Sorin Markov | Illustration by Michael Komarck
The year is 2011. I’d known about Magic for years, but it was only the previous year that I fully got into the game. I was 14 years old and had also recently discovered the wonders of goth and alternative subculture.
I go to my local game store and there’s some new posters and promotional material for Magic’s next block: Innistrad. It immediately catches my eye because this set also has a strong gothic theme and aesthetic, but there’s one figure in particular that blows my edgy teen mind away. A poster shows a pale man with long white hair in a black coat, wiping blood off his blade against the backdrop of a huge gothic castle. This was the first time I’d seen Sorin Markov, and I already knew he was one of my favorite planeswalkers.
Today we’re gonna take a look at Magic’s one and only vampire planeswalker, what he’s done throughout Magic’s history, and what the future might hold for him.
Who Is Sorin?
Sorin, Grim Nemesis | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
Sorin Markov is a black-aligned vampire planeswalker from the plane of Innistrad. He’s the heir of the Markov family, Innistrad’s first and most powerful vampires, and is one of the oldest planeswalkers currently alive. He wields the powers of sangromancy, or blood magic, which allows him to drain the life of his enemies and even reduce them to ashes.
Sorin was one of the three ancient planeswalkers who sealed away the Eldrazi titans in Zendikar during their first attack of the plane. He also took responsibility for the protection of Innistrad by creating Avacyn.
Sorin has led a mostly hedonistic and whimsical life, but his long life still led him to care about more long-lasting issues. This resulted in a long list of mysterious responsibilities and tasks all throughout the multiverse.
List of Sorin Cards
- Sorin Markov
- Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
- Sorin, Solemn Visitor
- Sorin, Grim Nemesis
- Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
- Sorin, Vampire Lord
- Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
- Sorin the Mirthless
Blood Alchemy and A Planeswalker’s Spark
Edgar Markov | Illustration by Volkan Baga
Sorin’s story begins with his grandfather, Edgar Markov, somewhere around 7000 years ago. An aged aristocrat and alchemist, Edgar was desperately looking for a solution to the famine that was ravaging his lands. This led him into dark experiments which culminated in a pact with a demon and drinking the blood of an archangel. This granted him the ability to survive on blood and longevity so massive it was basically immortality.
Edgar then granted this gift to the other aristocratic families of the land. Sorin was made to partake in the ritual by force, held down by other nobles and force-fed the archangel’s blood. This granted him vampirism but at the same time ignited his planeswalker spark due to the trauma caused by the entire situation.
Trapping the Eldrazi
Nahiri's Machinations | Illustration by Lake Hurwitz
Sorin’s travels led him to the discovery of the Eldrazi titans and their destructive effects on the planes of the multiverse. He tracked them to the plane of Zendikar, where he formed an alliance with Nahiri, the kor lithomancer native to Zendikar, and Ugin, the powerful spirit dragon from Dominaria.
The three planeswalkers used their massive powers to force the Eldrazi into physical form, which allowed them to lock the titans within the plane. This was only a temporary solution and brought great strife to Zendikar, but was enough for the time being. The three planeswalkers agreed that if their ritual were to ever be disturbed, they would return to the plane and fight the monsters again.
Protector of Innistrad, Vampiric Traitor
Archangel Avacyn | Illustration by James Ryman
Over the millennia after their creation, Innistrad’s vampires grew powerful and greedy. They became distant and disdainful of humans, becoming more brutal and violent against them. Sorin grew worried about this both out of care for the humans, which all vampires had once been, as well as for the future of vampires, who would need to start eating each other if humans would disappear.
To protect his plane and its inhabitants, Sorin drew from old beliefs and traditions related to the powers of the moon and the afterlife. Thus was born Avacyn, the guardian angel of Innistrad and its inhabitants. He also created the Helvault, a huge monolith that served as a magic prison for devils, demons, and other horrors.
The creation of Avacyn marked Sorin as a traitor to vampires. He became an outcast and a pariah to his own race, but Innistrad’s humans now had a way to fight back against their predators.
