‘Tough Travelling’ is a weekly feature. Every Thursday I’ll be rummaging around in my memory to come up with various examples of commonly used fantasy tropes. Full credit goes to Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn for coming up with the idea: be sure to check out his blog!
This week’s topic is 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?
(Magician by Raymond E. Feist)
Pug is a magician, captured by invading enemy forces from another planet and forced to work as a slave for years before being taken away for magical training and having all his memories stripped from him. As he becomes integrated into his new society, his memories begin to reassert themselves, and so does his sense of right and wrong. He is forced to control his feelings and adapt to a society built on slavery, but seeing his former countrymen being slaughtered like animals for the entertainment of the masses is the final straw. At the Great Games, Pug demonstrates the true power of a ‘Great One’ by unleashing terrifying elemental forces that tear the arena to the ground, while at the same time delivering a thundering speech judging society for its collective crimes. The scene is even more terrifying when we see it again in the Empire trilogy, this time through the eyes of those desperately fleeing the devastation.
(Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson)
Kruppe is a small, fat, cherubic thief who cheats at cards, refers to himself in the third person and generally irritates everyone with whom he comes into contact. Caladan Brood is a 300,000-year-old barbarian warlord, with god-like strength and magic; he also carries the fabled hammer of the goddess Burn, which has the power to shatter mountains and re-awaken the Sleeping Goddess herself. When Kruppe insinuates himself into a military parley with Brood, the short-tempered warlord finds Kruppe’s presence too frustrating to bear and strikes his hammer against the ground at his feet. The earth splits, the ground shakes and mountains crumble . . . and Kruppe stands amidst the destruction, untouched and smiling innocently. This is not the first clue that tells us Kruppe is much more than he appears.
Pug Travels Through Time
(A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist)
This mainly makes it onto the list because I was racking my brain for different types of magic other than just DESTRUCTION. In the third Riftwar Saga book, the magician Pug and his warrior friend Tomas find themselves trapped in time and space. In order to escape the trap they must send themselves back in time to the very birth of creation, and then move forward through time again to reach the point in which they left it. Bit confusing, and I honestly don’t remember all that much about it, but I remember it being very poetically described and pretty awe-inspiring. It also put me in mind of the scene from Magician where Pug stands on top of the tower in the City of Magicians and has the entire history of the planet unveiled to him I-MAX style, which is also a beautifully described example of awesome magic.
The Baby Discworld Turtles are Born
(The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett)
The first two Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, focus on the wizard Rincewind and his increasingly desperate quest to save the world. A deadly red star has appeared in the sky and is getting closer every day; while the ambitious wizard Trymon threatens to unleash deadly creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions in the name of personal ambition. Believing that the approaching star heralds the end of all things, the population of Ankh-Morpork riot against magic, and it’s all Rincewind can do to get to the Tower of Art before Trymon can read from the Octavo. After defeating Trymon, Rincewind reads the spell that will save the world. Much to his astonishment, the gigantic moons that encircle the red star crack open one by one, each hatching their own miniature version of the Discworld, all of which then follow Great A’Tuin away from the red star and off into the uncertain depths of space. It’s spectacular.
I also decided that I have to give a cursory mention to the Gedderone Fete in Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon. It’s the first true example of awesomeness in a series saturated with epic displays of magic, and I almost included it on my list instead of Kruppe. In the city of Darujhistan, shapeshifting dragons, fearsome demons, ancient tyrants and modern munitions conspire to turn the lady’s Fete into smoke and rubble, and it’s AWESOME.
That’s it for this week! Join us again next week for the topic of THE ACE and be sure to check out the Tough Travelling tab above for links to my previous posts and fellow travellers!