Join me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland,‘ we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.
| Magic Systems |
A system. For Magic. Don’t pretend y’all were not waiting for this one.
I love a well thought out magic system and for this week’s Tough Travelling I found myself repeatedly going to the one author whose magic systems consistently blow me away. And so, after very little deliberation, I have traversed the Cosmere to bring you:
| The Magic Systems of Brandon Sanderson |
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Allomany, Feruchemy & Hemalurgy
Mistborn will undoubtedly appear in most lists of unique magic systems and in this trilogy we have not just one but three! Allomancy involves the ingestion of metals which can be ‘burned’ to give the Allomancer specific abilities, each metal producing a different effect. Most Allomancers can only burn one metal and are known as Mistings; those who can burn every metal are known as Mistborn – a rare ability. Feruchemy involves storing magic within a metal object, known as ‘metalminds’ – much like charging a battery. The larger the piece of metal, the more magical energy can be stored and drawn on later. As with Allomancy different metals produce different effects. Hemalurgy is the darkest power of all and involves the transfer, or rather theft, of magic by driving a metal spike through the body. Grim.
| 2 |
The Stormlight Archive
The Stormlight Archive is an amazing series of books and brings us yet another unique magic system – Surgebinding. Surgebinders can manipulate two powers out of a possible ten to produce a range of differing abilities. These abilities include transforming one object into another, transporting oneself instantaneously and the manipulation of gravitational forces. Surgebinding is fuelled by Stormlight which can be drawn in by the Surgebinder from any object infused with it. Stormlight also increases the capabilities of the human body by giving superhuman strength, speed and healing abilities. However, when the Stormlight is consumed the Surgerbinder is left weak and exhausted.
| 3 |
The Emperor’s Soul
The Emperor’s Soul may be a novella but it too has a unique magic system to rival many others. Forging, undertaken by a Forger, involves carving an object or ‘stamp’ into a specific form, applying ink and then stamping it onto a person or object to create a magical effect. This is known as a Soulstamp. The design of the Soulstamp will affect the appearance of the stamped object. When something is stamped, the forger is essentially altering the object’s history; in order for the stamp to remain in place the new history must share similarities with the original, too different and the Soulstamp won’t work. Got it? It might just be easier to read this short and brilliant book!
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AonDor is a form of glyph magic. These glyphs are known as Aons and draw their power from the Dor, a source of spiritual energy. Aons represent whole words and different combinations and equations of glyphs produce different powers and abilities. These Aons can be drawn in the air or formed out of stone or metal; what is essential is that they are drawn right to avoid the power dispelling… or any unfortunate accidents. Wielders of power can use these Aons to heal, to build, to strengthen, to fight and most impressively, to create.
Breathing has never been so important! Ahem… The magic system of Warbreaker is reliant on the number of Biochromatic Breaths a person has stored. Breaths can be thought of as souls which can be taken from others to increase one’s own power. Once Breathless you are known as a Drab, someone whose world has become a little greyer, who finds it difficult to perceive colour and is less attuned to others. The more Breaths you have the more powerful you become resulting in varying degrees of ability, such as Awakening inanimate objects, immunity from toxins and physical ailments, and Reanimating corpses. What fun!
What are your favourite magic systems in fantasy fiction? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!
9 thoughts on “Tough Travelling: Magic Systems”
I don’t know how he comes up with these magic systems, but they are all so different and interesting! It’s one of the reasons why I’m obsessed with anything he writes. Additionally, I love the method of summoning in his book The Rithmatist, chalk drawings coming to life ❤ My other favourite came from the series The Wheel of Time, which involved the use of the True Source that can be tapped by a society of women called the Aes Sedai. The magic in the series was continually built on as the story progresses and it was very complicated, and interesting as well 🙂
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Definitely The Wheel of Time! If I had used other authors work (though I suppose I could have sneakily popped it into Brandon Sanderson) I would have definitely chosen that! I’m only five novels so I’m looking forward to see how it develops! And yes! I can only call it obsession, he just creates such extraordinarily exciting worlds. I haven’t actually read the Rithmatist yet… oh well! More to look forward to! 😀
I sadly haven’t read anything by Brandon Sanderson, but wow. I am seriously impressed with how many interesting magic systems they’ve created!
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He really is a fantastic writer, I would recommend anything he has written in a heartbeat!
The only Sanderson book on this list I’ve read is Elantris, and I loved the the magic system! I thought it was great that he included an index of a bunch of Aons in the back on the book. A lot of times when an Aon appeared or was cast as a spell, I would go the back of the book and trace it out it in the air in front of me XD
Looks like I have a to look forward to when I start Mistborn, too. 🙂
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I hope it started to glow! Otherwise that’s a shoddy Aon 😛 I always love having an appendix detailing the world at the back! Perhaps it’s because he puts so much detail into making it right that it works so well!
Sanderson was surely the choice for everyone this week. I know I had his Mistborn series – and I think I added WoK, I also considered Emperor of Souls – I loved that book.
Nice going for a theme.
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I’m not surprised! I figured I was putting far too many of his in the list anyway so why not make it a theme!