Monday, January 15, 2007
Here it is, my all time favorite thing about fantasy books. Magic. I like it in all forms. I love how author's play with the idea and come up with so many variations on the same idea. I love the idea of focusing the will, or saying some special incantation to achieve the desired results. When I was younger, one of my favorite authors was David Eddings. Now that I'm older his style doesn't appeal as much, but I still think he came up with one of the best depictions of magic in his series The Belgariad. He called it "the will and the word." Simple and accurate. In his world there aren't a lot of wizards or sorceresses, but the one's who do exist focus their will and release it with a spoken word. The gathering a releasing of power causes a psychic noise of sorts that only other magic users can hear. The more powerful the person, the louder the noise. Simple huh? But the fact that he came up with a whole theory behind the magic adds so much to the story in my opinion. Mercedes Lackey is another favorite author of mine. She also took the time to explain how magic occurs in her Valdemar series. What I especially like about Lackey is that she explains that there are many ways to be a practitioner of magic. One type of mage draws power from "nodes" that are natural occurring focal points of magical energy. Other types of magic involve invoking demons through the use of various spells and artifacts. I tend to prefer when an author clarifies where magic comes from. As enjoyable as Harry Potter can be, it always strikes me as a bit inconsistent. Anyone, whether born into a wizarding family or not, can be born with the ability to perform magic. Sometimes the wand is needed-- to focus the power I suppose-- and other times all that is needed is a special word. But author J.K. Rowling never really offers us a clear idea of the magic or its boundaries. The movies aren't half bad though. But magic in fantasy runs the gamut. The power has so many sources. It can come internally, from within the magic user, or from any number of outside sources. It can come from harnessing the elements or drawing on magical energy wells that only a magician can feel. Magic is only limited by the author's imagination. More and more authors like Jim Butcher are also bringing magic into the "real" world. Most of the authors that write these kinds of books seem to think that the best fit for magical creature in our world are in the form of vampires and werewolves. Maybe they're right, after all, those creatures come from our own superstitions. Judging from the number of fantasy books out there, I am not alone in my fascination with magic. And why not? The world of magic is full of possibilities and wonder. I don't know about you, but it's my favorite escape from the mundane.