Tough Travels – Awesome Displays of Magic


Each Thursday, inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ we have in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week we look at AWESOME DISPLAYS OF MAGIC

Sometimes magic can be subtle. Who wants that? Big explosions or acts of creation, death and destruction or acts of awe inspiring wonder. If your world has magic then why not show it off?

I wrote the tagline and then decided I didn’t care, some of the most awesome displays of magic I can think of were in fact fairly subtle.  Still, sometimes that is the way it goes.

The Warrior Prophet: The Prince of Nothing - Book TwoSareötic LibraryThe Warrior Prophet by R. Scott Bakker- For my money the most vivid imagery to be found in fantastical battles all come from Bakker’s series. Love him or hate him, and sometimes I do both, the man knows how to make a reader see the battle and I could have filled the whole list with various magical acts from the Prince of Nothing trilogy alone.

I picked the scene at the library because I think it is the pinnacle of the series. Achamian, the closest thing the series has to a protagonist, is captured by the Scarlet Spires (wizards from another school of magic) who place him into a Uroborian Cycle that prevents him from using his magic. Right until Achamian breaks it and unleashes the true power of his Gnosis based magic. There is no way to describe it, just read the damn books.

Ah, Achamian. Should be the most powerful around. Too bad the acts that gave him his magic require him to live through the apocalypse in his head every night when he goes to sleep.

Capturing The AndatsLong Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham– Poetry has never been A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1)my preferred reading material. I have a mental block there and just don’t care how beautiful people find it. So reading about a group of magical poets should be boring to me. Abraham had different thoughts.

To be able to grasp a concept so perfectly that a physical manifestation comes about, that is what it takes to be a poet here. Definitions that make Webster look like a fool. Years of research are required and from there a true perfection in the recitation just to get one Andat. The consequences for failure are horrifying to say the least. But to succeed gives power beyond belief. Take the andat Seedless for instance. The ability to instantly remove a seed from any living creature. Economically used to control the cotton trade but you better believe the whole world has grasped the inevitable result if they were to attack the one who holds him.

Perhaps not as spectacular visually, but one of the cooler acts of magic I have ever seen.

The Last Stormlord (Watergivers, #1)A City in the DesertThe Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke and The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer – Yet another example that perhaps a bit more subtle in nature yet the shear brilliance of allowing life where nature doesn’t through pure magical prowess is impressive to me. And I have two separate entries that fit.

The Last Stormlord is a highly underrated book and happens to be the one that kick started this blog. In the middle of the desert life is thriving thanks to the Stormlords who pull water into a magical oasis. This is spectacular magic that has been taken completely for granted for a long time but times are changing. The last Strormlord is dying, and suddenly people are going to realize just how amazing that magic really is.

In The Whitefire Crossing the magic is no less impressive, allowing a city to thrive where it shouldn’t. The city in question is a bit different though. Many mages are allowed to live in a state of near anarchy; the only rule is that they occasionally use their magic to ensure life can continue to thrive by bringing that vital water.

The Weasley’s take on UmbridgeHarry Potter – As is often the case this Potter Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)reference comes from my wife who is currently on book five of yet another reread of her favorite series not written by Janet Evanovich. And she is right, there is something wonderful about Fred and George (edit: had the wrong Weasley) unleashing a whole flurry of non lethal but incredibly spectacular magical fireworks throughout the halls.

We will of course rejoice in this small victory against one of the best villains in the history of literature. Honestly who do you hate more, Umbridge or Voldemort? Every comeuppance she gets after her rise in power is to be welcomed. Assuming, of course, you don’t think those centaurs were REALLY that nasty in their dealing with her.

Join us next week as we look at THE ACE

Some people are just ridiculously good at everything.  Be it magic, swordplay, or all of the above.  THE ACE has no equal.

If you have a topic you want to see us cover, or if you have an entry for next week’s post but don’t have your own blog to put it on, please head over to the main Tough Traveling page and fill out the form at the bottom.

As always thanks for joining, feel free to join along at any time, and please check out my fellow travelers!

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