This post idea came from Carmen’s Reading Corner!
I have definitely discussed magic systems on this blog before, but to rehash what’s already been said: I love an interesting and complex magic system. I especially enjoy a magic system with definite consequences for using too much or the wrong kind of magic. I like when magic can grow to be incredibly powerful, but also limits what new magic users can do! So, here are my top five favorite magic systems in fantasy books.
5. The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
So I know that this one is the first in a series, but I’m not even done with this book yet so I’m not going to throw the whole series up haha. What I like about the magic system presented by Bardugo is that it has consequences, exceptions, and ritual involved. Things have to be done in a precise way and order, rules have to be followed, and even then you might still mess up. I like the idea that doing too much magic will inevitably doom you and that everyone accepts these consequences.
4. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
This series focuses on runic magic, wherein runes must be drawn with specific intentions to draw types of magic forth. I like when there’s ritual and structure to the use of magic, but I also enjoy the idea that everyone works with this magic a little differently. There are levels to magic reflected in the color of one’s heartglass–purple casters are simple witches, able to only draw on one or two types of magic total, silver casters are able to draw on all runes except for dark casters who can only draw on dark runes. I also enjoy the idea that dark magic slowly destroys you, as that’s a really interesting way to put a price on very powerful magic.
3. The Frith Chronicles by Shami Stovall
In this series, your magic is entirely based on the magical creature or eldrin you bond with. You are able to manipulate and generate magic based on your eldrin’s powers, and your skill must grow with time and practice. Additionally, there are limits to your skill based on your creature’s power–creatures are separated into tiers, with some tiers having unlimited power and strength and others having very minimal power. There are also other limits, such as second bonding.
2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
I never finished this series and I don’t think I ever will (that first book was polarizing to say the least), but as much as I didn’t like about the book I thoroughly enjoyed Grossman’s magic system. The use of hand signs, words, and energy manipulation to create a study-intensive magic system was really clever. I enjoy the fact that practice, natural skill, natural power, and affinity are all aspects of the magic system and I liked the way Grossman explores and explains the magic that is used.
1. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
I think this magic system will always be the biggest influence on my choices in reading and writing fantasy. The idea that words carry so much power, and that you yourself have a well of power that can be overdrawn, really impacted me. In Paolini’s series, some people have magic and some people don’t. Those that do absolutely have to learn to control that magic and to be specific with their intentions or risk killing themselves and others. I like that magic exists as something separate in many ways, drawing itself out of you when you invoke it and refusing to return unless you know what you’re doing.
What’s your favorite magic system in fantasy?