Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Not only do I intend to review all stories of the Magic canon, I'm also going to see how they all fit together in one huuuuuuge timeline. I already made a Magic timeline once, over on MTGSalvation (It was the basis for the timeline on the MTGSally wiki.) As I've said before though, I'm not that happy with that version anymore. It contains mistakes, it is incomplete, and worst of all, I didn't bother with annotations. That has made revisions to the project very difficult down the line. Since then I've gotten my Masters degree in History however, and if there is one thing I've learned at uni it's the importance of annotations. So every entry on this new timeline will contain a link to the review in which its placement is discussed. As my project progresses, so will the timeline grow.

Be aware that this is very much a work in progress, with several stories placed provisionally until I am able to review other stories that might influence their placement.

Every entry here contains a link to the relevant review. If the timeline placement is discussed in a different review I have added a link to that one as well, in brackets. The placement of sets up to Scourge is based on the official Wizards of the Coast timeline. Later sets have been placed roughly at the right time to provide context.

  • ~ -100.000 AR - The Equilorians start on their path to enlightenment.
  • ~ -20.000 - First parts of Chronicle of Bolas
    • Birth of Nicol Bolas (discussion), as well as Ugin, their siblings and their cousins. 
    • Dragon-killer's War
    • Ugin ascends. (discussion)
  • Between ~ -20.000 and ~ -16.000 or ~-15.000 - Start of the Elder Dragon War, Ugin shapes Tarkir. (discussion)
  • ~ -17.000 - Defeat of the Primeval Dragons by the numena. "Hero of the People" (The Dragons of Magic)  (discussion)
  • ~ -16.000 - Fall of the numena. (discussion)
  • Between ~-16.000 and ~-15.000 - Final parts of Chronicle of Bolas
    • Nicol Bolas ascends. 
    • End of the Elder Dragon War. 
    • Bolas kills Ugin for the first time. (discussion)
  • ~-15.000 - Bolas kills a demonic leviathan, destroying part of Madara. He eats the leviathan to gain its powers and erects the Talon Gates. (discussion)
  • -5516 - Guildpact signed (discussion)
  • Before -5000 - "City of Brass" (Encyclopedia Dominia) takes place, followed by "The Brass Man who would Sink" (Tapestries) (Possibly in-universe myths)
  • ~ -5000 AR - The Thran
  • Millennia after the Thran, centuries before the Brothers' War - Legends comics on Corondor take place.
  • Unknown date before Arabian Nights - Rabiah refracts into a 1001 planes. "Eater of the Infinite" (Encyclopedia Dominia) happens some times after the Refraction, if it happened at all.
  • Between Elder Dragons and the Brothers' War -  Arabian Nights take place. (Placement contested, could also be shortly after the Brother's War.) 
  • ~ -1850 - Tev Loneglade, the latter Tevesh Szat, is born. (discussion)
  • -912 - Penregon founded (discussion)







I try to put everything I can on this timeline, in order to keep as many sources as possible as part of the canon, but sometimes that is impossible. The following stories have been directly and explicitly replaced by later published sources.

  • "That Going Price" (Tapestries), replaced by And Peace Shall Sleep
  • Antiquities War #1-4 and Urza-Mishra War #1-2, replaced by The Brothers' War.
  • Ice Age #2, replaced by The Eternal Ice.
  • Ice Age #3-4 and Shandalar #1-2 can not have happened as printed, thanks to major continuity errors regarding Lim-Dรปl, but the events of these comics are still references in other sources. Something similar to these stories must thus still have happened.
  • Jedit Ojanen #1-2, replaced by the Legends I trilogy (Johan, Jedit and Hazezon)


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  2. Where (when) does the story of the Thran take place in this timeline? Seems a bit of an oversight, since Yawgmoth found(ed) Phyrexia long before Urza's birth.

