Magic: It’s Not Just for Wands, Anymore!

As my last couple of posts this month have indicated, I am struggling to get back into working on my book and out of “vacation mode.”  As per my own suggestions, I have begun working on the book again, first by rereading some of my old chapters and then by beginning to figure out what comes next.  It’s traumatizing, as expected.

One thing that I got to thinking about as I reread the latest chapters was how magic is used in stories.  Authors can be so creative with how they incorporate the “unexplained” into a fantasy novel, and I really appreciate when an author takes the time to actually invest in a magic system and make it come to life for the reader.

glowing lights crystals

Some glowy light rock things that could totally be magical… or electrically lit (but I won’t tell).

Okay, I’m going to say it and you can love or hate me as you please: I don’t like Harry Potter.  To be fair, I haven’t read any of the books, which could easily change my mind.  However, I’ve seen all but the last movie and felt absolutely no attachment to a single character whatsoever.  They could all have died and it would have earned a shrug from me.  I know.  I’m heartless.  As an added negative (at least for me), the use of magic wands is just so… so… mundane.  And kind of cheesy.

Yes, I know it suits the world that Rowling creates and I suppose it’s alright there.  But I really like creative magic.  The magic system that I developed for my book is by no means creative, but the more I build it, the more fun I have with it.  Suffice to say that the magical creatures in my stories channel their inner magic through differently designed tattoos.  I have been working on developing more of the details of how this system works, but I’ve really enjoyed incorporating it into my world.

traffic lights photography

A magical picture that I took while driving on a dark night with a slow shutter speed.

For some books, magic is in spoken words and for others, it is encased in objects.  Some include a mixture of forms and functions.  Sometimes magic is divided by inherent good and evil, but for others, it is the wielder who makes the magic good or bad.  Sometimes magic isn’t even truly “magic”, but we have no better word for the strange and wonderful elements built into the fantasy world we are enjoying.

samhain edinburgh

The pageantry on Samhain in Edinburgh has a strong sense of myth and magic.

There is the profoundly spiritual “deep magic” of Narnia and the strange, unidentifiable whatsit magic of the many manifestations of Merlin.  We all know that Tolkien’s world has subtle and dramatic forms of magic all woven into the mythology of his world.  Once again, we cannot hope to aspire to such lofty heights.  But I think that there are plenty of examples of books that do a more than adequate job.

Well done magic can make fantasy both more fantastic and more real because if it’s done extraordinarily well, mere fantasy becomes fantastic; but if it’s done extraordinarily well, it also becomes more real.

So what I was curious about is that systems of magic have you read in a book that really inspired or impressed you?  What have you felt to be extremely creative and well done?

light water fountain spain

*Also, just in case you missed the memo, Friday is the 1st of February and that means our winter e-zine will be here!  Make sure you download a copy and enjoy a few quality short stories!*


About Melissa

generally in love with things Celtic, mythological, fantastic, sharp and pointy, cute and fuzzy, intellectual, snarky, cheerful, or some combination thereof. Such things as sarcastic bunnies wielding claymores might come to mind...

Posted on January 30, 2013, in Books, C. S. Lewis, Fantasy, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Melissa Rogers, Photography, World Creation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. When I was young, I was struck by how Tamora Pierce used magic in her books. Magic was something that was there in the world – some could see and use it, others could not. It was a once spiritual and secular and she used it to the advantage and disadvantage of her characters as the learned to use it or learned to live with out it.

  2. Melissa, you would appreciate a Harry Potter spoof I once saw, the highlight of which was when Harry Snotter flicked his wand at the Evil Mouldy-Fork and shouted, “Fake-us Latin-us!”

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