Wizards of the Coast has revealed why there is no fiction release to accompany its newest Magic: The Gathering set, the Greek-mythology inspired Theros: Beyond Death.
Instead of releasing a book alongside the new set to elaborate on the lore behind the cards, Theros: Beyond Death got a blog post highlighting what has happened in the story so far, along with an announcement that there were no plans for an ebook - even though the original 2013 Theros expansion was accompanied by its own two-part ebook titled Godsend.
It turns out that the poor reception to last year’s story in War of the Spark novels Ravnica and Forsaken is the reason that no set-themed fiction has transpired for Theros: Beyond Death as of yet.
“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,” said Jeremy Jarvis, franchise creative director, in a blog post.
“That unfortunately meant that we would miss our intended release window. We did our best to leverage our preview plans and marketing support to deliver the broad strokes of the story so people weren’t left completely in the lurch, but we know you are disappointed and we are too. We’re doing everything we can to ensure this will be a one-time cost for a smoother future.”
2019 Magic: The Gathering novel War of the Spark: Forsaken sparked controversy when it implied that main character Chandra was straight, when previous story instalments had indicated that she may be queer. Following backlash from fans online, Wizards of the Coast issued a public apology.
However, this doesn’t mean that Theros: Beyond Death will receive no fiction adaptation in the future. Jarvis went on to say that the Wizards of the Coast will “find the correct time and channel to release the Theros: Beyond Death fiction. Maybe it will be part of an anthology, or direct to Audible, or as a graphic novel.”
Last December, the publisher announced that there were no plans for an ebook to accompany the Theros: Beyond Death expansion, although earlier this month it did release a short feature outlining a summary of Theros: Beyond Death.
Storywise, Theros: Beyond Death continues where Godsend finished and is focused on planeswalker Elspeth Tirel - a well-known character within the world who, died in Godsend. Theros: Beyond Death sees Elspeth fighting her way out of the underworld after her death.