As a longtime fantasy fan, gamer and general explorer of hidden history and strange ideas, magical systems are near and dear to my heart. I love the imagination that authors put into constructing a “logical” system for something that is by its nature somewhat illogical. A great magic system can make a fantasy novel (or game) really memorable. Apparently, Republic of Thieves author Scott Lynch shares my enthusiasms. Check out his post “Sorcery That Stands Out” at Amazon’s Kindle blog. The works of Katherine Kurtz, Jack Vance and Patricia McKillips, among others, are singled out for praise.
Magic is thickly woven into the tapestry of fantasy, but among all the chants and grimoires and flashing hand gestures, only a select few “systems” of fictional sorcery really stand out to me for their vividness, their creativity, and their intrinsic fun. Here’s a quick glimpse at a few of my favorites.