Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. A Radical Act of Free Magic will be available on July 20th. This is the second book in the Shadow Histories duology. You can find my review for book one, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, here.
I loved A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians and I had high hopes for its sequel. Let me say, A Radical Actof Free Magic did not disappoint! It continued the story perfectly, to the point where I felt like there hadn’t been a pause between the two books at all. This is a fantasy take on history (as evidenced by the fact that Wilberforce, Robespierre, and Napoleon are all characters) and Parry wrote it beautifully and with confidence. I think it takes a fair amount of skill to pull off something this ambitious. I have to say, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Parry came up with the idea for this series. Holy crow, it’s unique!
Parry’s writing is vivid and descriptive. I never lacked for details. There is no rushing to get to the action, which makes this a very slow moving book (at least for a good chunk of it). However, I was never bored. I was enthralled from the very beginning, sucked in by the richness of the prose. The story is a complicated one and could be confusing if not for the care taken to make sure each word is perfectly placed.
The characters were fascinating. I hesitate to say that I liked any of them, what with the fact that they are based on real people. Picking a favorite would seem weird to me. They were all great to read about; However, I did find Wilberforce’s point of view to be the most interesting.
I realize that I haven’t talked all that much about the fantasy aspect of this fantasy book. That’s because, oddly enough, it was the part of the book that interested me least. Okay, that doesn’t make sense since it is apparent throughout the story and is tied into the plot rather inextricably, but for me it’s the complex maneuvering and the moments of quiet tension that really drew me in.
This book isn’t all derring-do or action-packed moments. It has a slow build that is nonetheless engrossing. A Radical Act of Free Magic is smart, creative, and absolutely genius. I highly recommend reading it.
This week Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub has been the host of many discussions on magic systems in fantasy. I’ve been joined by some amazing contributors, both bookbloggers and authors. Before I close out the week, though, I have to talk about The Night Circus.
I love this book! I mean rereading, paraphernalia-owning love. Reading The Night Circus is like wandering though a beautiful dream. I’m going to attempt to talk about magic in the world of The Night Circus, but please forgive me if the post rapidly dissolves into gushing. I promise I’ll try to keep it in check.
What makes the magic in The Night Circus different from other magic systems is not the how but the what. Magic doesn’t exist in the world of The Night Circus, magic is the world. The stage is set, the circus a playing board for a duel between two separate schools of thought. Two powerful magicians battle each other to see whose magic is better- that of Marco, who uses glyphs and symbols; or Celia, who uses her own mind as the focal point.
There are rules to how the magic works, but the reader is drawn into the magic itself. Everything is a product of one magician or the other, from the black-and-white striped tents, to the cloud maze, and everything in-between. Words and creativity become real. And, holy crow, author Erin Morgenstern is creative! Her words themselves weave a magic spell around the reader.
“When the battle are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang Souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they could never predict. From the mundane to the profound.”-Erin Morgenstern
And here’s the crux of it: every book is magic. Every author has the power to draw a reader into a world both different and new. As readers we know the power of words. The books we’ve talked about this week are samplings of some of the incredible magic that words can cast on the reader. A book can entertain, it can teach. It can open a path to new worlds, or comfort someone during a difficult time.
I am incredibly grateful to bloggers who gave their time and energy to a discussion on magic, and to the authors who were willing to talk about their magic systems. Each book we focused on has a unique, creative magic system. I hope you found some new books to add to your tbr and some new bloggers to follow.
What magic system has completely floored you? Tell me what you loved about it. I’m a glutton for punishment, go ahead and add to my tbr!
“There are many kinds of magic, after all.”– Erin Morgenstern
About the blogger:
Jodie is the creator of the Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub blog and a contributor to Grimdark Magazine. She either lives in Florida with her husband and sons, or in a fantasy book-she’ll never tell which. When she’s not reading, Jodie balances her time between homeschooling her hooligans, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and lamenting her inability to pronounce “lozenge”.
Over the last week, I’ve been focusing on magic in fantasy. I am in no way an expert, just an appreciative fantasy fan. I have been fortunate in that many amazing authors and bloggers have been generous with their time and have talked about some great examples of magic in fantasy.
Today, Beth from Before We Go Blog makes a compelling case for moving Jim C. Hine’s Magic ex Libris series to the top of the never ending to be read pile.
As a huge lover of fantasy novels, I have read about a magic system or two. There are some that stick out that have been extraordinary in one way or another.
One often mentioned is the magic of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. He created the magic called allomancy, where the ingestion of certain metals gives the user certain powers. How much metal is consumed, and who consumed them, and whether they can be digested is where things get interesting. Not everyone can walk up to an ingot of silver, chow down, and hope to digest it. The powers are all different with different combinations of things. It gets fascinating, and the possibilities are endless. It is an excellent example of the creativity that magic systems can have. However, it is not as cool as Jim C. Hines’s series, Magic ex Libris.
“…bookstores, libraries… they’re the closest thing I have to a church.”
