First of all, some people in the Magic community are pointing out how War of the Spark: Forsaken handles Chandra and Nissa's relationship. It was heavily teased as the novel where the two Planeswalkers will finally become a couple, but that never happens in the book, and snippets about their relationship found their way to Twitter:
"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."
Ouch! And here's the passage that really pissed fans of Chandra and Nissa's relationship:
"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.
Of course, Chandra and Nissa's subplot isn't the only thing in the novel fans are complaining about.
On Goodreads, Forsaken is currently rated 2 stars out of 5, and reviewer Ryan Crouch said, "I don't believe even a casual fanfic writer on a blog would be satisfied releasing something like this, let alone a serialized novel by a multi-million dollar company. It reeks of queerbaiting, bad prose, flat and inconsistent writing, and is very clearly written by a cis dude grossly unaware of people's existences and experiences outside his own. It's really sad to see fantasy novels like this perpetuate the 'big muscly dude gets all the babes attention because of his muscles' sort of toxic and boring writing."
Twitch streamer Amy the Amazonian pointed out another cringe-worthy quote from the novel:
I have to take notes in this copy for the upcoming summary. Ain't no refunds here! pic.twitter.com/Ro6xKBLNDE— Amy the Amazonian (@coL_Amazonian) November 13, 2019
Many on Twitter blamed Nic Kelman, head of Story and Entertainment, for ruining the story, retweeted A.E. Marling's article on Medium about WotC's decision to hire Kelman.
Okay, now I'm starting to come down from the first fires of pure rage and wanted to take a moment Re: WAR/Forsaken: Don't send hate to @maro254 or be too harsh to @Greg_Weisman (he deserves an ear full, not death threats). Also, please @wizards_magic just get rid of Nic Kelman.— Anita Barton (@PepperFren) November 12, 2019
Magic's *pedophilic and otherwise super toxic masculine* Head of Story, just for context. the biphobia doesn't come from nowhere, not when this dude thinks sex is literally about male domination.https://t.co/oZ48d6Rkxy— Nicole Joliet (@setarelven) November 13, 2019
Magic Story was at a consistent high for years until recently when it started getting to be actively bad again— ?PRUMPKY?PIE?EVAN? (@survivorevan) November 12, 2019
WotC hired Nic Kelman, whom many of us have complained about for multiple reasons, at basically the exact time of the turn
BY SHEER COINCIDENCE, I'M SURE
This was a waste of time and resources. The couple years of storytelling was awful. After hiring Nic Kelman and Weissman, you guys have reached the bottom of the storytelling barrel. This is the worst thing you've ever written. How disappointing— Ava Vess (@AvacyninChains) November 12, 2019
And here are more reactions from Twitter and Reddit:
Also hey @wizards_magic when you hired Nic Kelman did you even look at his body of work? Now I am not so surprised that you guys let Chandra and Nissa's relationship just get dismissed. My disappointment just deepens.— Bookchellf (@bookchellf) November 13, 2019
I've read the spoilers for the new Magic novel, and it's a travesty. Yes, I know, Magic novel, good writing, what a laugh. But War of the Spark was laughably awful and this next one is equally terrible, and possibly worse. Spoilers, because fuck this thing is bad.— Mr. Bitterness (@diamondmagus) November 13, 2019
Remember how in War of the Spark, Chandra and Nissa maybe became a couple? Well here's what the follow-up book said about it... pic.twitter.com/oX72N37t7c— Ryan the Rambler [ EMERGENCY COMMISSIONS!] (@Mediahead85) November 13, 2019
hope the next b&r list bans oko in standard, oko in pioneer, and war of the Spark forsaken from canon— bobby (@creepydentures) November 12, 2019
Never thought I’d be this hard on the “Fuck War of the Spark: Forsaken and Weisman” train, but here we are, with @wizards_magic throwing years of lore down the drain and cancelling any relationship between two people that was implied for years.— CJTheUnseen (@CJIsSeen) November 13, 2019
Thanks for the Biphobia, Wizards...
im wondering if weisman is writing this stuff out of spite and to punish the mtg community for not liking his original war of the spark book.— Sliyanka, The Poxman Cometh (@Sliyanka) November 13, 2019
Apparently the author of the continuation of the War of the Spark story tramples all over established character setup, pushing the associated diversity implications off a cliff and right into the sea.— Wormbo (@RealWormbo) November 12, 2019
(I'm not really following #MTG story anymore since they paywalled it again.)
The first war of the spark novel was absymal, and they have somehow managed to get even worse as time has gone on. Thats quite the acomplishment, they should take pride in that.— Bruce (@BruceOnTheLuse) November 12, 2019
I'm not even going to get into the actual writing quality in War of the Spark and Forsaken. I think it's low, but I'll take mediocre prose with weird pacing and expository dialogue, as long as it hits the right emotional beats. And these books flail around clumsily on that front.— Milly (@foxesforsale) November 12, 2019
The War of the Spark: Forsaken novel sure is.— Amy the Amazonian (@coL_Amazonian) November 12, 2019
Yep, it sure is. pic.twitter.com/3Y9NJMCCmx
Synopsis of War of the Spark: Forsaken:
The Planeswalkers have defeated Nicol Bolas and saved the Multiverse—though at grave cost. The living have been left to pick up the pieces and mourn the dead. But one loss is almost too great to bear: Gideon Jura, champion of justice and shield of the Gatewatch, is gone. As his former comrades Jace and Chandra struggle to rebuild from this tragedy, their future, like the future of the Gatewatch, remains uncertain.
War of the Spark: Forsaken by Greg Weisman is now available.