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Most Inventive Magic Systems

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Philip Overby, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    Seems like most of the books I've read are either low magic or standard magic (inspired by Dungeons and Dragons of LotR). Magic is oftentimes a big factor in fantasy stories, but sometimes I just want something unique and different. From what I've read of Brandon Sanderson, he has very unique magic systems (colors, alloys, stuff like that). I'm interested to hear about other interesting systems of magic, even your own concepts. I recently was writing a story about magic as art, where painters were actually magic-users. But since then I've scrapped it for the time being. I may use it again in the future?

    Anyway, thoughts about books with unique forms of magic?
  2. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    Sanderson's mineral/alloy based system is by far the most inventive I've come across but then again I don't read much in the way of books with highly detailed magic systems. [I guess you could call it a preference... at least when the system overshadows the plot, but I'm sure I can be swayed]

    I'm also interested in what others have to say though, as I don't really know if I have much to contribute right now heh
  3. Dante Sawyer

    Dante Sawyer Troubadour

    I agree. The whole idea about ingesting metals and each specifc metal gives you a specific ability is so original. Still, when you think about it, it seems obvious. It seems like something that would've be written about before, but whatever. Props to Sanderson. He is truly a master of the craft.
  4. Those of you who know the system from Mistborn, you really need to read Sanderson's new book The Way of Kings - the magical system in this new series is more complex (if possible) than in Mistborn. Let's just say that there is an issues with gravity or lack thereof and altogether reading battle scenes will never be the same. Imagine someone standing on a ceiling or wall or neither while you are the floor, both with swords...oh and this ability can be transposed to objects as well.
  5. Author-Vic

    Author-Vic Dreamer

    I don't know if you are familiar with The Spell Song Cycle by L. E. Modesitt Jr or not but I rather thought that he had invented something interesting if not unique. Also his Recluse series is quite interesting.
  6. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Wheel of Time 'Power' stuff, Earthsea magic, and the 'Charter Magic' from Sabriel n' series are the most inventive ones I can think of off the top of my head. Should be said that I haven't actually read any of the Earthsea stuff yet...

    Always loved Jordan's system, he managed to get the word 'magic' out of there in a fairly plausible way. As far as Earthsea goes, simply the 'you can't lie in this language, thus speaking something that isn't true makes it true' is pretty neat. And Charter Magic is awesome because it is a form of order imposed upon the world.
  7. Aegle

    Aegle Minstrel

    I'm not saying Goodkind's interpretation of magic is unique, but I ADORE the magic basis being linked to ones mind overall. An accumulative force derived from emotion. That's how I view magic realistically.
  8. mythique890

    mythique890 Sage

    I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of what I guess you could call 'humble magic,' or the magic you can entwine into the things people do every day, like cooking, sewing, woodworking, singing, etc. I know this idea isn't original, but I haven't read anything that has used it in a while. I like to make things and I like to sing, so I'm enamored with the idea of being able to 'sing' magic into something as it is created.

    Sanderson's systems are definitely unique. I love his stories.
  9. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    Robin Hobb's magic systems. The Liveships are totally awesome for a start, but I also like Wit and the Skill in the Farseer books and the way that, in the Soldier Son trilogy, magic is stored as fat in the body of a magic user. Robin Hobb is an incredible writer as it is and I really should get hold of the books she wrote under her other pen name.
  10. Klee Shay

    Klee Shay Troubadour

    I thought Elizabeth Haydon's use of music as magic was rather well done. It's been done before but something about hers stood out to me.

    I also like Anne Bishop's jewel ranking system.

    Oh, and Jim Butcher's furies as well.
  11. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    I also love music-as-magic. One of my favorite instances is in the Silmarillion, with Morgoth and Finrod singing songs of power at each other.
    Mythos likes this.
  12. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    Let's not forget Eydrth in AC Crispin/Andre Norton's Songsmith. :)The whole Witchworld series for that matter, had a pretty cool magic system.
  13. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

    I'm not sure how in-depth it is because I'm only half way through the book, but Sanderson's AonDor magic seems pretty intriguing.
  14. The Grey Sage

    The Grey Sage Troubadour

    I don't have magic I have different systems of power: Alchemy, Cri, Stepping, Techniques, Summoning and so on... It allows for a lot of different battles and interesting characters. I find originality is the best route.
  15. panda.havoc

    panda.havoc New Member

    I was on a hunt for the exact topic of this thread. Glad I found it. Dunno if this would be considered a dead thread or not, but figured I'd contribute something in return for the suggestions I picked up here.

    Right now I'm reading The Black Prism by Brent Weeks, which features a form of magic called "chromaturgy", a form of light magic with some interesting side effects. Before that, the Seventh Tower by Garth Nix (6 part kid's series, decided to finish what I started over a decade ago) which also had light magic of a different sort.

    The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett had a variant of rune magic that still felt fresh. Another series (by now a personal favorite and old standby) with an excellent story and rune magic, the Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

    Spellwright by Blake Charlton has a system that was ridiculously amusing to read, and devastating for its dyslexic protagonist. The Prentice Alvin series by Orson Scott Card is alternate history infused with magic.

    Necroscope by Brian Lumley, as well as the Vampire World spin-off (the better series in my opinion). He's an English author with an obsession for dead things and talking to them. While you're at it, check out the Psychomech series too.

    A Secret Atlas by Michael Stackpole has people becoming "jaedun" (agelessness and magical abilities) after attaining a certain level of ability in their craft or vocation.

    The Xanth books by Piers Anthony, where I gained my love for puns (the endless everlasting flow of puns). The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud has the sarcastic titular djinn and is full of his wry footnotes to history.

    And finally (since I ran out of series I still have lying around in view) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin probably qualifies as well, though in this case the magic is not in use by the protagonist, but by the gods imprisoned in human form and turned into servants.

    Edit: Forgot A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

    I hope this helps someone, somewhere, find something new to love.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
  16. ScipioSmith

    ScipioSmith Sage

    The Art of the Insect Kinden in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt.
  17. ThanatosKitsune

    ThanatosKitsune New Member

    Try the Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce. Designed more for a young adult audience, but they're well written and has an ambient magic system very similar to what you described. As far music based, Alan dean Foster's Spellsinger books should be given a shot. As far as my personal favorites, I rather enjoy Sanderson's inventiveness in general. Warbreaker's Breath system was very fresh. Allomancy and Feruchemy were awesome in the original trilogy, but I also loved the fact that he grew the system as the society progressed with Alloy of Law. Chromaturgy in Brent Weeks' Lightbringer series is a fairly simple system with amazing and awful ramifications.
  18. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    R Scott Bakker had an interesting magic system in his two series The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect Emperor. It involves using songs as magic but it gets a little more complicated. Its been a while since I read the series but from what I recall the practitioners were able to sing one or two songs at once which created different results. One practitioner was able to sing up to three songs at once, creating even more amazing results. I should reread this series :)
  19. Mike Rapino

    Mike Rapino Dreamer

    I like magic in the Dresden universe where magic must live within the laws of physics in our reality.

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