It is essential to call out again; I am a big reader. I love escaping into books, literally escaping into new worlds. But what if, instead of escaping into a world, I can pull something from stories into reality? It seems like the ultimate expression of power. For example, I am battling a foe. We are sizing each other up as foes are want to do. This person has really pissed me off by eating my favorite silver necklace. Grabbed it right off my neck and started swallowing it. “You wanna battle do you? I liked that necklace.” We happen to be battling in a library. Don’t laugh; lots of rough people go to libraries. I reach into Harry Potter and grab harry’s wand from inside of the book. I use that to whip up a wind vortex, then I grab Peter Bentley’s Jaws off of the shelf, and pull the entire great white shark out of the book and drop it on their head. I am sorry for the whale. Sacrifices need to be made. Don’t worry, I know my foe is still chewing a piece of silver and wouldn’t notice the giant shark that I lofted them.
“Two libriomancers had been disciplined for trying to get an early copy of the last Harry Potter book.”
Or maybe I am feeling sassy and grab Moby Dick instead of Jaws, and I drop a whale on them. Oops, darn it. I grabbed the wrong book. This whale said, “Oh no, not again.” Before falling from a great height, followed by a very confused flower pot. Same effect. I have the power and the entirety of literature to pull from, and right now, I am just working with aquatic animals. Maybe, they would like a kracken instead? There are plenty of those in literature.
All I am saying is they can go ahead and eat their piece of metal. I’ll throw a shark at them, followed by a whale, then another whale, and a flowerpot. Don’t get me started on movie adaptions, Sharknado anyone? Then I will pull the tea and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and have a nice lunch.
Obviously, there is some plotting that Hines does around this brilliant magic system. It isn’t all fun. Pulling whales from books does take some work. But I love that at its core, this magic system speaks to lovers of reading. It feels like being a well-read person is rewarded with the ability to do magic, and that is amazing. That is pretty much living the dream, reading a book, taking knowledge from the book, and becoming a badass. This is why Magic ex Libris is my favorite system, and I recommend it to anyone who is a big reader. Where else would trivial knowledge of Jaws, Moby Dick, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy come into use all at once?!
It’s been a magical week on Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub! Magic is often a staple in a good fantasy world. One of the many things I love about magic in urban fantasy is the dichotomy between magic and machine. Can they coexist? And if so, how would one interact with the other?
Tabitha from Behind the Pages weighs in on magic in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.
When I found out Jodie over at Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub was doing a project based on magic systems I had to join in! Unique magic systems are a key element to the fantasy books I truly enjoy. While characters certainly play a large part in what I love, I need the magic system to be a worthy component as well. Today we’ll take a look at the magic in the urban fantasy Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews.
The series takes place in Atlanta, Georgia after a magical apocalypse has accosted the world. People tried to advance technology and did not take the proper precautions. Now waves of magic are tearing the world apart. When a wave of magic hits, all technology dies. Cars, phones, guns, electricity you name it. When the magic is up, the tech is down. And the skyscrapers that cities were known for? Those have been turned to rubble unless enough people shell out the money and magic to protect them. People have developed magical vehicles (noisy as hell), that can clunk around and run when the magic is high. But when the magic wave ends, you’ll still be stranded.
The main rule of magic in the world of Kate Daniels is that technology and magic cannot coexist. Anyone with the slightest bit of power can use magic, and sometimes that means those who are a bit foolhardy may summon nasty creatures from another world. You might even wake up a God who starts destroying the city. My advice is to not dabble in magic unless you know what you are doing.
And while there aren’t exactly spells, wards can be drawn for protection and certain individuals can use their magic in specialized ways. Take for instance the vampires. They are undead mindless killers. However, if you can use your magic to pilot them, they are weapons and tools. The Masters of the Dead are a group of magic users who keep hoards of vampires locked up for their uses. While piloting a vampire they can see and hear everything their chosen vessel can see, and they can even use its vocal cords to talk. But sending a vampire into battle can be tricky. If it is destroyed and the magic user piloting it does not remove their mind from the vampire in time, it could have devastating results for the magic user.
Then you have Kate Daniels, whose magic is in her blood. As part of the mercenary guild, she is called in to clean up the magical messes the police can’t handle. She can manipulate a vast amount of magic due to her heritage, and she has an affinity for the undead she is loath to use. As the series progresses, you’ll find that her blood can be used in a variety of ways. For the sake of keeping this a spoiler-free post, you’ll just have to read the series to find out. 😉 But it’s never a good idea to only rely on magic, so Kate is a skilled swordswoman for when the magic is down.
The magic system of the Kate Daniels series increases in intensity with each book. Ilona Andrews has paced the series to gradually show the increased strength and chaos of the magic that has been unleashed. As readers progress, they will find all manner of supernatural creatures and magical mayhem cropping up from the magic waves. And Kate Daniels is right there in the thick of it trying to keep her city together as best she can.
About the blogger:
Hello everyone! My name is Tabitha and I run a review blog called Behind the Pages. It’s my little corner of the internet where I geek out about books. I’m an avid fantasy reader, but dabble in other genres from time to time. Book blogging has allowed me to connect with so many other people who love reading as much as I do. I hope you enjoy this snippet of my bookish thoughts!
Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub is focusing on magic in fantasy novels all week. I have been fortunate to have guest authors and bookbloggers discussing the magic systems in books. It’s a broad subject and one that I find fascinating.
As all readers know, words have power. They can teach, evoke emotion, or even change a person’s perspective. Well, words have power in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library in a more literal way. Today the Book Pyramid has joined the conversation to talk about magic in her excellent fantasy series.
Thank you Jodie for having me on your wonderful blog! There are so many intriguing and fascinating magic systems out there. When I start a new series, I am always hopeful that I will discover a new, interesting one, as it is one of the main elements of the Fantasy genre that really hooks me in for the ride. One of the most unique one I have discovered recently comes from the Invisible Library series, by Genevieve Cogman. In it, we are introduced to this inter-dimensional library that collects rare texts and books for parallel dimension versions of our world by sending their Librarians (really more like field agents) to retrieve their targets. These agents have been trained in many disciplines to survive the always different environments and threats of the many worlds they must travel to, but perhaps their most valuable skill is the power to use The Language.
The Language is the main magic system we are introduced to in The Invisible Library. I say “main” here as there are other forms of magic in the worlds our main character travels to, but the one at the centre of it all, the one being used by our protagonist, is The Language. Now what I thought was super interesting about The Language is that it has a set of very specific rules and boundaries. It cannot be used to summon elemental creatures or cast a fireball at your enemies, but instead it lets its users manipulate the world around them by talking to it, by issuing it commands. So while in some fantasy novels, magic users can be all-powerful gods who can wreck havoc on entire armies and lay waste to kingdoms with a flick of the wrist and an uttered word, our Librarian has to use her powers within the limits of what they can accomplish and that makes for some very compelling situations.
That is not to say that The Language is not a versatile tool to have in your toolbox. Quite the contrary actually, as there are millions of ways you can interact with your environment and to make it do what you need to do. For example, you might speak The Language and say “Door, close and Lock!” If you are being pursued, but be careful, as every door that can “hear” your command will obey it. You might command Water to boil, museum figures to Come alive to help you out, or tell a gun to Jam and explode, but one who commands The Language always must be careful of using it in the exact way they need it to avoid what could be catastrophic consequences.
While I am not one to look down on a good old fashion lightning bolt or healing spell, I found the intricacies of The Language to be very compelling. The fact that it allows its user to manipulate almost everything around them gives them an almost infinite array of tools to use in the right situation, while keeping the power level in check to maintain the sense that anything could go wrong at any time. An all powerful mage might be a very cool character, but they also might remove the sense of threat and danger that keep me invested in our character’s well being. I have read the first two book of this series and in each one the author finds new, unique ways for her heroine to use The Language to get herself out of all kinds of crazy predicaments. Magic systems are such an important part of the Fantasy genre and it always feels special when you find one you enjoy so much that you wish you were able to use it yourself. That is why I choose Genevieve Cogman’s The Language for this article.
Maybe if I try…
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… did it work?
About the blogger:
Max is a career book seller and long time book reader and collector. His passion for books is only rivaled by his unease at writing about himself in the third person. When he is not out camping or playing board games with his family, he can usually be found sitting near a window, wrapped up in a blanket and reading a Fantasy or Mystery novel, with a glass of his latest single malt found and his three-legged cat Peggy nearby. You can read more of his stuff here:https://thebookpyramid.wordpress.com
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.
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.
We’ve been discussing magic systems in fantasy books this week. There are so many different kinds of systems, some a little closer to the “classic” magic system found in earlier books, and others that are completely different.
Today, Sue from the fantastic blog Sue’s Musings, gives a wonderfully laid-out explanation of the magic system in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. You really can’t have a discussion on different magic systems in fantasy without mentioning Sanderson’s incredibly detailed and well-thought out addition to the genre.
In Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books there are three types of magic: Allomancy, Ferruchemy and Hemalurgy, with Allomancy being the most prevalent. The thing I like the most about the Allomancy system is that it makes physical sense. It is governed by the laws of physics, if a “pushing” or “pulling” force is applied to something by an Allomancer, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.
Allomancers use metals to enhance their mental and physical capabilities by ingesting them. Allomancers capable of only “burning” (or using) one metal are known as “Mistings”, whereas those who can use multiple metals at once are known as “Mistborn”. There are different types of Misting, named for their capabilities:
Coinshots use steel to “push” on metals in their area. This lets them force metals which weigh less than they do, such as coins, away from themselves at speed to act as a weapon. If a steel object weighs more than the Coinshot, physics will mean that the person is pushed away from the metallic object. A Coinshot is unable to “push” on alluminum or its alloys, so an aluminium bullet can be used to kill a Coinshot.
Lurchers “burn” iron and are able to “pull” on metals that are close by. This lets them pull metallic objects weighing less than they do towards themselves. If an iron object weighs more than the Lurcher they can pull on it to cause themselves to be pulled towards it. A Lurcher cannot feel or pull alluminium or several of its alloys.
