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Fantasy: To Magic Or Not To Magic

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What degree of magic do you prefer in fantasy stories?

Example: Terry Goodkind, David Eddings and Teryy Pratchett all have a lot of magic in their books abd have magic as an important part of the plot.

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It depends for me on how the magic is used.

In Mr. Eddings' books alot of the magic is based around varioous god-like beings manipulating people's fates (although Sparhawk is still one of my favourite characters) so I'm not as keen on the use of it in that regard.

In Mr. Goodkind's books, however, the magic is an intrinsic part of the world and is used as an analogy of technology today. As TG says in an interview,"The important point that some people are completely missing is that magic in my books is made up for a reason. It's created to help illustrate important human themes."

And also in answer to a question from a fan (Trenton, NJ): Do you have a fascination with magic outside of your books? Magic shows, or spells and witchcraft and the like?

TG: No, and I think that you may be missing a little bit of the point. The point of my writing is how these characters relate to us in terms of their desires, ambitions, and what really matters in their lives, what their fears are, what their hopes are. Magic is one of the elements that they have to deal with much in the way we have to deal with technology. For example, if you have to be somewhere and your car won't start, it's much the same way emotionally as if they have to be somewhere and the magic won't work. The consequences of not being at the place they need to be, is the shared human emotion that I'm dealing with, not the technicalities of why your fuel injection system isn't working this morning. Magic is a new way of looking at emotions that are common to all of us."

I think that Mr Pratchett uses magic in a very similar, though far more humourour manner :lol:

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It depends for me on how the magic is used.

In Mr. Eddings' books alot of the magic is based around varioous god-like beings manipulating people's fates (although Sparhawk is still one of my favourite characters) so I'm not as keen on the use of it in that regard.

In Mr. Goodkind's books, however, the magic is an intrinsic part of the world and is used as an analogy of technology today. As TG says in an interview,"The important point that some people are completely missing is that magic in my books is made up for a reason. It's created to help illustrate important human themes."

And also in answer to a question from a fan (Trenton, NJ): Do you have a fascination with magic outside of your books? Magic shows, or spells and witchcraft and the like?

TG: No, and I think that you may be missing a little bit of the point. The point of my writing is how these characters relate to us in terms of their desires, ambitions, and what really matters in their lives, what their fears are, what their hopes are. Magic is one of the elements that they have to deal with much in the way we have to deal with technology. For example, if you have to be somewhere and your car won't start, it's much the same way emotionally as if they have to be somewhere and the magic won't work. The consequences of not being at the place they need to be, is the shared human emotion that I'm dealing with, not the technicalities of why your fuel injection system isn't working this morning. Magic is a new way of looking at emotions that are common to all of us."

I think that Mr Pratchett uses magic in a very similar, though far more humourour manner :lol:

Yes, Pratchett's magic is an attempt to make fun of technology, at least in the latter books, not so much so in earlier books, which were an attempt to make fun of the fantasy genre.

I also think you misunderstood the Sparhawk thing if you think his destiny was controlled. The Styric gods callled him Anakha, meaning "man without destiny" or something like that. It also meant that his destiny could not be read or controlled. And also in the Eddings books it is usually the characters potential destiny that is manipulated. Also the Elders Gods series doesn't really have much if anything in the way of destiny.

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What degree of magic do you prefer in fantasy stories?

Example: Terry Goodkind, David Eddings and Teryy Pratchett all have a lot of magic in their books abd have magic as an important part of the plot.

I am generally pretty openminded when it comes to this. I do not worry as much about how much magic is portrayed by the author, but how the author portrays magic.

Goodkind uses his magic to make various points, such as the analogy with technology already mentioned in this thread, and it is similar for Pratchett, as has been mentioned. Pratchett tends to use magic as an aid to make comments on a wider range of things throughout the long Discworld series. And a large part of it is a humourous poke at fantasy magic.

How much magic an author is best off using is in my opinion largely dependent of their purpose for using magic as a part of their writing. As long as it is not too little or too much for the purpose, and portrayed in a reasonably sensible way, then I generally do not have a problem with even 'high-magic'.