  3. The Thran isn't on the list yet as it wasn't on the official WotC timeline. That timeline only mentioned sets. I'll add books not related to sets as I review them, but as a little preview: The Thran happens about 5000 years before the birth of Urza.

  4. Part 1:
    I wanted to expand my last comment on your placement of some stories in the Timeline. But first, I used the following sources to compile the chronology of some of the earliest Magic products' releases (sets as well as the articles/stories and the books that you already covered or will soon cover):

    I'm not entirely sure on how far the dates from these sources can be trusted, or independently verified. Mostly, I do not own the original English versions (if any), just the translations.

    month-year: product

    08-1993: Limited Edition Alpha (including the Alpha Rule Book with the Introduction short story).
    10-1993: Limited Edition Beta
    12-1993: Unlimited Edition
    12-1993: Arabian Nights
    03-1994: Antiquities
    03-1994: Revised set's Pocket Player's Guide (with Roreca's Tale and Dominia and Its Walkers by R. Garfield)*
    04-1994: Revised Edition
    06-1994: Legends
    08-1994: The Dark
    11-1994: Arena novel
    11-1994: Fallen Empires
    01-1995: Whispering Woods novel (acc. to mtgsal wiki and published in 03-1995**)
    03-1995: Shattered Chains novel
    05-1995: Final Sacrifice novel
    05-1995: 4th Edition (+ around that time, 4th Edition's Pocket Player's Guide with Nature of Dominia and A Timeline of Dominaria articles)
    06-1995: Ice Age
    07-1995: Chronicles (a compilation set)
    08-1995: The Cursed Land novel (acc. to mtgsal wiki and published in 09-1995***)
    08-1995: Renaissance (a compilation set)
    10-1995: Homelands
    11-1995: The Prodigal Sorcerer novel
    03-1996: Ashes of the Sun novel (acc. to mtgsal wiki published in 01-1996***)
    05-1996: Tapestries anthology
    06-1996: Alliances
    06-1996: Song of Time novel (unfinished trilogy)
    07-1996: And Peace Shall Sleep novel (acc. to mtgsal wiki published in 05-1996***)
    11-1996: Mirage
    12-1996: Dark Legacy novel
    02-1997: Visions
    03-1997: 5th Edition
    04-1997: Distant Planes anthology****
    05-1997: Portal
    06-1997: Weatherlight

    On top of that, the first two comic book series started in 07-1995: Shadowmage and Ice Age. I think it would be a good idea to keep expanding and verifying this list (if you're ever bored, Squirle ;) ).

    * source for the date

    ** probably a mistake? They wouldn't release two books of the same series at the same time, would they?

    *** Dunno if a mistake, completely false, or a mix-up between printing and publication dates.

    **** wikipedia gives the same date as for Tapestries anthology - doubtful; mtgsal wiki doesn't give any month at all, only '96 as a year of publication. According to gooreads it was 1st January '96, but the date is so round I wouldn't necessarily trust it. That could be a way of them saying "we don't know, but it was somewhere in '96 and we need to have something in the database". Then, there is, where I finally took the date from, although it's almost a year after the wikipedia date. Then again, I just found this, with the '95 dates for Distant Planes AND Tapestries... argh. I'm almost sure '95 is wrong (or are these just my false memories of some discussions?), but I have no idea how to actually verify it all.

  5. Part 2:
    Now to the point - you based your case about the early books and some short stories happening in the Modern Era (~4000 A.R.) on the article "A Timeline of Dominaira" by Jonh Tynes, from the 4th Edition Pocket Player's Guide (PPG for short) - also archived here.

    I couldn't exactly pinpoint its release date. Brady Dommermuth's article (link under the first "*" in the prev. post) and all other references I could find, give only the year ('95). But it would only make sense, if it was released not later than the 4th Edition itself (possibly like the Revised PPG which was released in the month preceding its respective set).