Nahiri’s Call for Help
Anguished Unmaking | Illustration by Wesley Burt
Back on Zendikar, the Eldrazi started stirring again. Their influence started to affect the plane and its inhabitants, which caused Nahiri to worry and send out a call for help to Sorin. The lithomancer arrived on Innistrad some time later, asking Sorin why he hadn’t responded to her signal for help. Sorin took an educated guess in explaining that the Helvault had interfered with the signal. Nahiri confronted him, to which Sorin responded by dismissing her and acting with pride. Nahiri threatened to attack him, causing Avacyn to interfere, and Sorin finally locked her within the Helvault to prevent her from causing any damage to Innistrad.
The Eldrazi Awaken
Eye of Ugin | Illustration by James Paick
Thousands of years after their imprisonment, the Eldrazi influence over Zendikar became stronger. This time Sorin became aware of the distress signal and traveled to the plane to see what was going on. Unbeknownst to him, the release of the Eldrazi was part of Nicol Bolas’s plans.
Once on Zendikar, Sorin realized he was the only one of the original trio to respond to the call. Nahiri was still trapped in the Helvault and Ugin had died on Tarkir (or alternatively, he was trapped within a Hedron cocoon, depending on the timeline). Sorin allied himself with Nissa and the vampire Anowon, and together they set out to the Eye of Ugin to sort out the Eldrazi issue.
The three took a long and perilous journey until they reached the Eye of Ugin where the titans were trapped. But Nissa decided to try a different plan from what Sorin had instructed, and instead of reinforcing the spell to trap the Eldrazi, she liberated them assuming they’d escape the plane. Sorin disdainfully washed his hands, claiming he’d done his part and had been ignored, and left the plane and Nissa to their luck.
Avacyn, the Purifier | Illustration by James Ryman
The vampire returned to Innistrad only to find it in chaos. Avacyn had mysteriously disappeared and the plane was in disarray. Sorin set out to solve this but was interrupted by the young planeswalker Tibalt, who was wreaking chaos all throughout the plane. Sorin was forced to postpone his work to stop the demon planeswalker from endangering Innistrad any more. While Sorin dealt with this new threat, Avacyn’s vanishing seemed to solve itself as the angel had returned.
With both issues solved, Sorin turned his attention back to the largest issue at hand: the recently released Eldrazi.
The Search for Ugin
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon | Illustration by Raymond Swanland
Sorin traveled to Tarkir, which seemed to be Ugin’s last known location. In the original timeline, Sorin found that dragons were extinct on the plane and Ugin had been killed.
This changed with Sarkhan’s time meddling in the plane. Ugin was now alive but locked within a hedron cocoon. Sorin released the dragon and informed him of the Eldrazi situation. Ugin thanked the vampire for his help and ordered Sorin to join him in Zendikar, and he better be accompanied by Nahiri.
Declaration in Stone | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson
Upon returning to Innistrad, sometime after Ulamog and Kozilek had already been destroyed by the Gatewatch on Zendikar, Sorin was once again met with a chaotic landscape. Nahiri had escaped and destroyed Markov Manor in the process, merging its inhabitants into its walls and turning the entire place into an impossibly-shaped declaration of war.
Sorin enlisted the forces of the other vampire families to fight the lithomancer’s threat against the entire plane. They forced him to agree to killing Avacyn, but once he found his beloved creation, she had become mad and violent, murdering innocents. Sorin fought the angel, eventually overpowering her and unmaking her away.
Only then Sorin realized what Nahiri’s true plan had been all along. As Sorin still mourned the death of Avacyn, Emrakul arrived on Innistrad, beaconed there by Nahiri.
Sorin, allied with Olivia Voldaren, went to face Nahiri in Markov Manor, while the Gatewatch and Liliana took care of Emrakul and her monstrous creations. Sorin and Nahiri fought but the lithomancer proved stronger, trapping Sorin within the walls of his own manor and leaving him to witness as Emrakul destroyed his home plane. Olivia taunted Sorin by proclaiming herself as the new lord of the plane, stole his sword, and left him to his fate.
War of the Spark
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord | Illustration by Tommy Arnold
Sorin somehow found a way out of the walls of his manor (the story during this period wasn’t exactly great or consistent, he somehow “carved” his way out, so we’ll just call it an off-screen deus ex machina) and was lured to Ravnica by the Interplanar Beacon. He learned that Nahiri was also on the plane and immediately decided to go after her in his thirst for vengeance. The two fought fiercely against each other as conflict grew around her. They eventually decided on a truce to fight Bolas’ dreadhorde. The two remained on Ravnica until Bolas was finally defeated, and then went their own ways.
