From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Night Circus

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”.

Find her online at :
Blog: https://wittyandsarcasticbookclub.home.blog/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WS_BOOKCLUB

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

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Kate Daniels series

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.

Tabitha:

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!

Check out my review blog at www.behindthepages.org
You can also follow my random bookish thoughts on my Twitter: @behindthepages1
And if you prefer to follow along with reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5863594-tabitha

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

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Invisible Library

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.

The Book Pyramid:

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…

Reader, Follow Witty and Sacrastic Bookclub’s blog.

… 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

Follow him on Twitter at: @BookPyramid

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

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Weather Warden

This week Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub is being joined by a great group of bookbloggers and authors, discussing magic systems in fantasy books. This is such a huge subject and there are so many books with killer magic systems!

Author Rachel Caine has created some incredibly distinctive magic systems in her books. Tabitha from the excellent blog, Behind the Pages, has offered to talk a little about the magic system in Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series.

Tabitha:

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 Weather Warden Series by Rachel Caine.

Little do people know, there is an organization of magic users taming the wildest of Earth’s natural disasters. The Wardens Association is made up of people who have abilities to manipulate fire, earth, and the weather. But the magic they use has to be executed carefully, or the disasters they try to quell can become phenomenally worse. All those natural disasters that have happened at devastating proportions? Someone made a mistake and manipulated the wrong molecule.

The magic in the Weather Warden series leans more towards a soft magic system. While it’s based on science, manipulating molecules, and meteorology, there are fantastical elements as well. Each warden generally possesses one of the three abilities. Those who possess more than one are rare and often more powerful than the wardens who possess only one. If you possess more than one, chances are you’ll have a target on your back as well. The Wardens Association doesn’t like what it can’t control and views people with too much power the same way it views a devastating storm. They need to destroy them before they can no longer be contained.

As long as you fly below their power radar, the Wardens Association will take you in and educate you on taming the Earth. Unless of course, you can’t even control your singular power. They will magically neuter you if you prove inept. Most likely this will turn you into a babbling incoherent person they then put into a hospital to live out the rest of their lives.

But what happens when the Earth throws a particularly nasty disaster that even the combined power of the wardens can’t handle? Well, that’s where the Djinn come in. Djinn are creatures of fire that are manipulative and spiteful. Though I can’t say I blame them, as most people who encounter a free Djinn try to immediately bind them into servitude. 

The Wardens Association keeps Djinn trapped in bottles to help amplify their own power when needed. The Djinn are little more than slaves to most. Tools to be used then stuffed away, even though they have thoughts, feelings, and emotions just like any other person. And those wardens who show they will play nice with others, rise up in the ranks of the association and earn themselves their own slave to use.

It’s a twisted world and oftentimes the main character, Joanne, battles with what is morally right and wrong. As much as the wardens help people by taming the Earth, they can be pretty corrupt. But it isn’t just the wardens you have to watch out for. Sometimes, natural disasters are caused by demons trying to enter our world.

What is your immediate thought when you think of demons? It’s probably something along the lines of what traditional stories paint them as. Horns, pitchforks, nasty creatures that are some combination of human and animal. In the Weather Warden series, demons are like a parasite. They leech onto wardens, draining their power from the inside out. Sometimes the victim doesn’t even know it until it’s too late. And as the demon leeches a person’s power, it also begins to corrupt their very being. Turning them violent and unpredictable. 

The problem is with demons, they won’t leave a powerful magical host. They sit and squirm, growing until they can no longer be contained by the body they’ve taken over. To say letting a demon fully manifest is a disaster would be putting it mildly. The amount of magic and power released by a demon is catastrophic and just about the world ending.

I love the Weather Warden series. The use of magic is so original and refreshing. The way Joanna can manipulate the molecules around her and change the atmosphere is fantastic. Not to mention the constant twists and turns that are thrown throughout the series as the use of magic by the main character evolves. It is definitely one of my favorite urban fantasy series. And I highly encourage you to give it a try!

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!

Find Behind the Pages on her blog: Behind the Pages

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- 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- The Coldfire Trilogy

When I think of interesting magic systems, the Coldfire trilogy by C.S. Friedman comes to mind. This never ceases to amuse me, since this is one of the few series I’ve read that seems to truly float freely between the fantasy and sci-fi genre (seeing the two genres smushed indiscriminately together as one is a pet peeve of mine), weaving the best from both genres into something alien and fantastical.

Even though it’s been a while since I’ve reread the series, it’s one that stands out to me because of the creativity in the author’s use of magic. Well, that, and the character of Gerald Tarrant, who is both terrifying and fascinating in pretty equal measure.

The magic in the Coldfire trilogy stands out to me because of its origin. It’s an innate force in the world. The story itself takes place on Erna, a planet that was colonized by humans over a thousand years before the events in the book. Erna is covered by a sort of energy known as the Fae. This energy interacts with humans in ways that were unexpected: it gives life to dreams, and form to nightmares. These nightmares aren’t just illusion, though: they can cause pain and even kill.

The Fae sort of works against humanity in the way that humans are affected. However, there are some who can work with the Fae and mold it, so to speak. What I find interesting about magic in this world is that it isn’t necessarily anathema to those of religion, but it gives the characters a way to explore their faith, their morality and, ultimately, their very humanity. The magic- or natural force- in the Coldfire trilogy is what stirs the plot and gives the characters their motivation.

C.S. Friedman obviously put a lot of thought into how her magic works. There are multiple types of Fae, each with its own slight differences. There is Tide Fae, its power ebbing and flowing with the tides. It is mainly used by a race known as the rakh. Then, there’s Earth Fae, which is what is mainly used by sorcerers and adepts. Solar Fae is the third kind of Fae. This is too powerful to really be used, although a group of church adepts used it to create powerful weapons at one point. Finally, there’s the Dark Fae. Used only by the Hunter (which I will not spoil here), it is only matched in power by the Solar Fae. I personally think the Dark Fae is most interesting because of the way it can be used. It’s a bit grim and utterly fascinating. It is basically a reflection of the worst in humanity and it is incredibly powerful.

The Fae in the Coldfire trilogy is really nothing like the fae of mythology other than in the wild, untamed quality it has. I love how everything in the world is affected by it in some way.

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- Magic in the Copper Circle

About the Blogger:

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub: 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”.

Find her online at :
Blog: https://wittyandsarcasticbookclub.home.blog/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WS_BOOKCLUB