Tineyes use Tin, to enhance their senses. Tineyes are often used as lookouts because, when burning Tin, they can see in when there is barely any light. A Tineye can be stunned for a short while by a loud noise or bright light overwhelming their senses while they are burning tin.
Tin also enhances mental capabilities and allows a Tineye, or Mistborn to assess a situation more quickly than non-Tineyes.
Pewterarms or Thugs
When burning Pewter, Pewterarms or Thugs are able to enhance their physical capabilities, allowing them to fight for longer than a normal person, or perform strenuous tasks for longer, since they become much stronger while burning pewter. This increased strength also means they can heal quicker and also have greater balancing skills, speed and dexterity. A “pewter drag” allows a Thug to run for hours at speeds similar to a racehorse. However this drains their body and requires them to continue burning pewter after the run to heal themselves and stop themself from dying of exhaustion. Running out of pewter at the wrong time can therefore be fatal to a Thug. If they are carrying something extremely heavy and their pewter runs out they could be crushed by the object.
Bronze is burned by Seekers and tells them if another Allomancer is using metals in their area.
A Seeker can often pinpoint the location of the person using metals and figure out which metal they are burning, and so what kind of capabilities they will have.
Copperclouds or Smokers
Copperclouds, affectionately known as Smokers have the ability to burn Copper and hide themselves from Seekers. The area they hide is known as a Coppercloud. Smokers therefore help Allomancers within gangs from being spotted.
By burning Zinc, Rioters are able to affect the emotions of the people around them. In this way they can incite a riot, or just affect one person within a crowd.
Soothers burn Brass and can soothe the emotions of an individual or a group of people.
An Augur can burn gold. This lets them see what might have happened if they had made different choices in the past. This can lead to emotional trauma, so it is rarely used.
Oracles can burn Electrum, an alloy of gold. This lets them see their future.
Pulsers burn Cadmium which lets them slow down time in a bubble they set around themselves. Noone can enter or leave the bubble while the Cadmium is being burned.
Sliders burn Bendalloy, which allows them to speed up time within a bubble they set around themselves. If a Pulser and Slider set a bubble at the same place their effects cancel each other out.
Nicrobursts or NicrosA Nicro burns Nicrosil, which causes their target’s metals to burn off in a brief intense flash.There has to be physical contact for this to work.
Seers are able to burn Atium, one of three “God metals”, the others being Lerasium and Malatium. Atium is mined in the Pits of Hathsin and is the most valuable metal in the world and coveted by the nobility and Allomancers. Atium lets the Mistborn burning it see a few seconds into the future, which lets them anticipate the moves of their opponent. It also enhances their mind to help them understand these new insights, effectively making a Mistborn invincible for a short amount of time. Atium burns very quickly.
The other two God metals are not used by specific types of Allomancers and are:
Lerasium lets the burner (which can be anyone) become a Mistborn, giving them access to all of the Allomantic metals. These beads are the source of Mistborn, which is a genetic trait.
Malatium is an alloy of Atium and Gold which lets an Allomancer see someone’s past. In legend it is called the Eleventh Metal. Kelsier thought it would defeat the Lord Ruler when burned in his presence, but that did not happen. Instead, it showed Vin the Lord Ruler’s possible life as a mountain guide. From this vision she worked out that he was Rashek, not Alendi and was able to figure out how to defeat him.
Feruchemy is the second magic system in the Mistborn series. I find this to be a particularly intriguing magic system. It would be fantastic to be able to store away knowledge, strength or wakefulness for a time in the future when you might need it. You could revise for an important exam and store all of the knowledge away in a metalmind. You wouldn’t have any of those useless facts floating about in your brain as you went about your daily business. Then you would be able to retrieve all of the knowledge exactly when it is needed.
A Ferruchemist does not burn metals in the way that an Allomancer does. Instead they use them to store up their own power – as containers known as “minds”. A Ferruchemist can transfer all of their energy into a mind but will then be without energy until they become rested and restored. They can draw on the stored up energy at a later date. A Feruchemist can draw out the power of the metalmind with barely any upper limit, using it up in one big burst if they want. In this way a Feruchemist using a pewtermind can be a whole lot stronger than a powerful Mistborn burning pewter, but for a limited time. The Terris people such as Sazed have Ferruchemy in their genes.
* Iron: Stores Weight. Less weight slows descent . A Skimmer Ferring using this will decrease the pull of gravity on them in exchange for increasing it later.
* Steel: Stores Physical Speed. A Steelrunner Ferring using this will be physically slower now in exchange for being faster later.
* Tin: Stores Senses. A Windwhisperer Ferring using this will become less sensitive in one of the five senses of his choice (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) in exchange for heightening that sense later.
* Pewter: Stores Strength. A Brute Ferring using this will lessen the size of his muscles to increase them later
* Zinc: Stores Mental Speed. A Sparker Ferring using this will think very slowly in exchange for thinking faster later.
* Brass: Stores Warmth. Firesoul Ferrings using this will cool themselves in exchange for being able to warm themselves later by tapping the metalmind.
