What is your favorite portrayal of magic in fiction?

I’m curious to what is your favorite system of magic in literature, movies or television etc.

My favorite has to be the system used in Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series. I love how there are different disciplines each with their own strengths and weaknesses. I especially like how each style of magic works in this universe.

That’s mine, what’s yours?

Unfortunately, I haven’t read very many books, so I’ll have to comment based off movies that I’ve seen. The only movie I can think of that I’ve seen is Harry Potter where magic was involved. -.-

I generally dont like magic in rpgs. But there are some i enjoy:

First Sith powers jedi are meh but when i saw Vader use force first time when 5 years i love dark side and Alec Guiness the real Obi Wan .

Spock in star Trek yes he is a magician with mental powers my favourite.

Terry Pratchett Hillarius best magical system ever.

Harry Potter universe and Howards. Rowling universe is rich and coherence. Harry himself is terrible and stupid.

That’s all i use illusion and some bond dagger and sould trap in Elder Scroll games. That’s all, im a rogue bard in soul lol. Mages ara meh

Zatanna Zatara.

esuaC sdrawkcab cigam si !smosewa

Sympathy and Naming, Kingkiller Chronicle.
The former requires intense periods of training, mental discipline, material components and is limited by the laws of physics and its own set of unbreakable limitations; very scientific, very constrained, but very reliable.
The latter lets you do things like call down thunderstorms and crush stone with your mind… if you’re lucky enough to catch the Name of the Wind/Stone/Iron/Whatever you’re working in.
It makes for a rather nice dichotomy.

I generally like the kind of magic that doesn’t just give the wielder infinite power to do anything, I like when the magic has clear limits and weak points in a way that someone who can’t use magic has the potential to overpower the magic user. Some examples I can think of are the Eragon series and Brent Week’s Lightbringer series.

I like Terry Pratchett’s witches and their magic. I like the Tiffany Aching books in particular and the type of witch that she is. I like how a lot of their magic is mundane based, but that they do also have power.

I don’t like his wizards very much though.

For roleplaying, I like the magic in Mage the Ascension the best. I loved the freedom, the paradigms you had in which it was through your own beliefs and view of the world you could change things.

I liked in Robert Asprin’s Myth books, how the main character just had a couple of extremely simple spells, and a whole lot of bluff. That he was eventually considered a powerful wizard, even though he would have been a beginner in any other world. I think he had one illusion spell, he could levitate items, and he could light a fire.

I think I like magic users who don’t always use their magic, apart from when they need to. Ones who aren’t the almighty, all powerful chosen one.

It’s got to be - hands down - The Ascendants of Estorea books by James Barclay:

It’s not so much how magic is portrayed, although that is cool in itself.
No the interesting bit is that the books are actually about the arrival of magic in an otherwise “realistic” (loose term) world, and how then the world and its occupants react to this new power.

The best bit is that the first users are children, so it becomes this huge mess of moral dilemmas.
Magic is a tool, but how are they going to use it? They’re just kids, they didn’t ask for this. But what will they be capable of in ten years time? Should we try and guide them, or kill them before it gets out of hand?

If you haven’t read them and enjoy a good fantasy epic, I can’t recommend them enough!

Lord. Of. The. Rings.

My favourite thing about the magic in those books is that it’s subtle- you don’t see Gandalf casting 10 spells every chapter- he doesn’t cast that many, but magic is definitely in Tolkien’s universe- such as in Lothlorien, or (a more dark magic here) Mordor.

i like the magic system in eragon if you waste too much you die same can be said for the nicolas flamel series

I love how it works in the Dresden universe.

But I think my favorite system of magic is from Mistborn. I suppose it’s not technically ‘magic’ like some of the others here, but it has such a logical and balanced approach to it. It’s really refreshing compared to something like Harry Potter, which sort of creates rules and then ignores them, and doesn’t always have logic to it (though I still love HP, don’t get me wrong.)

Roger Why - The Glimmer Trilogy (‘A Glimmer in the Dark’ is free to download on ios / amazon, the others are cheap).

The idea is two parallel universes collide: Our Earth and a fantasy world. The two evil characters, one from each world, switch places, unleashing magic on our world and technology in the fantasy world. They are long reads, but fantastic, even if I am biased (they were written by my dad).

itunes link:


the magic in Ascendants is also great but I think James Barclay does good magic in the raven series too. :slight_smile:

My current favorite system is the andat in Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet – I’ve written about that in the Magic v Tech thread, so won’t belabor it here.

Brandon Sanderson’s consistently very good, not just in Mistborn but Elantris and Warbringer (the other two I’ve read so far).

China Mieville’s Kraken (set in contemporary London) has some very nifty competing magic systems based (in different ways) on ink. Fabulous book, too.

You asked about magic systems, but my first love is non-systemic magic: unpredictable, weird, and profound. Like the kind eventually attained by Schmendrick the Magician in the Last Unicorn, or the two old wizards in John Bellairs’ The Face in the Frost. Pulled off well, it doesn’t feel arbitrary or a deus ex machina.

And I’m also a great fan of the Myth-adventures.

I second Cataphrak with the Kingkiller Chronicle. My favorite magic portrayal to date.

I really like the magic from “Prince of Nothing”. There are two main magic arts: the Gnostic and the Anagogic, and a third one called Psukhe (each based on Knowledge, Interpretation and Soul, in this order).

Gnostic magic lets the user revive the School’s founder experiences during the Apocalipse, and they can call energies through Maths.
Anagogic magic lets the user call energies through their interpretation (e.g. creating the image of a dragon to make a fireball).
Psukhe magic is the magic of emotions.

Brent Weeks
Lightbringer series
Drafting magic is awsome

I like all kinds of magic systems as long as they’re consistent. I enjoy playing in a world where characters can go around creating tsunamis and making fiery explosions with a single touch (would love to play a game that allowed me to do that :P) but I also very much enjoy the more subdued magic system that takes a lot of training and needs preparation and seals just to do something like say cast a thunder. I don’t even mind combinations of the two. As long as its well written, fits in with the story and is fun, then its a fascinating magic system to me.

I like Shadowrun’s magic system. It’s brought forward as this quasi-understood, still in development soon after magic returned, but heavily influenced by the mind and how people perceive things, and yet still has its own unbreakable rules, sorta thing.

the Eragon series magic where the spells you cast drain the energy from your body and you must know the correct pronunciation in the ancient language. if you don’t pronounce it right you could end up setting your self on fire instead of your enemy. also the laws of physics can only be bent not broken.