Retirement in Innistrad
Moonsilver Key | Illustration by Joseph Meehan
Sorin returned to his home of Markov Manor to seclude himself. He became depressed and nihilistic as he lamented the failure of every single measure he’d put in place to protect his home. He was approached by Kaya, Teferi, Arlinn, and Chandra, who were looking for the Moonsilver Key to stop the coming of the Eternal Night. Blinded by grief, fury and regret, Sorin refused, claiming that if his family wanted to give in to their hedonistic desires and bring ruin to themselves and their plane, he’d let them.
Arlinn tried reasoning with him, insisting on all the good things he’d done for their world, but her mention of Avacyn enraged him.
Sorin tried attacking the planeswalkers but was interrupted by Sigarda, the only remaining one of Avacyn’s closest angels. She held the vampire back long enough that the rest could steal the Key and escape.
Crashing His Granddad’s Wedding
Wedding Festivity | Illustration by Caroline Gariba
The Gatewatch approached Sorin once again as they needed help to stop Olivia’s plans now that the Eternal Night had started. Sorin realized that the marriage between Edgar and Olivia would mean the annihilation of all humans within a couple of years, so he agreed to join the other planeswalkers to try and stop the wedding.
He attended the wedding as a guest, and attempted to stop Olivia, but she had prepared guards to restrain him with holy chains. He then tried to reason with his grandfather, realizing he didn’t wish for Edgar to be hurt, but the Markov patriarch was enthralled and dismissed Sorin’s pleas.
Katilda’s spirit and Sigarda interrupted the wedding, causing many of the guests to get hurt or die as the angel’s wrath brought the stained glass raining over them. Edgar escaped into the sanguitorium and Sorin followed him. The two fought each other as they hurled insults and old resentments were brought up. Edgar managed to defeat Sorin as he became distracted by his traumatizing memories of the Markovs’ turn into vampirism.
Sorin fell into a blood pool and was caught within his own thoughts as he sank. He forced himself back into his senses and used the blood around him to recover from his wounds. He came back out and went after Edgar. He found the old patriarch fighting against Teferi. Sorin fought and defeated his grandfather, but instead of killing him, chose to show mercy and let him leave. The entire conflict made Sorin realize all the things he had in common with the other planeswalkers.
Is Sorin a Good Guy? Is Sorin Evil?
The best way to define Sorin is probably as a morally gray good guy. His greater actions tend to be those of a good guy (fighting the Eldrazi, protecting Innistrad’s mortals) but he’s also nihilistic, violent, and pretty hedonistic and selfish.
Is Sorin Dead?
Sorin is alive and probably the best he’s been psychologically in like 2000 years. He’s as alive as any vampire can be, considering they’re all technically undead.
How Old Is Sorin?
At over 7000 years old, Sorin is one of Magic’s oldest characters and planeswalkers.
Where Is Sorin? Is Sorin Still in a Rock?
Sorin is currently working along with Arlinn Kord to prepare Innistrad’s defenses against the upcoming Phyrexian Invasion. Sorin clawed or chewed his way out of his manor’s walls some time before the War of the Spark. We don’t really know how this happened; we just know that it did.
Who Freed Sorin?
In-lore answer is he freed himself. Honest truth is bad writing and poor creative direction freed Sorin.
Who Is Edgar to Sorin? Is Sorin Edgar’s Son?
Edgar Markov is Sorin’s grandfather, Innistrad’s first vampire, and the man who turned Sorin into a vampire.
Is Edgar Stronger Than Sorin?
It’s hard to say who’d be stronger between them, but as of their last encounter, Sorin managed to defeat Edgar so let’s say Sorin is stronger for now. It should also be noted that Edgar had just woken up from a several-millennia-long nap, so he may not have been at his best. And even so he still gave Sorin a hard time fighting, almost defeating him at first.
Why Was Nahiri Mad at Sorin? Why Do Nahiri and Sorin Hate Each Other?