* Copper: Stores Memories. An Archivist Ferring using this will be able to store memories inside copper, forget it, then will be able to recall it with perfect clarity later while withdrawing it from the metal.
* Bronze: Stores Wakefulness. A Sentry Ferring using this will sleep or be drowsier now in exchange for staying awake longer later.
* Cadmium: Stores Breath. A Gasper Ferring may hyperventilate while storing breath in exchange for eliminating or reducing the need to breathe later on.
* Bendalloy: Stores Energy. A Subsumer Ferring using this can consume large quantities of food and store the calories in the metalmind, in exchange for the ability to forgo eating later.
* Gold: Stores Health. A Bloodmaker Ferring using this will feel sick now in exchange for increased regeneration and healing later.
* Electrum: Stores Determination. A Pinnacle Ferring using this will become depressed in exchange for a manic state when tapping the metalmind.
* Chromium: Stores Fortune. A Spinner Ferring will become unlucky during active storage in exchange for increased fortune later.
* Nicrosil: Stores Investiture. Little is known about Soulbearer Ferrings.
* Aluminum: Stores Identity. Trueself Ferrings can store their spiritual sense of self within an aluminum metalmind.
* Duralumin: Stores Connection. A Connector Ferring can store spiritual connection inside a metalmind, reducing friendship and outside awareness during active storage, in exchange for the ability to quickly form friendships and relationships while tapping.
* Atium: Stores Age. A Feruchemist using this will become older now in exchange for becoming younger later, the same amount of years for the same time.
Mistborn Allomancers who are able to also use Ferruchemy, such as the Lord Ruler gain great advantages over their opponents. There are certain Allomancers called Twinborns, who can only access one type of metalmind, and also have one Allomantic power (the following is taken from the Mistborn Wiki: https://mistborn.fandom.com/wiki/Mistborn_Wiki):
* By burning a metal containing a stored attribute, such as burning atium which contains youth, the user effectively makes a profit on the attribute stored in the metal due to allomancy’s property of drawing power from the metal. Thus the user gains more of the attribute than invested. A Twinborn who can do this is called a Compounder. An example of this process is the Lord Ruler’s immortality which he achieves through periods spent aged and sickly, storing youth in atium and health in gold, which he later burns and stores in the main metalminds which sustain him. With effectively limitless amounts of youth and healing, he convincingly posed as a god. Note that the attribute stored must have originated from the user, hence Vin’s inability to use the power in Sazed’s pewtermind.
* If a Feruchemist taps an Ironmind and steelpushes or ironpulls, then they can increase their weight to become the anchor for the push or pull, even if an enemy also manipulating the piece of metal weighs more, or the metal weighs more than the user. One could also decrease their weight to gain more movement of their own body from each push or pull.
* If a Feruchemist taps a Pewtermind, Steelmind, Bronzemind, and Goldmind and Allomantically burns Pewter, they will gain increase in Strength, Speed, Wakefulness and Health beyond what one would normally be able to achieve. This will work if you tap smaller combinations of those minds, however, only for the attributes you tap.
* Likewise, if a Feruchemist taps a Tinmind and Allomantically burns Tin, then their senses will increase beyond what one would normally be able to achieve.
* If one Allomantically burns a metal then fills the Metalmind of the same attribute, they can fill the metalmind without lessening that attribute. This is why one might burn pewter to fill a Goldmind, then fill an Atiummind and tap the Goldmind, possibly creating the Lord Ruler’s ability to live forever. This is most prevalent with burning pewter, which can fill Pewtermind, Steelmind, Zincmind, Brassmind, Bronzemind, and Goldmind.
* If a Pewtermind is filled using Allomancy burning pewter, then the Feruchemist won’t experience an increase in muscle size when they tap their collected strength from the Metalmind. This allowed the Lord Ruler to tap enormous strength without revealing his use of Feruchemy to onlookers.
The third magic system in Mistborn is called Hemalurgy. This one creeped me out somewhat as it involves metal spikes being inserted into a person’s body/vital organs.
To use Hemalurgy, a metal spike must be driven through someone’s heart. Then the spike is taken and stabbed into the body of another person, the location of which determines the power transferred. The preferred method is to stab it directly through the heart into the other person, as the longer it is left out of the body the more power is lost. While Allomancy is the art of Preservation and Feruchemy is the art of balance, Hemalurgy is the art of Ruin, as the transfer of power destroys some of it. Allomancy creates power, and Feruchemy does not destroy or create, but preserves. Having a hemalurgic enhancement makes one susceptible to Ruin’s influence (e.g. Zane, to whom Ruin could directly communicate; and Vin, who occasionally heard Ruin’s voice in her head, though she mistook it for memories of her brother, Reen) or even to his control (e.g. Steel Inquisitors in books two and three). This, along with the fact that kandra and koloss, both of which are hemalurgically enhanced, can be controlled by Soothing, leads to the further speculation that hemalurgic enhancement of any kind makes one susceptible to being controlled by an outside force.
