Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Opposing Schools of Fantasy Magic

Like many mages today, I grew up reading science fiction, fantasy, and taking part in role-playing games. Whilst the latter did not lead to devil worship, it also did not lead to an interest in real world magic. That came from the comic “Mendy and the Golem” as well as stories of wonder-working Hassidic rabbis.

Anyway, the first book that I learned to read English from at a relatively young age was the “Elfstones of Shannara” by Terry Brooks. Shortly after that I read the other books by Terry Brooks in the Shannara series and then moved on to the Dragonlance (Dungeons & Dragons) books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – as well as a whole host of other less-well written fantasy novels.

The main difference that struck me between the Shannara books and D&D books was the way that magic worked. In the D&D novels and role-playing books – once a spell was learned it could be cast each time with pretty much the same results**. In the world of Shannara on the other hand the magic could be called upon but it seemed to very much have a will of its own.

Since I read the Shannara books first, they left a lasting impression on me. I still see magic as something that is not easily repeatable in the way that D&D presents and it certainly has a life of its own. Perhaps it’s more about how I connect with the Divine flow/sheaf, but once the flood gate opens, it’s anyone’s guess how it’s going to play out.

So which school of fantasy magic was most influential in your youth? And does it impact the way that you view magic today?

** - excluding for the moment planar effects, anti-magic shells, counter-spells, etc. etc.