From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic – Fae Magic

I’ve loved tales of the wilder side of faerie legend since I was young. Books such as Good Faeries/Bad Faeries by Brian Froud (who also did the concept art for the amazing movie, The Labyrinth) caught my imagination. Not much has changed in the respect. Give me a mysterious, wild force, and I’m good to go.

E.G. Radcliffe, author of the The Coming of Áed trilogy, has a fae-like magic source in her world. It makes me think of all things wild and mysterious. She’s been kind enough to give a breakdown on magic in her fantasy books.

E.G. Radcliffe:

The Fae magic at work in The Coming of Áed trilogy–and most fully expressed in The Wild Court–is a naturally occurring phenomenon inherent in certain types of life on the non-human side of the veil. Much of it is understated: some mushrooms develop healing potential under the light of a full moon, some minerals possess connective magic that enables all of the rocks in a deposit to glow in unison, etc. Some of this naturally occurring magic occurs at a larger scale, with creatures like the water horse wielding power over certain lakes or rivers, enough to control the water itself and any vessels on the lake’s surface. However, the most powerful magic belongs to the fae.

The fae are inhuman creatures who live across the veil from the inhabitants of the Gut (the home region of the MC). Fae culture is complex and ancient, but from a purely physical standpoint, they are divided into two groups. The Low Fae and High Fae live separately, like mostly staying with like, and there are a number of differences between their magics.

Fae, as a whole, have two very important forms of innate magic. The first is the one most commonly portrayed in the folklore of the world: every faerie is born with the ability to summon fire. The fire of the Low Fae manifests in oranges and reds, reminiscent of a natural woodfire. It is either confined to the faerie’s body, or it can be sent out in a billow. This fire, like any ordinary blaze, causes no harm to other fae. The fire of the High Fae, on the other hand, is uniformly white, more akin to the color of daylight at high noon. High Fae fire has two distinct peculiarities, aside from its hue: firstly, it can burn Low Fae the way ordinary fire burns a human. Secondly, it can be cast into shapes so long as it maintains contact with the wielder–popular uses are as fiery spears or shields.

The second of the fae magics is much less flashy, and much more unnerving: their power over the mind. In most faeries, this power presents itself as the capability to read emotion very accurately. However, some fae have the capacity to cultivate this ability to a higher level. In its most terrifying form, it can be trained into the ability to induce emotion. This can be as straightforward as pulling up painful memories, or as twisted as inciting madness so targeted as to induce specific hallucinations. The latter is often perceived as illusion magic, and it is the extraordinarily rare faerie who is capable of using it. Magic surrounds the fae, generated like body heat; faintly, it permeates even the human realm.

For humans, magic is never inborn. Practicing it requires a concentrated mind and a certain ability to tune into the residues of fae magic, and is therefore highly difficult, mastered only by a few.  Human magic, however, is far more flexible than fae magic. While the fae are extremely powerful in two arenas, humans are limited only by their own concentration; wherever they are able to channel the magic, they can use it. After all, it isn’t theirs–a river cannot change its course, but the one who fills a bucket from it can put it to any number of uses.

To channel magic, there are a number of techniques. The most common is by learning a verbal ‘spell.’ The spell itself holds no inherent meaning: it is usually a series of nonsense syllables which, by their sound and shape, help the concentration of the user to flow along certain mental channels. Those channels of concentration are the same channels through which magic will be directed, producing a result. It is not dissimilar to meditation. In fact, a truly powerful magic-user will be able to achieve results without the guidelines of a spell, if their concentration and vision of the spell’s execution are adequately strong. Other techniques include motions (which fulfill a similar purpose to a verbal spell) and drawings (which are most useful when attempting to use magic to build something, like following a blueprint).

Usually, to master magic one must begin as a child. The reason for this is that children tend to be able to channel less magic, and therefore are less likely to hurt themselves in the stage of learning when errors are common. An adult attempting to learn magic for the first time would find that they could call upon too much–they would likely not be able to channel it, and it would slip out of their control, usually with destructive results. Culturally, magic use is seen as something occasionally necessary, but its practitioners are widely regarded with a degree of distrust.

Each character in the series is either a wielder of magic, a victim of it, or a student of it–for better or for worse. They are warriors; they are kings; they are sarcastic teenagers; they are queens, and consorts, and healers, and family.

About the author:

E.G. Radcliff is a part-time pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread. Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities. 

You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on all major social media platforms. 


Books:The Hidden King
The Last Prince
The Wild Court

Where to Buy:
Barnes & Noble

For more from this series:
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Wheel of Time
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Coldfire Trilogy
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Magic for Mercenary Kings
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Weather Warden
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- And Now This
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Blood, Fire, and Death
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Teaching Physics to Barbarians
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Discworld
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic-Let’s Talk Mistborn


3 thoughts on “From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic – Fae Magic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s