* Iron: Steals human strength
* Steel: Steals Allomantic physical powers
* Tin: Steals human senses
* Pewter: Steals Feruchemical physical powers
* Brass: Steals Feruchemical cognitive attributes
* Zinc: Steals human emotional fortitude
* Copper: Steals human mental fortitude, memory, and intelligence
* Bronze: Steals Allomantic mental powers
* Aluminum: Removes all powers
* Duralumin: Steals Connection/Identity
* Atium: Steals all Allomantic and Feruchemical powers
* Malatium: Unknown
* Gold: Steals Feruchemical hybrid powers
* Electrum: Steals Allomantic Enhancement powers
Hemalurgy + Allomancy
When an Allomancer increases a certain aspect of themselves using Hemalurgy this aspect can gain new powers assuming the Allomancer can already use this power.
What each metal does after Hemalurgically increased is as follows:
An Allomancer is able to pull much harder. Since Steel Inquisitors can pull upon metals inside people’s bodies, it is assumed this power is granted also
An Allomancer is able to push much harder. Since Steel Inquisitors can push upon metals in people’s bodies, it is assumed this power is also granted.
A Seeker can pierce Copperclouds.
A Smoker can prevent his cloud from being pierced, and put his cloud around a wider range.
A Soother is able to soothe peoples emotions at more drastic rates
A Rioter is able to Riot peoples emotions at more drastic rates.
A Tineye is able to increase their senses to far higher rates.
A Pewterarm is able to have incredible strength when burning pewter.
Hemalurgically Enhanced Groups/Characters
* Steel Inquisitors (many spikes in various places in their bodies)
Marsh- He became a Steel Inquisitor at the end of book one and provided the crew with more in-depth knowledge of the nature of the Inquisitors.
* kandra (a pair of spikes called the kandra blessings)
* koloss (four spikes positioned in various places in their body)
* Vin (earring that her mother gave to her)
* Zane (spike through the middle of his chest that allowed the God Ruin to speak to him and likely granted him increased precision with steel)
* Spook (tip of a sword left in his shoulder during a fight lets him burn pewter
Sue Bavey: Sue is an English mum of two teens living in Massachusetts with husband, kids, a cat, and a bunny. She enjoys reading all kinds of genres, especially fantasy, historical fiction, and thrillers.
As we continue our discussion on magic in the fantasy genre, I am privileged to welcome author Satyros Phil Brucato. His novel, Red Shoes, focuses on music as magic. Having been moved by music (as most people have been at one time or another), I was immediately intrigued by the idea. Satyros’ magic system is unique and grounded in the idea of music transcending the ordinary and becoming something more, something magical.
The song poured into me, lent me strength. The pounding beat melted into my pulse. Heavy chords filled my muscles, energizing me, throwing each power chord behind each punch, kick and block. My heart beat in time with the music.
It was glorious.–Red Shoes, by Satyros Phil Brucato
Music, fantasy, and magic. All three have been vital elements of my life since childhood, and so they’re vital elements of my writing, too. In my forthcoming novel Red Shoes (Quiet Thunder, Spring, 2021), I combined those elements into a tale of love, loss, abuse, revenge, and eventual recovery. Genét Shilling, a young bellydancer, sees her friend Blue burn to death on stage. As she traces the cause behind Blue’s death, Genét learns that our “reality” fluctuates in strange and sometimes awful ways. Sound, she discovers, manifests throughout creation. Everything is composed of sublime frequencies, and folks who understand that fact can manipulate time, physics, vital energies, and the nature of reality itself. Few people, thankfully, know how to manipulate sound with such potency. Those who can do so, however, command uncanny powers…
“How so, Meghan? And what sort of ‘powers,’ exactly?”
“Well,” she said, settling into the role of my mystic advocate, “the theory is that everything that exists came from a primal cosmic sound. You know that whole om thing people do in yoga class?”
I nodded. “Yeah,” I said. “Go on.”
“That’s supposed to be an echo of the cosmic sound – the Om, like the real one. The universe is supposed to be the echoes and refractions of that sound, running throughout the universe in infinite frequencies. If you tap into those frequencies, you can change the laws of physics and manifest things that science says are impossible.”
“This is a weird-ass conversation, Meg,” I said, trying to joke off the eerie crawl up the back of my neck. “You sure we’re not dreaming right now?”
“If we are,” she said with a flatness that turned that crawl into a full-force shudder, “then it’s a dream I’ve been living for most of my life.”
There’s so much that even best friends don’t know about each other.
Genét’s best friend, Meghan, learned this stuff the hard way. During a mysterious event in high school (the subject of my next novel, Black Swan Blues), Meghan tapped into those powers by accident. Thankfully, she wound up being trained by people who understand those principles. In Red Shoes, Meghan and Genét call some of those friends in to help sort out the mess behind the burning girl’s demise. Time shifts. Blood flows. Secrets break wide open. All lives change. Some lives end.