    In summary, 4th Ed. Pocket Player's Guide came out after Alpha, Beta, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Revised, Legends, The Dark, and the Fallen Empires card sets, and after Introduction, Roreca's Tale, Dominia and Its Walkers, Arena, Whispering Woods, Shattered Chains, and Final Sacrifice storyline/flavor sources. The comic books weren't available yet, but they were in a two months reach and most likely advertised already (which would explain why they are mentioned in "A Timeline for Dominaria").

    Now, the article fragment in question:
    It is now the present day on Dominaria. The Ice Age is a distant memory, and the peoples and places of Magic Fourth Edition are present on a large continent known commonly as the Domains. The people and places of the Arabian Nights expansion is also present in this time period, as is the action of the novels. On the continent of Stonehaven, the action of the comic books is transpiring, too.

    That fragment specifies all the products that are supposed to be happening in the Modern Era:
    * books known to the readers of the article [and I'd say, the default position here is "already released books"] - so from Arena to Final Sacrifice (and we have other official sources that even include dates (4077 A.R.), confirming it); It doesn't say it references any future books (or how far in the future). At most, we could say it is completely unclear on the matter. So we can't a priori assume that it does say that The Cursed Land (at this point, still three, up to four months before its release), or any later books, were meant to necessarily happen in the Modern Era (and we know for a fact, that some of them did not). Now, I wouldn't mind filling the gaps at all, but the evidence is simply not there. So we have to take each case separately and weight the rest of the evidence, if there is any (and in case of some later books, there is other evidence), to determine their place in the continuity. Now, if it turned out that somehow the 4th Ed. PPG was released after The Cursed Land, or if we got any word from the official sources, preferably more or less of that time (books' authors, John Tynes, Pete Venters...) - I'd happily concede this point.

    * Arabian Nights - debatable if it meant to say "all of its storyline", or (preferably, for continuity's sake) just Rabiah's cultural influences (which we otherwise know happened through natural portals to Dominaria), referenced by the Arabian Nights cards reprinted in the 4th Ed. set;

    * The comic books - referencing the upcoming Shadowmage series - all fine here.

  6. Part 3:
    What "A Timeline of Dominaria" article does not mention:

    * Any short stories released with Alpha or Revised. When it says that the 4th Ed. happens on the Domains in the Modern Era, it does not say the same for the whole of Alpha and Revised sets (even though it shares many cards with them), or any stories accompanying these sets. So Introduction and Roreca's Tale are still unspecified in time. The similarities of the planeswalker-sidekick relationships do not prove anything either (they actually weren't even that universal in the stories up to that point) - they just point to the ideas developers had about planeswalkers.

    * although some of its storyline is described there, Ice Age comics got ignored in the article (despite the same release date as The Shadowmage). So the article didn't even mention the soon-to-be-released comic, yet it was supposedly setting the time for all past and future books and stories? That doesn't add up.

    So again - I think that forcing every storyline/flavor source into the timeline is not a good idea. Even very rough estimates won't be necessarily possible for many stories from flavor texts (core sets!) and some short stories created along the way (flavor articles), that were very generic in nature. And as far as I can tell, many of them were supposed to be that way.

    In fact, let's make a test for it -> The Fan-fiction Rule (For the Continuity-wise Unspecified Storyline Sources) ;)
    If you can write a fan-fiction expanding a not well specified source in a way, that without any ridiculous means (easily) you can place it practically anywhere in the timeline - then you can not put the original source anywhere on that timeline. However, if you are able to pinpoint some boundaries for the source within the continuity, thus dividing the latter into specific time ranges - for example, there is a merit in an assumption that mana burn is pre-Mending and a lack of it is post-Mending - then the rule still applies within these time ranges. Repeat the attempts to find more precise boundaries and the fan-fic approach, until you can't go any further. Or in other words - could WotC Storyline Team easily place this source anywhere on the timeline or within some specified time ranges (assuming they actually know the sources well)? If so, it could be in any place within these ranges.

