In 1993, Magic: the Gathering started off as the world’s first trading card game. A lot has changed about the game in the past 26 years. However, throughout M:tG’s lifespan, Wizards of the Coast, the company that designs and publishes the game, has consistently released new lore with each expansion. Whenever a new batch of cards is released, WotC releases a novel or a few short stories to accompany the release and flesh out the world in which the cards are set.
Image via Amazon
Greg Weisman is the author behind War of the Spark: Forsaken, the latest novel accompanying the War of the Spark expansion. Weisman’s treatment of the relationship between Nissa Revane and Chandra Nalaar, two prominent female characters in the M:tG multiverse, has drawn a lot of ire from the game’s fanbase. In previous books, authors have left the possibility of a romantic relationship between Nissa and Chandra very open-ended. Though nothing has been directly stated, a story focused on Chandra heavily implied she might even be pan or bisexual. And previous novels have spent a decent amount of time hinting and teasing Nissa and Chandra’s attraction to each other.
Things took a turn with War of the Spark: Forsaken:
Chandra had never been into girls. Her crushes—and she’d had her fair share—were mostly the brawny (and decidedly male) types like Gids. But there had always been something about Nissa Revane specifically, something the two of them shared in that great chemical mix—arcing between them like one of Ral Zarek’s lightning bolts—that had thrilled her. From the moment they first met.
This passage kind of waffles back and forth on what it’s trying to say. However, the book explains the nature of their relationship in more depth later on:
On Ravnica, in the wake of Gideon’s death and Bolas’, they had admitted to each other that they loved. But both of them knew deep down they were only speaking platonically.
Besides being some of the worst prose I’ve read this year, Weisman’s novel completely obliterates any possibility of Chandra being queer. In previous novels, Chandra has shown some attraction for Nissa, but Weisman tried to throw all of that out the window in Forsaken.
Responses to the retcon have been…overwhelmingly negative.
Queer representation has always been a tough issue in M:tG, as it is in many aspects of nerd culture. Weisman’s treatment of the relationship – painting it as totally platonic and nothing further – has angered a lot of fans who identified with Chandra and enjoyed her arc with Nissa.
However, an apology that Weisman recently posted suggests he had different plans for the chapter before it was edited:
After reading the materials that preceded my work on Magic: The Gathering, I was particularly intrigued by the burgeoning relationship between Chandra and Nissa. I felt that it should culminate in the War of the Spark books. In lieu of bringing them together, as it was not a relationship that WotC planned to pursue, my goal was to write something that honored Chandra’s feelings for Nissa and Nissa’s feelings for Chandra, something that would give closure to their relationship in a sad but satisfying and understandable way. I believe that if readers had seen my original ideas for the chapter in question, they might have gotten a better sense of what I was trying to accomplish. They might have liked it better. Or maybe they wouldn’t have. In any case, through the mutual creative/editorial process with WotC and Del Rey, we ended up with the final product that was published in Forsaken, which clearly didn’t meet anyone’s expectations or delivers on my intentions. And for that, I am truly sorry.
Featured image via Wizards of the Coast
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