Magic holds a special place in my heart as it should for many others. Despite recent technological advances and the rise of a more sci-fi-esque world, humans can’t seem to ever let magic go. it remains in integral part of our being and culture, whether it is revered as a gift from the gods, or an untapped human ability. Which is probably why humans still incorporate magic into so many aspects of our literature and works of fiction. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, the Mistborn Saga and Sklduggery Pleasant are all amazing examples of magic in literature, but as much as magic is revered, it is feared as well. Humans are inexorably drawn to magic as much as other humans revile it and hold it with superstitious disdain. I was banned from indulging in Harry Potter from a young age, which greatly pained me as my mum made sure to never allow me to watch, or even borrow any Harry Potter material. I always wondered why, and later on I realised that from a religious viewpoint, magic is an anathema. Something held by the darker forces to prey on the holy, the pious and the faithful. But I never cared much for that, because I also realised that humanity will forever categorise whst they cannot understand as magic. But for the majority of humanity who are more secular, magic has been a source of wonder and amazement. But why?
Looking at the greatest works of fiction, you can see two broad elements that make magic great. The ordered, “scientific” application of magic, which involves a system in order to make it work. Most great works of fiction incorporate this in one way or another whether to great effect or not, however it can be plain to see. The rules and regulations placed on magic grounds it, making it understandable, and thus, fascinating. There is lore as much as there is ritual, and this tugs at the curiosity of the reader or viewer. On the far right however, we have the traditional, “purist” form of magic. Unexplainable and mysterious. Capable of almost anything as long as the user has willed it to be, all dependent on their skill or affinity with magic. The latter can be seen in works such as Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf is capable of “magic”. Although it is not specifically stated that he is using magic, and it is generally accepted that he is more of a wise man than a wizard, he is still capable of supernatural feats such as defeating a balrog of Morgoth, or summoning light. Another good example is the Books of the Shaper series, where magic is mysterious and uncategorised. It happens only by virtue of the fact that the wizard, is a wizard, and that this ability is not common. On the other end of the spectrum are books like Harry Potter, the Inheritance Cycle and my personal favourite, and Skulduggery Pleasant. In Harry Potter, almost all magic must be channeled, and very few spells can be cast without a wand. However there are still individuals like Albus Dumbledore and Remus Lupin who can perform magic wordlessly or without a wand due to their skill, age and knowledge of magic. Magic is not tied to stamina, but rather to skillful application, and practice. In Eragon, magic is bound to an old language where words have power. Magic battles are a constant mental showdown, while more mundane tasks can be performed by uttering the old language. However, magic still requires you to exert the same amount of stamina you would by doing said task physically and thus, knowledge of words, wit and also cunning. The careful phrasing of words is careful. Willing someone to explode will most likely kill you, but willing a stone to shoot from your hand and through an opponents skull will most likely take much less power. Furthermore, people can store energy in gems and other objects to have reserves of power.
All these magical concepts are fascinating, and extremely enjoyable to study. Many people dedicate much of their time theorising and studying these fictional systems. However, my favourite system has to be Skulduggery Pleasant’s. As wondeful as magic is, many sorcerers have also adapted to using modern tech. A gun is a wonderful weapon regardless and is not restricted by any magical restrictions. A lock pick is a handy tool especially if there are magical barriers, and a gps will most likely be overlooked by the average mage. Magic is categorised into two base categories. Adepts, who can encompass a great many types of magic such as energy throwing or even something mundane as the practicing of runes, however this means they must dedicate their lives to this branch of magic, and this may leave them with irritating weaknesses. Also, with power comes corruption, and this means that people tend to fall to immorality. Elemental magic, allows you to use or practice the four basic types of magic, fire, water, earth and air. However, due to the difficulty and length of time it takes to master elemental magic it is not widely practiced, however it is versatile depending on your skills. Magic has so many forms and variants that it makes an interesting world. There is always something new, but it creates a vast and interesting plot that is literally brimming with magic, with new forms being explored, mentioned or introduced. It keeps the amazement going.
These are but a few examples, and I’m not going to explain the majestic systems of magic that exist in videogames, but you get the point. Magic is an undeniably fascinating and mesmerising plot device. And one of the greatest things about it, is the fact that literally anybody can create one. I’ve created at least five already and they’re constantly growing. I only improve with time, and that is why I can never grow out of magic. You don’t need any knowledge of physics or biology. You just need imagination and the will to create something amazing, whether for your amusement, or for that of others.
But whatever anyone says, magic exists in our world. It is all around us, no matter what age we are and it fills us with wonder and curiosity. We experience it the most at a young age and it leaves most of us the older we get. After all, as Arthur C, Clarke put it, “Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet.”