    I can't recall for sure if The Cursed Lands had any mana burns (didn't Malvos have one, trying to disobey Tempe's orders, or something? I don't remember what exactly happened there. Maybe it was just an enchantment), but if it did, then we could only be certain it happened before the Mending. Without additional evidence, I could easily write a fanfic, placing this story literally anywhere in the pre-Mending Epoch.

    Also, a case can be made for Introduction (and Roreca's Tale - most likely the same battle), because it mentions Glasses of Urza. But when did Worzel learn about this artifact (and acquire/copy it)? It could happen soon after its creation, later within the Shard of the Twelve Planes; could happen outside of them too. The story fits easily anywhere really, assuming Urza already made a name for himself in eyes of that planeswalker. It fits (possibly best) in the Modern Era (with Urza being already a legend), but could even happen much much later. Since there was no official setting/timing proposed (as far as I know) for Alpha and Revised, or for these stories, it's not possible to know.

    A side note - it's funny... The 4th Ed. has cards from practically all previous sets. But of course, since the Fallen Empires was a direct predecessor, they wouldn't reprint any of those cards in the 4th (at least that was my previous assumption of their reasoning). That fits nicely to the 4th's continuity angle (the Domains) and the isolation of the Fallen Empires' Sarpadia continent. I'm wondering now, how much design and how much coincidence was in this compatibility...

  7. Response to Mort part one:
    Maybe I'll make a completely chronological list of when sources were released someday. For now I've got enough on my plate reading and reviewing everything ;) figuring out all these discrepancies would be a lot of work for example. I can tell you that my copy of Distant Planes says "Copyright 1996", "A trade paperback edition of this book was published in 1996 by HaperCollinsPublishers" and "First HarperPaperbacks printing: April 1997". Make of that what you will...

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  9. Part 2 & 3:
    A more extensive argument for my placing of the other Harper Prism books: The PPG timeline is the first source I covered, and the most straightforward, that identifies the "present day" as "about 4000 years after the Brother's War". However, there are more hints that this is the case. Stories about the Ice Age and further back are continuously referred to as having happened in the past. Later Harper Prism stories have a lot of references to other books (and even to Roreca's Tale!) that tie them all together. And there is the "Empty Quarter", the period of time between Alliances and the present day that we know little about (Until Urza's block fills up quite a lot of it :P) At the very least all this evidence puts most Harper Prism stories somewhere between the Ice Age and the Invasion. Personally I think all the cross-referencing in the later Harper Prism novels is enough proof to state that they were all supposed to happen in the same time period, unless of course they are clearly set in the Fallen Empires or The Dark settings, or have other time-indicators. And since we have the PPG giving an approximate date to that present, I feel confident in placing all the not-otherwise-specified Harper Prism stories there.

    The Cursed Land is an tricky case, since there is no reference to anything in it, or a reference to it anywhere else. It could literally happen at any time during the timeline. (There is no use of mana burn in it, Malvos has a curse on him that leaves him poisoned when he tries to use magic. Plus, assuming that mana burn went out with the Mending is already a huge assumption.) However, my reasoning is that if there is nothing that moves a story out of "the present", that when it probably was intended to happen. The same goes for Introduction & Roreca's Tale. Thomil's appearance in Tapestries proves nothing except that he was alive around a time when Hurloon was around, but I do feel it strengthens the case that all these stories happen in a single "present".

    That is, of course, not definitive proof. Part of it is my interpretation. But a MTG Timeline will always need interpretation. Otherwise we can't place Homelands, Mirage, The Gathering Dark... even Planeswalker has conflicting sources on its timeline placement. As sad as it is to say, any timeline we make will always just be one of several possible interpretations of the sources. (Until I become Creative Manager and authorize my own, obviously.) And if I do have to make these kinds of decisions, I'll go for the interpretation that allows me to place as many stories on the timeline as possible. This is also why I think it is so important to provide references, and discuss inconsistencies. The placement of some stories may be based on my interpretations, but at least you'll know why I went with that interpretation. This is, if I may be so bold, the main improvement of this project over the MTGSalvation timeline.

