Today, I get to talk about one of my favorite card games of all time – Magic: the Gathering. In spite of the fact that it came under fire as a game that induces gambling, the rich lore behind the cards and the stories of the characters have made it into books. This piece is mainly dedicated to MtG novels, though I have a bone to pick first.
Is There Gambling?
In my opinion, no, there isn’t. I acknowledge the argument that you pay a booster deck with a fixed cost only to discover that some cards are worth a few cents, while others go for several hundred dollars. However, I would argue that it a) levels the playing field with the element of luck and b) trading MgT cards is the same as buying and selling goods. Again, this is my personal opinion and, as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, we must recognize the similarity between booster decks and loot boxes, and those have been outlawed in some countries as a form of gambling. Additionally, there was the controversy of players putting cards on the line as the pot that the winner would take, so there’s that. Now, onto the books!
Between 1994 and 1996, ten books were written by seven different writers and were published with little to no connection to each other. It was before a time where you have to start planning on reading a book series well into your golden years like the situation is now. Because of this, the publisher, Harper Fantasy at the time, did not connect the books as a part of a larger series, fearing that the scale might scare away potential readers. As it turned out, Wizards of the Coast had no qualms with this concept.
There are fourteen sequences or cycles of novels, each between two and five books, totaling forty-two titles over a span of ten years. That’s some math. Luckily, this is where most of the MtG fans are likely to find some of their favorite planes, like Mirrodin, Zendikar, and Ravnica.
Now we’re talking. Without revealing too much info, though the series is probably large enough that it shouldn’t matter, each plane has its own beings, magic, and social structure. They are all worlds in their own right, with their own histories, troubles, revolutions, and revelations.
Planeswalkers are beings that are able to cross between the planes and often do so in their journeys. Sometimes, the crossing is planned, other times, it’s an accident. The Planeswalker novels tell us about each of the planeswalkers and how they meet each other. The first book, The Agents of Artifice, deals with the scheming of Tezzeret and his training of Jace, as well as Liliana Vess’ own agenda.
I am particularly fond of these series since it features my favorite planeswalker – Chandra, in The Purifying Fire. She is a young and, naturally, hot-headed mage.
It is amazing that a simple card game can have so many creatures, characters, plots, and subplots. Still Magic: the Gathering is not a simple scheme of creating media to sell merchandise. Even if you are not a fan of the game, you will certainly be able to appreciate the details and personas of each and every book in the various series and outside of them.