The quality of Magic: The Gathering novels has severely declined over the past year, but the franchise team in charge of the novels say corrections are being made.
Lore is an integral component in MTG, enticing fans over the decades with tales that provide further depth into characters than what’s printed on the cards. But that all changed in 2018 when the stories were handed off to the franchise team, along with a decision to enlist a pool of authors. The result was disastrous. But changes are coming, according to WotC franchise creative director, Jeremy Jarvis.
“What you’re seeing is Magic’s Franchise team testing and learning,” Jarvis said. “We want to best understand the tone that works for our audience as well as the specific content that resonates most successfully in any given narrative expression (short form vs. comics vs. long-form, for example). To do that we have to create opportunities to test and learn.”
The War of the Spark novel failed to capture audiences, falling short on character development. The next two books didn’t improve in quality either, with the most recent release of Forsaken offending many in the Magic community. WotC eventually apologized for the treatment of Chandra Nalaar’s character in Forsaken, while also suspending the Theros: Beyond Death novel.
“The blowback from Forsaken illuminated that we needed a better validation strategy not only for issues of representation, but for narrative content in general; so we made the hard call to delay Theros: Beyond Death fiction until we could create a new vetting process,” Jarvis said.
The franchise team plans on turning the situation around and revealed that the upcoming Magic set, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, will have an ebook. Jarvis also said that the Theros: Beyond Death story isn’t dead and may get released as a graphic novel or via other means, like an anthology.