For my approach to magic in Red Shoes and Black Swan Blues, I drew upon Vedic and Pythagorean metaphysics, combined with my own experience as a musician, dancer, DJ, and lifelong music fan. Sound, from this perspective has both physical and metaphysical effects. The physical ones are obvious: vibrations that arouse, excite, and occasionally harm living organisms and inanimate materials alike. On a metaphysical level, such vibrations shift emotions, inspire passions, and potentially connect us – for better and worse – with cosmic powers we barely understand. The idea for Blue’s death came from legends of the Dikpa Raga: a song that supposedly burns the singer alive with heat so intense it can evaporate a riverbed. I combined that idea with alchemical principles of transformative vibration and that weird time-dilation sense you get when you’re listening to great (or terrible) music or enjoying (or enduring) a great (or terrible) concert. Adding in the ups and downs of music culture and the people who create it, I wrote an urban faerie tale rooted in real-life experience and my own perceptions of this world. I’ve explored those ideas in my other work as well, especially Powerchords: Music, Magic & Urban Fantasy, Deliria: Faerie Tales for a New Millennium, and several short stories collected in my book Valhalla with a Twist of Lethe. The title track of that collection features the Norse thunder god attempting to become a rock star, realizing that the essence of human creativity flows from the uncertainties of mortal life. That interplay between sublime vibrations and earthy passions fascinates me. Although my real-life musical pursuits come nowhere near the powers manifesting in my fiction, I’ve experienced enough of such powers in my life, channeled through artists far more talented than I am, to know that while I exaggerate such magic in my fiction, the essence of that magic is real.
Red Shoes should be available for preorder this June, in print, digital and audio editions, from Quiet Thunder Productions. Ivy Tara Blair reads the audiobook edition, and she’s done a marvelous job.
About the author:
Satyros Phil Brucato is known best for his work with Mage: The Ascension, Strowlers, Deliria: Faerie Tales for a New Millennium, and various fiction and nonfiction projects spanning dozens of anthologies, magazines, games, comics, and other media. An occasional musician and outspoken political activist, Satyr lives in Seattle with his spouse Sandra Swan, two cats, and an endless supply of rage.
For an ongoing essay on this subject, expanded from an article I published in Realms of Fantasy magazine, check out the “Mystic Rhythms” series on my blog:
I had a hair-brained idea for my blog: a discussion on magic in fantasy! Not just in one fantasy book, but across the broad spectrum that is my favorite genre. Of course, there is absolutely no way I could do something like that justice, so I put a call out for bookbloggers and authors to lend their unique perspectives. They have shown up in a huge way to kindly share their time and opinions.
Author and Youtuber Rob Edwards sharing his thoughts on a big addition to fantasy: Discworld. You can hear his discussion on YouTube.
Look, there in the dark.
It’s hard to judge size when the only comparison available is an endless stretch of inky dark nothingness, but the shape is huge. Beyond huge. Huge, and moving. Huge, moving and, on reflection, not just one shape, but a compound, complex set of shapes. Flippers. An impossibly vast shell. And standing on that shell, four elephants. Perched on their backs, it can only be…
Shape, then, is the wrong word. This has every appearance of being a place; more geography than geometry.
And this is a place steeped with magic. The sort of place the word “steeped” was made for. A place left to soak in an octarine infusion, like a tea bag left in a cup so long it…
This metaphor is getting away from me.
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is quintessential gateway fantasy. It is a place of wonder, a place of life, of humour, sharp satire, beguiling stories, larger than life characters and a whole lot of magic. Both in the world, and the way it is described.
And yet, while there are multiple volumes about the Science of Discworld, if there is such a treatise on the magic of the Disc, I’ve not encountered it.
So, what then can I divine about the Discworld’s magic system? This is my interpretation based on many rereadings of the series, but only recent revisits of Eric and Reaper Man.
Three fundamentals drive all magic in Discworld: Purpose, Personality and Belief.
Magic wants to be used. We see it time and again across the series, from the single spell that Rincewind learned, to the magic of Moving Pictures and the mysterious globes in Reaper Man. Magic once manifested, needs to fulfil its purpose.
It is something that the Wizards and Witches appreciate. The more senior the Witch or Wizard, the more power they have access to, the less likely they are to use it. You don’t claw your way up the hierarchy of the Unseen University without learning a healthy sense of self preservation, and an appreciation that wotting things man was not meant to wot of, is just not the done thing. Much better to have a big dinner and then a long nap instead.
Which is not to say that Witches and Wizards are fakers incapable of magic. There are plenty of examples in the books where both engage in activities which can only be described as magical. But there is always a risk in the act, the chance that the Wizard or Witch might get carried away. Sometimes literally. The Dungeon Dimensions and the terrible horrors which live therein are always waiting to take advantage of the unwary. We see several times in the series what happens when magic is unleashed too freely. Calamity and Chaos are never far away.
With purpose, oftentimes, personality follows.
Death is the prime example of this. He is an embodiment of the most fundamental aspect of life, he has purpose to which he must attend, but more he has, he is, a personality. One of Sir Terry’s greatest creations, in fact, and one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. Which is weird when you think about it. He’s not the only example, though. The Hogfather, the Tooth Fairy all fill similar roles. And it’s not just the anthropomorphic aspects of reality that end up with personality. Almost anything infused with magic develops personality eventually, like Rincewind’s Luggage.
