Fantastical Intentions is back, this time with a very snazzy new logo courtesy of Hannah.
For those of you who haven't seen the first few iterations, here's the lowdown. Fantastical Intentions is a weekly feature run by Hannah (from Once Upon A Time) and myself, in which we select an category from sheer whim, and then choose our favourite novels or fantasies within that category. Previously we've covered races, Christmas reads and fantasy worlds - and this time, we're adding 'Magic Systems' to that list. Feel free to comment below with your own picks - we'd love to hear from you.
So: magic systems. Both a staple of fantasy and a great love of mine, magic systems are part of what keep fantasy unque and interesting - so much that I even write a monthly column on them. The hard part wasn't choosing some: it was choosing one. Nevertheless, we've got our picks below:
My pick is the magic system from Maria V. Snyder's Study series. A trilogy beginning with Poison Study, it follows Yelena as she is released from her death sentence to become a poison taster for the Commander and must learn how to tell if food is poisoned and with what from Valek, the Commander's personal assassin. This is one of those books that I believe could be called "new adult". It doesn't quite feel young adult but it's also not quite adult. Either way, I loved it, and the magic system was utterly fantastic.
The idea behind it was that it was basically like a large sheet across the world and when you used magic you took a thread and weaved it into your spell. In some places the magic bunches up, in some it's more sparse, and at all times there needs to be a kind of balance else it all collapses and it's highly important that young magicians are found and trained before they lose control of what's inside of them and cause serious damage. I loved the way this magic system was thought out and described so much. Of course, I'm also damn fond of the magic system within the Kingkiller Chronicles but I turn to Patrick Rothfuss way too much so I believe it's somebody else's turn.
Jacob's Choice: Sympathy
Did I mention this was a hard choice? I believe I did. There are a huge number of potential systems out there: rule-based, mysterious, and everything inbetween. And choosing a particular style as my favourite? I would rather read Goodkind. :P All the way through. So instead, my pick - though definitely a favourite - is chosen because it illustrates a few superlatively brilliant attributes. First, however, I should probably mention what I've chosen: Sympathy. For those who haven't read The Name of the Wind,
A common principle in all kinds of ritualistic practices, both fictional and historical, Rothfuss managed to turn this into a hard, rule based system: the user links two objects through a binding - anything from parallel motion to heat transfer! - using his or her will and belief. The more similar the objects, the better the link - so if a sympathist gets hold of a blood sample, get ready to worry. Because it's such a simple system, we know exactly what Kvothe can do: which makes his use of it both far more common and more interesting. When it's used as a resolution, it's not a deus ex machina - it's understood, which means anticipating said clever uses is a great deal of fun.
These are our picks - but what are yours? Feel free to comment and tell us below!