Nahiri became enraged at Sorin because the vampire didn’t answer her call for help when the Eldrazi first showed signs of awakening in Zendikar, and then dismissed the entire issue claiming he had no fault because he never received the call. When Nahiri tried to attack Sorin, he imprisoned her for centuries within the Helvault, only feeding into her rage.
Nahiri later got her revenge by destroying Sorin’s home and bringing Emrakul into his plane, before trapping him within the walls of that same home. He later escaped, but now they both hold a deep hatred for each other.
How Powerful is Sorin?
Sorin’s longevity and multitude of trips through the multiverse made him massively powerful, but his disinterest and instability can get in the way of his skills, bringing his power down. Current-day Sorin is also much less powerful than he used to be, given that he was alive before the mending that caused planeswalkers to lose a massive amount of their power.
How Did Sorin Become a Planeswalker?
Sorin was violently forced to become a vampire by his family and fellow nobles, and the mental distress and trauma from the process caused Sorin’s spark to ignite.
Did Sorin Make Avacyn?
Both Avacyn and the Helvault were created by Sorin as measures to protect the people of Innistrad from going completely extinct due to vampiric hedonism, as well as ways to fight against demons, devils, and other horrors.
Is Olivia Voldaren Marrying Sorin?
Olivia tried to marry Edgar, not Sorin, and the wedding was interrupted by Sorin, Katilda, Sigarda, and the Gatewatch.
Is Sorin in Crimson Vow?
Sorin is one of Crimson Vow’s main characters and he’s represented in Sorin the Mirthless.
Is Sorin in the Gatewatch?
Despite usually being on the same side as the Gatewatch and helping or collaborating with them, he’s not technically a part of it.
How Much Is Sorin Markov Worth?
Sorin Markov can go for around $9, with its most expensive version being the Mythic Edition print at $38.
Is Sorin Markov a Vampire?
No, the card Sorin Markov isn’t a vampire. As a planeswalker card, Sorin Markov’s only subtype is the Sorin one.
Is Sorin Markov in MTG Arena?
Sorin Markov isn’t available in MTG Arena.
Is Sorin the Mirthless a Vampire?
Sorin the Mirthless is a planeswalker card, so it can’t be a vampire.
Who Voices Sorin in MTG Arena?
Crispin Freeman is the actor who voices Sorin in Arena.
How Much Is Sorin, Grim Nemesis Worth?
Sorin, Grim Nemesis is worth around $3.
How Much Is Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord Worth?
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord’s different prints can cost between $1 and $3, but there’s a foil Japanese promo that can cost up to $84.
Bonus: Sorin Deck
Bloodghast (Secret Lair) | Illustration by Dan Mumford
Sorin Markov x2
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
Gatekeeper of Malakir x4
Guul Draz Assassin x2
Nirkana Revenant x2
Vampire Lacerator x4
Vampire Nighthawk x4
Vampire Nocturnus x2
Urge to Feed x2
Feast of Blood x4
Sadistic Sacrament x2
Since an EDH Sorin deck would simply be an Edgar Markov vampire tribal, and I don’t really play Modern, I’ve decided to rebuild a really fun casual deck I used to play years ago. It’s a monoblack vampire aggro deck based around the original Zendikar block vampires. Almost every card is from that block, and the ones that aren’t are from that time period anyway. It obviously wouldn’t stand a chance against some of today’s decks, but I always felt like it represents that first introduction to Sorin really well.
Sorin the Mirthless | Illustration by Martina Fackova
Sorin has fallen a few positions in my “favorite planeswalker” list since I first came across him. Characters like Arlinn Kord or Ashiok ended up catching my interest a bit more over time. I think Sorin suffered a bit from being written as way too cold and detached, yet still acting as a hero in various situations. I think the recent shifts in his personality may end up turning him into a more interesting character, but I do hope he keeps some of that detachment since it comes from him being impossibly old (and pretty traumatized too). And I support if his look remains closer to the one seen in Sorin the Mirhtless. For plot reasons, of course.
But enough about me going on about Magic’s oldest sad man. What do you think? Do you like Sorin? Do you think he’s cringe? What’s your favorite Sorin card? Leave a comment letting me know. And make sure to visit the Draftsim Discord where you can join our amazing community of Magic fans.
That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!
Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: