based book there was.
Angie
This is a great fantasy book.. When you start reading it, you may find yourself hard to put it down. Like the magic itself, it'll consume you.
Amy
It took me quite a whole to get into the first Magic The Gathering novel but by the end I was frantically reading, gripped to reach the end. Although I didn't enjoy it as much as the Theros novellas I'm still looking forward to working my way through the world of magic through book form and bringing a new depth to the game. This felt like more a tribute to the actual card playing game - giving it a 'real life' setting rather than the later stories which have evolved some ideas, especially those...more
CJ
In my opinion, this book was not good.

The basic premise is that a mysterious one-eyed stranger arrives in town on the eve of the annual magic festival (actual magic...no cards here) and pits the pre-established magic-wielding groups against one another for his own secret purposes. There is much magicking and some sneaking and a little implied sex and a certain amount of violence. The "mob" is always "howling" and magicians' hands are always "waving" and everyone has names like Zarel and Kirlen o...more
Myles
The pacing and the simple plot operate like greased pistons in Arena and there's lots and lots of gory, liquifying, burning death and PG winks towards that thing that mommys and daddys do when they love each other very very much. A very American sense of priorities. I'd expect no less from an author who collaborates with Newt Gingrich in a series of at least seven historical novels. I want to put scare quotes on that historical but...must...resist. I'm sure they're great. Arena is not a great no...more
Chris Youngblood
In my experience, early books from the Magic: The Gathering Collectible Card Game series of novels fell into one of two categories: those that were so entrenched in the game aspects of the CCG that their worlds suffered, and those that used the idiom of the CCG to build up a complete world from the flimsy structure presented by the cards themselves.

This book falls into the latter category. The author created a relatively complete world, replete with customs and a mythos to support it. Even thoug...more
Mark Troutwine
Great Story Brings MtG to Life

This is the first MtG novel I have read. I was immediately taken in by the story and characters. it really brought MtG to Life illustrating what the card game represents in lore and its own unique universe. it is an easy read and extremely entertaining book.

I wanted to read the book that followed Arena, Whispering Woods, but quickly found out that many of the MtG series is still only available in printed format. Hopefully this will change.
John
It's a great story about a man seeking revenge and by lying, cheating, and stealing. Great twists and turns, though predictable, a great ride all the way through with likable characters and decent writing. You don't have to know anything about Magic the Gathering to understand this book, though it wouldn't be a bad idea to become a bit more familiar with the world.
Austin
Definately takes you back to magic the gathering's roots of the classic summon and fight duels. The premise is good in a foundational way, taking place in a town where there are artisans, groups, clans, etc... The main fanfare involves the arena (sort of Magic the Gathering's version of Gladiator). I usually recommend this book to new magic the gathering readers before they go off down the themed novels that occur later in the series once the card game took off.
Gereon
I've read hundreds of fantasy books and this is one of my favourites. I've read it many times. I even wrote an email to the author, complimenting him and asking him to write more books of the kind. He said thank you very much for the compliments and "fantasy has always been my first love and I will eventually return to it".

This is a story about strong magic, about love, about justice and politics, about one man bringin down a corrupt system, by being smart and determined. The story is filled wit...more
London
At first, I loved the book. A one-eyed stranger with skill and prowess known only to those in the four houses...I was in love. But after awhile, I began to wonder what his motives were, creating pandemonium in the streets, needlessly killing thousands of innocent people for his own personal motives. And it was gory. It was a great thriller and great for people who like bursting intestines and fountains of blood, but I for one am not one of them.
There were a lot of things I liked about the book,...more
Neil Chafin
This was the first Magic the Gathering novel I ever purchased and read. I'm glad I started here. I read this book as a teenager, enjoyed it very much, and recently revisited it.

The story moves along at a blistering pace. A little thin on character development, but it more than makes up for it in action and a strong sense of adventure. Because of the main character, Garth, and his unpredictable nature, he keeps you guessing at pretty much every turn. Even when you finally figure him out, it remai...more
Nick
This is, far and away, the best MTG book I have read. They go down hill so fast, I am not sure I'll pick up any more.
Dan
One of my absolute favorite books, to the point where I wore it out and had to order it again!

Follows the story of Garth One-Eye, a mysterious mage that seems to have much more powerful spells than a houseless mage ever should. Right from the very start, his arrival in the city leads to chaos, death, and suffering to everyone. As Garth plays the four major houses of mages against each other, and against the Grand Master himself, more of Garth's dark past comes to light.

An amazing read, very fast...more
Brian Newland
A decent book about playing Magic that I read awhile back. It's just ok.
Allan Jacques
Even though it is a bit simplistic I loved the way it develops and characters got me!
Karlie Nyte
I know this book is far from awesome, however, I still enjoy reading it. I get such a kick out of when a spell is cast, and I know what card they are referring to. I really think that the MtG novels got the short end of the stick, when thinking about how people view them. They are entertaining. And for me, the wife of a (former) avid Magic player, they offered me a way to be involved in the game, as I did not play that often, insight into the characters and places that were being battled over on...more
Scott Thompson
Like many others, I had a lot of initial skepticism because this is a book based around a card game. Surprisingly, it was really good. A very solid plot line. Even if it was a tad predictable, the delivery was still really action-packed.

With the exception of a notable few, the majority of characters felt very 2-dimensional. Their weaknesses were obvious and seemed to be more of a checkbox on a form rather than weaknesses balanced by strengths.

Regardless of a few small points, I enjoyed this boo...more
Kenneth Hayes Geary
This was a good book, it may have been better if i had never played the card game, as there were a few inconsistencies with how mana and magic worked and it seemed to break that forth wall a little bit at least for me. i understand that at the time MTG was new so the systems weren’t as clear as they are now but overall it was a good book and I would recommend for anyone whose looking for a stand-alone novel in between series.
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William R. Forstchen (born 1950) is an American author who began publishing in 1983 with the novel Ice Prophet. He is a Professor of History and Faculty Fellow at Montreat College, in Montreat, North Carolina. He received his doctorate from Purdue University with specializations in Military History, the American Civil War and the History of Technology.

Forstchen is the author of more than forty boo...more
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