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The Block

A blog for authors and readers by publishers. By Wordsmack - a South African speculative science fiction publisher. Wordsmack accepts short stories, novellas and novels on a year-long submissions basis.

The top 5 magical systems in traditional fantasy

If you enjoy a clever, original and well thought out magic system in your fantasy read, here is a list of our Top Five. Our super-editor Kim McCarthy listed her favourites. Which are yours?
Brandon Sanderson - Mistborn Trilogy
Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): Allomancy.
Allomancers burn or ingest one of 16 specific metals and then draw powers from these metals. A 'mistborn' is someone who can draw on all 16 metals and is very rare. A 'misting' is someone who can burn one of the 16 metals. This was such a unique and fascinating magical system. I loved the idea that all magic was linked solely to manipulating certain metals.
David Eddings - The Belgariad and the Mallorean
Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): Sorcery, also known as 'The Will and  the Word'.
A sorcerer concentrates his or her strength through willpower, and then releases it with a word. This system is so simple and yet is wholly dependent on the personality and willpower of the individual characters. As a result, all of the characters use it in a slightly different way. This has some very unique and humorous results.
Robert Jordan - The Wheel of Time
Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): The One Power which is composed of male (saidin) and female (saidar) halves.


A fascinating magic system where all male channelers (users of the One Power) are thought to eventually go mad. This poses a problem for the male protagonist who has to deal with being a reincarnated champion of the light and saving the world. It is fascinating in the later books to see how the main character copes with his decline into madness.
David Eddings - The Elenium and The Tamuli
Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist): Spell-casting
The Pandion Knights learn the arts or 'secrets' of spell-casting from Sephrenia, a Styric instructor. Spells are cast using certain words and hand-gestures. They are often cast or 'directed' towards a specific God or Goddess. I love the idea that a God or Goddess is responsible for 'answering' a spell. They don't always 'answer' in the expected manner.

Jim Butcher - The Codex Alera

Main Magic/power system (magic used by protagonist):Fury-crafting
Furies are elemental spirits (earth, water, fire, wind, metal and wood) that are found throughout Alera.
The Aleran people manifest personal furies in their adolescent years and then control these furies with their minds. Furies can be used to increase the personal strength of their wielder, or they can manifest in the shape of an animal or person and do the wielders bidding.

I love the way all the furies are linked back to natural elements. All the furies have strengths and weaknesses depending on their type. 

Now go forth and create your own systems. 
Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-top-5-magic-systems-in-traditional.html