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I haven't read much fantasy outside Eddings. I've tried to get into others, but Eddings focuses on things I think are cool. I love the way he writes from experiences in real life that I love, despite using a lot of magic.

The thing that grabbed me was the very first chapter of the Elenium with Sparhawk returning to his home city in the rain, muscles aching and deserving a long night's rest. I loved the stoicism of a weary character returning from exile and the hidden spark of excitement. There is an adventure waiting for him on the other side of a good night's sleep. He rides with honor and armed with a lifetime of a highly refined skill, the most important one of all in dark times, professional killing. His warhorse trots brashly through the shadows of a city, glistening dark and wet, which has been awaiting his return for years.

Also, the gods can walk among men and some even prefer the form. I honestly think I could read that book over and over again.

The inlay of magic to this kind of background, as an accquired skill of incantation, was highly appealing. I have no idea what level it is exactly.

Edited by unskinned

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I can take it or leave it. If the plot, characters, theme, etc. are good then it doesn't really matter whether the book has a lot of magic in it or not. One thing I'm trying to stay away from in my own writing is Terry Pratchett's "Anthromoporphic personifications", i.e. ideas that have become representative things, whether these be gods or what-have-you, because I want the story to be driven by the characters, not by external forces, which is what these personifications represent.

This is my own personal preference, however, and not a complaint against people who do have personified abstractions in their books. (I enjoyed Piers Anthony's Incarnations books, for instance)

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I am generally pretty openminded when it comes to this. I do not worry as much about how much magic is portrayed by the author, but how the author portrays magic.

Goodkind uses his magic to make various points, such as the analogy with technology already mentioned in this thread, and it is similar for Pratchett, as has been mentioned. Pratchett tends to use magic as an aid to make comments on a wider range of things throughout the long Discworld series. And a large part of it is a humourous poke at fantasy magic.

How much magic an author is best off using is in my opinion largely dependent of their purpose for using magic as a part of their writing. As long as it is not too little or too much for the purpose, and portrayed in a reasonably sensible way, then I generally do not have a problem with even 'high-magic'.

Well in the latter half of the series, particularly the Watch subseries, magic is more commonly used to make fun of technology (the Disorginizers that Sybil keeps getting Vimes for example (the one in Thud! even has an iHUM feature that can store upto 150,000 songs)).

I haven't read much fantasy outside Eddings. I've tried to get into others, but Eddings focuses on things I think are cool. I love the way he writes from experiences in real life that I love, despite using a lot of magic.

The thing that grabbed me was the very first chapter of the Elenium with Sparhawk returning to his home city in the rain, muscles aching and deserving a long night's rest. I loved the stoicism of a weary character returning from exile and the hidden spark of excitement. There is an adventure waiting for him on the other side of a good night's sleep. He rides with honor and armed with a lifetime of a highly refined skill, the most important one of all in dark times, professional killing. His warhorse trots brashly through the shadows of a city, glistening dark and wet, which has been awaiting his return for years.

Also, the gods can walk among men and some even prefer the form. I honestly think I could read that book over and over again.

The inlay of magic to this kind of background, as an accquired skill of incantation, was highly appealing. I have no idea what level it is exactly.

Oh yes that is a good start indeed. I like the way eddings as he puts it: "avoids the 'Superman Syndrome' by putting weaknesses in his characters". With garion (who has the power to defeat a god) he put innocence. Into Belgarath who is apowerful and experienced Sorcerer who can probably turn mountains inside out according to Eddings) he made him a crotchety and reprehensable character. For Sparhawk (who has the combat skill to kill just about anyone) he gave him constant pains throughout the series that sprang from the fact that he was getting old.

I can take it or leave it. If the plot, characters, theme, etc. are good then it doesn't really matter whether the book has a lot of magic in it or not. One thing I'm trying to stay away from in my own writing is Terry Pratchett's "Anthromoporphic personifications", i.e. ideas that have become representative things, whether these be gods or what-have-you, because I want the story to be driven by the characters, not by external forces, which is what these personifications represent.

This is my own personal preference, however, and not a complaint against people who do have personified abstractions in their books. (I enjoyed Piers Anthony's Incarnations books, for instance)

My stories mention outside forces, but they do not drive events (because they can't and because most of don't want to).

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