The latest Magic: The Gathering novel, War of the Spark: Forsasken by Greg Weisman, recently sparked controversy for its portrayal of Chandra Nalaar's sexuality and her relationship with Nissa Revane. Today, the Creative Teams at Wizards of the Coast and book publisher Del Rey have issued a statement addressing how they handled the resolution of Chandra and Nissa's romantic relationship.
"Over the past week, we have seen and heard strong reactions from fans about how we handled the resolution of the Nissa-Chandra romantic relationship in the recent Forsaken novel, and we apologize," the statement reads. "We didn't live up to the expectations we created for Chandra and what she means to our fans."
The damage has been done, and although the statement didn't confirm Chandra's sexual preference, it sounds like they are planning to continue to develop Chandra's character in future MTG stories. "Chandra will love and be involved with many characters as her story unfolds—regardless of gender," they wrote. "She will explore her relationships with fire and passion as she adventures across the multiverse. She is the character you've come to know and see yourself, your friends, and your family in over the past decade."
"A value we hold dear is that our characters belong as much to our fans as they do to those of us who help create and shepherd them. Moving forward, we will take more care to ensure they stay true to their ideals, their identity, and the history we have carefully curated—none more so than one as beloved as Chandra Nalaar."
Notice they didn't use the words "bisexual" or "pansexual" to describe Chandra, and fans on social media seem to have a problem with that. It's sad that they had to make this statement to reassure to fans that Chandra will still be the same character that we all love.
Here's the particular passage from the novel that sparked this controversy:
"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.
Now everything's different.
It was over. Before it had ever had a chance to begin. Maybe, maybe they had missed their moment."
This takes one of the few queer relationships (the only girl/girl relationship) in the multiverse of Magic and ruins it. Fans were expecting lesbians or femme bisexuals would get the representation they deserve in MTG's lore, but it gets crushed before it could happen.
More importantly, this passage erases Chandra's bisexual personality. The red-hot planeswalker has always been bisexual. The way the book repaints Chandra as a straight girl who had a crush, that's over, and now she's just into "decidedly male" dudes is terrible.
Unsurprisingly, that's not the only issue fans are having with War of the Spark: Forsaken. Weisman's novel has also been criticized for its terrible writing, and lack of character and plot development. Currently, Forsaken has a 1.5 star out of 5 rating on Amazon based on 67 ratings.
It's worth noting that multiple readers (including myself) from Asia are saying they can't access the source of the statement on Wizards of the Coast but can access all the other articles in the official MTG website, so I wonder why they chose to filter the APAC region.
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