The final pillar of magic in Discworld is belief. Most obvious in the case of the Disc’s pantheon of gods, large and small, sometimes all that is needed to manifest something magical is enough belief. Pratchett lays it out specifically: the existence of gods does not result in belief in them, belief in gods results in their existence. Again though, the use of belief in magic is not limited to the gods. If you come in the door marked wossnames, that means you get treated as a wossname, right?
At the end of the day, Discworld is not the sort of series to have a regimented magic system. Instead, it’s a tool that Pratchett uses to fill a need in the story, a useful tool that can fit many shapes. Still, if the specifics of magic are malleable, I think it’s clear that the principles that underpin it are consistent.
About the author:
Rob Edwards is a British born writer and content creator, living in Finland. His podcast, StorycastRob, features readings from his short stories and extracts from longer work. He writes about coffee, despite not drinking it, spaceships, despite being down-to-earth, and superheroes, despite everything.
His debut novel, The Ascension Machine was published in 2020. His short stories can be found in anthologies from Inklings Press and Rivenstone Press.
A life-long gamer and self-professed geek, he is proud of his entry on wookieepedia, the result of writing several Star Wars RPG scenarios in his youth.
During this weeklong discussion on magic in fantasy, we’ll be talking about the truly fantastical magic system. But there are also magic systems that I like to think of as “reality-adjacent”, ones that have a basis in the scientific. After all, things that seem completely normal to us now would seem completely inexplicable and magical to people from, say, the 1400s.
The magic in The Wolf in the Blood fantasy series by author David McLean falls into the second category. I’m happy to be able to get a close look at how “realistic” magic operates in his books.
Teaching physics to barbarians – magic in a really real world
How real is your magical world? If it’s wholly fantastic, great! Magic can just exist. It’s not necessary to look behind the curtain. It can just be so, and you can write about how it’s used, not why it works.
But if your world intersects with the modern, real* world, I think you have to keep it real.
I write ultra-naturalistic fantasy – a world recognisably our own, working in the same way, but with magic and monsters. This is not a novel idea. But for magic and monsters to exist in a really real world and not be rendered hopelessly implausible by physics, you have to think through how the universe works on a fundamental level. This is great fun.
I’m not a physicist, and I didn’t fancy writing a textbook on if-magic-was-real physics. So I came up with some basic rules to apply in my books.
It’s consistent with general relativity. For it to be otherwise is universe-breaking. In my world, magic appears to be a fundamental interaction, like electromagnetism. It’s the force which changes other forces. If this sounds unlikely, bear in mind scientists discovered a new fundamental force just this year (probably). Magic has time translation symmetry (it always works the same way) obeys conservation of energy (you can’t create it or destroy it, only transform it) and is subject to entropy (actions have irreversible consequences). It affects thermodynamics (fireballs), evolutionary biology (dragons), gravity (massive flying dragons) and spacetime (wormholes and time travel).
Everyone knows. You can’t casually slide fantasy into the gaps of the real world like a dudebro into your DM’s and expect no one will notice. How do you hide how the universe works? Humans understand physics at a deep level which far surpasses the ‘mystic scrolls of wisdom tropes of fantasy (I am not putting down mystic scrolls – you do you, scrolls). Even in a hellish dystopia where magicians are routinely wiping minds on a planetary scale, all it takes to know is looking and everyone can. The logical contortions are too great to sustain that narrative in a really real world. I do feel that if magic was real, Richard Feynman would have written an amusing book on the subject. So no need for secret wizard school, Harry.
It’s weird and unsettling. The universe is strange, man. However strange your magic system is, quantum mechanics has it beat. Science grapples with the deep profundities of existence, including ethical and moral questions about free will and agency as inferred from physical laws. I’ve applied these to my world. So magic is a force, but it may also be sort of sentient and vaguely malevolent, with limited agency and unknowable desires. Using magic is profoundly invasive. It never helps. It only hurts.
It’s accessible (but dangerous). Anyone can use gravity. Jump up and down – you are a puissant gravity user. But defying gravity is hard (song lyrics have misreported this). So it is with magic. In the in-world olden days, magicians of towering supremacy tried to bend it to their unconquerable wills, and sometimes succeeded but often failed. But so could anyone. The consequence of failure is pain – it consumes their energy and scars them with a biting rust. People understand it according to their lights – I set my third novel in 51 BCE. It features a Roman legionary, an Irish druid, and a Sri Lankan princeling. None of them could know about relativity or quantum anything. Consequently, they treat magic as, well, just that. And that’s fine. You don’t need to teach physics to your barbarian, after all. But even modern people will have different views. Magic? It’s all a conspiracy, my dude. It said so on The Magic Channel, it must be true…
About the author:
David McLean is the author of three books – THE WOLF IN THE BLOOD (2018), THE WOLF CURE AND OTHER STORIES (2019), and THE NINE WIVES OF RANDAL RHIN (2020), published by Swordsaint Press in the UK. You can buy them on Amazon and read free chapters and stories on his website. His next book, FOX SILVER, will be out in early 2022. Follow @SwordsaintPress on Twitter.