    There is merit in your approach as well. You'll end up with a timeline on which all dates are provably correct. But you'll also get a huge list of stories that you just cannot place, which I want to avoid. If there really is nothing that enables me to place a story (This could be very possible for some of the WotC anthologies for example) I'll add an "Unknown" section to this page, but I want that to be an absolute last resort.

    I'll close with a quote from one of my heroes, Fnord12, who is doing a similar thing as I am, except he's trying to put all comics from the entire Marvel universe in the correct order. (Google Chronocomic if you want to see the fruits of his labour)

    "The order i choose isn't necessarily the only one possible. Many stories take place without any context that affects other books. But there can't be any contradictions in the order i've placed them in (or the contradiction has to be explained)."

  10. @1) I'd still encourage you to continue with the list. The dates don't even have to be so exact (hunting them down for some sources may not even be possible at this point). Even the rough estimates can still be very valuable for the interpretation, and give you some additional understanding of the evolution of the ideas behind the Multiverse. Adding a column with notes (most basic examples, we already talked about: in what time the term "spark" or "Blind Eternities" appeared for the first time? Was it conceptualized already in some earlier sources with a different name, just a description, or not at all? Where was the first mention of the Aether? and so on...) and possibly dates of new Creative Team members joining the ranks, or any other useful info could only be helpful. As an article, the list could be a mess though, but you can always keep it private, and just use as an aid. Just a suggestion.

  11. @2&3) I agree that some books set up the events as for example happening historically in the past (And Peace Shall Sleep has such a set up in the prologue). It was not universal though. Some, if not most of them, IIRC, happen just from the perspective of their own time (whatever it was), therefore a priori assumption to place any unspecified source in the "present time" seems wrong to me.

    What that means is that all the other existing evidence for each source has to be considered (the actual plot (cross-referenced with other plots), online articles, quotes from official inside-sources). And considering this evidence, we can actually roughly place every of these novels on the timeline*, except for The Cursed Land (and I know nothing much about the anthologies, so I'll just wait for the reviews).

    Now, I'm not saying I've read or remembered all of these sources - on the contrary (from the HP books, I've never read Tapestries, or Distant Planes - I guess the Roreca's Tale reference is in one of these two?). I accept that more evidence might be out there (possibly hidden somewhere in the as well). I simply responded to insufficiency of the timeline from the 4th Ed. PPG to be able to prove anything on that matter. The case should be built every time with all the (actually) supporting evidence (or at least by pointing out its existence, if you know about it, although it wasn't reviewed in the articles yet). If there's more, then I'm hoping to hear about it in the future.

    * The Prodigal Sorcerer - quotations from inside-documents are sufficient
    novels from Arena to Final Sacrifice - same here
    Ashes of the Sun extensively uses references to civilisations of modern Aerona and its fate was also mentioned on one of the modern maps of Aerona.
    Dark Legacy states clearly it was based on The Dark expansion + dates given by official sources.
    And Peace Shall Sleep states clearly it was about the Sarpadia continent and upcoming fall of its Empires + dates given by official sources.
    Song of Time's timing can be deduced from the events and dates given in its own reckoning.

    And sure, interpretation will always play a huge and important role in coming up with conclusions about this universe, but this implies you actually have some information to interpret. With The Cursed Land**, I don't find any convincing evidence so far, that would even allow for it.
    Now, I have nothing against exploration of possible, or even most likely fits. But I've read you wanted "to create a complete and completely correct version of the timeline once and for all" and that's quite different. ;P That's why I wanted thorough, strict approach. Alternatively, you can become the Creative Manager - I have nothing against that ^_^

    ** And yeah, I recall the novel more clearly now. But still not like you described it. ;) From what I recall now, Malovs, a sangranzul, was actually feeding on mana (not necessarily using it for magic). Didn't he try to finally satisfy his hunger, and then Tempe's curse/enchantment, in form of snake(?) tattoos, reacted and punished him?

