I’ve recently started to ask a Bookworm Question of the Day on my Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes these questions die as soon as I ask them, and other times I get tons of interaction and lots of great discussion. Today was one of those days where lots of people participated. Due to the level of participation and all the, “This is great!” comments I got, I decided to turn it into a blog post. That way, people can continue to suggest and discuss and I don’t have to keep track of my Twitter feed and a two-year-old at the same time (very hard to do).
Feel free to pipe in with any comments. I’d love to keep this going, as it’s making my To Be Read (TBR) list EXPLODE.
What book has a unique magic system and why? Rule: Do not suggest Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Everyone will suggest those books.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor: Wishes are a currency with denominations.
Libriomancer – Jim C. Hines: The guy can summon objects from a printed book with some restrictions.
Spellwrite – Blake Charlton: A magic system based on written words. Plus, the protagonist has a unique magic disability.
The Long Price Quartet – Daniel Abraham: Living poem demon magic
Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson: Interesting use of colors in a magic system
Promise of Blood – Brian McClellan: Powder mages with great negative effects if overused and elite soldiers who can manipulate gunpowder
The Demon Cycle – Peter V. Brett: Interesting use of magic through symbols
The Barbed Coil – J.V. Jones: Involves magic via patters influencing the world around you
The Dagger and the Coin – Daniel Abraham: Magic is the power of suggestion from tiny spiders in the blood
The Vineart War – Laura Anne Gilman – A magic system based on wine
Psalms of Isaak – Ken Scholes: Uses magick scouts and a bloodletting to create a blood magic
Glamourist Histories series – Mary Robinette Kowal: The glamour based magic system, very three dimensional and lived in.
The Shadow Saga – Jon Sprunk: Magic comes from the shadows
The Black Prism – Brent Weeks: Interesting use of colors in a magic system
Runelords – David Farland: Plays with the idea of people using runes to steal other people’s attributes and adding them up
Coldfire Trilogy – C.S. Friedman
Godslayer Chronicles – James Clemens: A world completely shaped and run by the body fluid of gods that came four millennia ago. A very unique take on how a world would be if an immortal god lived with humans.
Inda – Sherwood Smith: Nobody poops because that’s what magic is for. Unique in its mundaneness.
On Stranger Tides – Tim Powers: Very unique take on voodoo
Shadows of the Apt – Adrian Tchaikovsky: Interesting world and ecology. Some can speak mind-to-mind, and there’s the aspect of aptitude, where some races can use technology and others can’t.
Cosa Nostradamus – Laura Anne Gilman: Magic based on electricity
The Disillusionists Trilogy – Carolyn Crane: Magic based on individuals with phobias, addictions, etc using their various issues to influence the behaviors of others
Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling: Because of the cleverness that Rowling used in naming. The names usually come from Latin.
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss: The way to use the magic system is through using the true name of objects
Rough Magic – Kenny Soward: Everyone has a wellspring of power which can be developed and tapped in various ways. For example, Raulnock the wizard is very astute and studies spells and hand formations, while Nikselpik is a bit of a “rockstar” and generally relies on his natural ability and “drugs” to achieve the desired results.
The Magister Trilogy – C.S. Friedman: Magic is powered by using the lifeforce of others
Winds of the Forelands – David B. Coe: Using magic makes your life shorter
On the flip side, I asked what makes magic systems less than unique. I got far fewer answers for this question, but here are the few I did get:
Magic without consequences
When you can concoct d20 rules for a magic system in fifteen minutes.
“If I can figure out how to play it as I read, I’m already bored.”
Magic that causes something to happen based on effort of will
Magic based on waving your hands in the air and muttering phrases
Have more suggestions? Comments? Concerns? Please keep the discussion going.