Announcement Date: September 26, 2016
Effective Date: September 30, 2016
The Purifying Fire is restricted.
Test of Metal is banned.
Next B&R Announcement: January 20, 2017
Explanation of Changes
Magic’s canon, the officially recognized story and lore, has had its fair share of rough patches.
From poor writing to a cancelled novel, a lot happened early on in the last decade of story. Some of it appeared as simply lack of communication while other elements had been retconned within months of release. The story played it loose for a while after the Mending and it was evident to those who had been paying attention at the time. Whether Venser appeared ageless despite having spent decades on Dominaria or the hedrons on Zendikar were suddenly added to the Eldrazi containment spell, errors arose in a variety of places and it felt jarring.
But that’s all in the past.
Time Walk by Chris Rahn
The story of Magic has settled into a groove with the New Era of Storytelling and while that groove is admittedly new and different, it is also a lot cleaner and further planned out than it ever has been in the past (they have a movie to set up for, you know?). There are goals, there are years of future stories in mind, and most importantly there are payoffs for the loose ends that are created. But sometimes progress comes at a cost, and for now that cost is cutting away some story that doesn’t quite fit.
The Purifying Fire
From its publishing in 2009 until Magic Origins in 2015, The Purifying Fire remained the largest defining story for Chandra’s character.
We were introduced to the defiant pyromancer Planeswalker that desired the secrets behind the Dragon Scroll and despised the Order of Heliud, an authoritative group who were rapidly encroaching the land surrounding her adoptive home of Keral Keep. Combined, these two passions ran her into Gideon Jura, a Planeswalker soldier for the Order of Heliud who was tasked with detaining Chandra.
Art by Michael Komarck
Many chapters and adventures later, she is finally imprisoned by the Order and sentenced to enter the Purifying Fire, a flame of White mana that would sever her manabonds upon it’s judgement. Prior to her punishment, Gideon talks with Chandra and she reveals her origins, including the death of her parents, her siblings, and all the guilt which she still held from that fateful event. Having forgiven herself, she is able to enter the Purifying Fire and exits the flame unchanged. She then proceeds with her vengeance on Walbert and the Order, collapsing the cavern where the Purifying Fire was housed and the temple built above.
So why is The Purifying Fire now restricted?
Let me begin by saying that we know that the majority of events in the novel remain as canon. When Gideon and Jace stop by Regatha in Offers to the Fire, Chandra reminds Gideon that he knows her history on Regatha and the sacrifices she has made. In The Worlds of Magic Origins, the Creative team acknowledges the Order of Heliud and Gideon’s participation. Both acknowledge that the story happened.
What has been contradicted is both Chandra’s origins and Gideon unlocking that tragic backstory. In Fire Logic, we find out that she has no siblings and that the events generally went down differently than she had recalled in The Purifying Fire. In Homesick, Gideon reveals that Chandra had spoke “not a word” of her homeplane origins to him. All in all, these two revisions only blur a few pages of the novel, though it does cause her self-reflection and forgiveness prior to entering the Purifying Fire to be that much more independent. In removing the fewest offending details, Gideon still plays a guiding role in the discussion, but the origin details are simply never revealed to Gideon are unnecessary for Chandra’s resolution.
Art by Cynthia Sheppard
What this change effectively does is favor minor removal over confusing substitution. The novel still reads well and plays an important, recognized part in Gideon and Chandra’s history, but the change allows for the Gatewatch to collectively recognize the Consulate’s past atrocities in a far more accessible outlet, the Magic Story column.
For these reasons, The Purifying Fire is restricted.
Test of Metal
From its publishing in 2010, Test of Metal has been regarded as an anomaly in Magic canon.
What did this novel do? Bolas exclaimed that the human corpse he gnawed on tasted like “goat balls”, insisted on calling Tezzeret “Tezzie,” and Tezzeret admitted to having routinely worn illusions of clothes instead of real clothes. That’s only in the first few chapters. The following are a list of highlights from the remainder of the novel:
- Clockworking is introduced as a mechanic that allows a mage to move backward and sideways in time, choosing between the best timelines for victory.
- Interplanar gates, which have been notably absent from all other Post-Mending stories, allow for travel across planes.
- Tezzeret has regrown a human arm in place of his severed etherium arm.
- Baltrice, a Planeswalker character who had been killed at the conclusion of Agents of Artifice, is revealed to be alive.
- Nicol Bolas uses clockworking and manipulated multiple timelines of Liliana Vess to reanimate fallen copies of himself in battle.
- The debut of Doctor Jest, a character who is placed into Tezzeret’s head by Bolas to monitor the Planeswalker (Note: Dr. Jest also says actions like “Shrug” and “Shudder” in dialogue with Tezzeret because Doc doesn’t have a body)
- Tezzeret meets with Jace, Liliana, and Baltrice after the final fight and rewards them for their “participation”, willing or unwilling, in his plot against Bolas
- In the end, the Bolas that Tezzeret defeats is not the real Bolas because the real Bolas always wins
How many of these details blatantly disregard or simply break the established Multiverse? Quite a few.
How many of these threads have been acknowledged in published stories since? None.
Art by Michael Komarck
Where Test of Metal truly succeeded was creating a novel-length non sequitur for story fans. It has humor, vulgarity, and phrases that were never been seen in a Magic novel before or since. It continually fails to read as anything resembling a Magic novel while lacking all sense of permanence needed to qualify as a meaningful one. As the final installment in the A Planeswalker Novel series, it provided moderate entertainment, contributed nothing of value to the canon, and broke everything in the process.
For these reasons, Test of Metal is banned.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into how canon works and be sure to let me know, either on here or on Twitter, if you want to see more. And until next time, happy planeswalking.