    As for the Mending and mana burn - yeah, I was speculating - an example that first came to my mind. They dropped mana burn from the rules some time after the Mending stories, not instantly. But for as long as I've read the new sources, mana burn didn't happen once. And when Jace failed to cast a spell, mana simply dissipated instead of hurting him. That could be explained away, sure - in quite a few ways (specific rules on the plane; Jace's exceptional ability of handling mana; casting specific spell with a safeguard against mana burn) - but the synergy between the game and the story comes closer again, so it might as well be true. For now, I won't say either is necessarily true.

    1. I'll certainly make notes on the appearance of things like AEther, the Spark, the Blind Eternities, mana burn etc, both when the concept shows up and when the name shows up. As for making a complete timeline of releases, the status of the continuity team, first appearance of terms, etc... maybe someday. For now I've got enough on my plate just reading and reviewing stuff ;)

      For the timeline: The placing of the Harper Prism stories may indeed seem a bit premature based solely on the 4th edition timeline. However, further proof (especially the cross-referencing in later novels and anthologies) makes it seem clear to me that many were written as happening in a "now" that can certainly be defined as "between the Ice Age and the Invasion", and seems likely to line up with the more specific "4000 years after the Brother's War". You'll see more of this evidence as I get to the Anthologies, but I've also decided to do a wrap-up article when I've done all the Harper Prism stuff. In it I'll also give an overview of how the stories reference one another, and which ones are entirely stand alone. That should hopefully explain my placings a bit better. Though I'm sure it will also be the starting point of another discussion ;)

      As for Malvos: he accidentally touched the Soulsword, which triggered the curse. He indeed got poisoned by his animated snake-tattoos. The tattoos trigger upon Malvos "touching magic", which apparently includes everything from casting spells and eating magic, to just touching an artifact.

  12. Hm, I notice Coldsnap isn't mentioned anywhere here. Do we know just where that goes?

    1. Coldsnap takes place a few years after Alliances. The MTGSalvation wiki has it at 2 years after The Shattered Alliance, which I think comes from either an article on or from the Coldsnap fatpack booklet. I'll cover it... eventually!

  13. Do you intend to update this at all? Yes or no, do you know of any good timeline source for the "Gatewatch era"? Preferably one updated to use the 60 yrs post-mending date for Amonkhet. The timeline at mtgwiki (apparently your work, too, at least to begin with) currently stops with Tarkir.

    Cool blog! Found it yesterday through a mention in that "Who is the Raven Man" post that was linked on the Mothership, and now I think I have some reading to do!

  14. Do you intend to update this at all? Yes or no, do you know of any good timeline source for the "Gatewatch era"? Preferably one updated to use the 60 yrs post-mending date for Amonkhet. The timeline at mtgwiki (apparently your work, too, at least to begin with) currently stops with Tarkir.

    Cool blog! Found it yesterday through a mention in that "Who is the Raven Man" post that was linked on the Mothership, and now I think I have some reading to do!

    1. I am currently taking a break to do some catching up and to work out a good schedule for the blog, but once I'm doing reviews again this timeline will be further updated. But it will be a loooooong while before I get to the Gatewatch.

      I don't know of any complete Gatewacht-era timelines either, sorry.

      Glad you think the blog is cool :)

  15. I've read very nearly every magic story ever, but I can only say that because I've been reading the books since I was 8. So I recently decided to spend literally 4 hours putting material in order and writing my own timeline on a word document. It's very interesting how similar yours is to mine! We disagree on the placement of Elder Dragons and Kamigawa but otherwise reading over this, you make some points that made me make some revisions. I'm impressed with how much work it must have taken to write up all of this. And you, Mort, are a gem. I wish I had something constructive to add but I'll end with praise. Great job, Squirle