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  1. #1

    Fantasy with magic based on real world traditions

    Here's the thing, I've grown rather bored with worlds where magic works "just because". However, much to my disappointment, many authors seem to think of it as something to create imagery or close up a plot hole rather than think about how it actually works. I don't care if the character is throwing fire balls, but could you give me a little context? It's a chance to add cultural flavor to worlds that people sadly ignore. As a pagan, this simplistic view of the mystic cannot satisfy me as a person whose world view is immersed in a complex philosophical understanding of what one calls sorcery.

    Anyway, there is a question in this. Are there any series or stories set in worlds where magic functions in a manner similar to that described in real world occult texts? In other words, none of this arcane/divine divide crap. This isn't a recommendations thread, but I do honestly want to know if there are any significant books with this. Furthermore, why do authors seem to ignore these often lost opportunities? One does not have to write a thesis on the matter so why?

  2. #2
    Registered User Seli's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Could you give some more context? I have no idea what type of magic you want to read.

    At a first guess you could try some urban fantasy, say Ilona Andrews or Mike Carey. Those seem to be more likely to use traditional notions of what magic is.

  3. #3
    The closest I can think of are comic books:

    Alan Moore's 'Promethea' (Western Esotericism/Kabbala/Tarot)
    Grant Morrison's 'Invisibles' (Chaos Magick/Voudon Gnosis)

  4. #4
    An argument could also be made for Gene Wolfe. His ideas about magic are more along the lines of myth.

    Also, His Dark Materials by Pullman.
    Last edited by AuldAnxiety; April 15th, 2012 at 07:59 AM.

  5. #5
    Unreasonable reasoner
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    Nov 2008
    Abilene, Tx.
    Neil Gaiman might work. Not so much magic, but he does contemporize traditional mythical figures.

  6. #6
    I was thinking in a sort of Alan Moore vein. In other words, instead of oh I just healed someone because I just have magic. I was thinking more like I was able to do this with magic because I knew which spirits to invoke and the peculiar resonances of earth and water as they relate to the concept of healing and renewal, and understood what symbols would draw these divine energies down. A world where one has to know what water is on a cosmic scale and what it represents and what reigns over it(Gods, spirits, devils etc.) in order to make it all work.

    Also, I have no desire to read His Dark Materials. I know that basically any story with a message is a soap box, but reading a story that's a soap box for his atheism makes the whole heroic struggle seem pointless. I believe in science as much as the supernatural, but I think atheists should just shut up. No one cares if they don't believe, there's no point of talking about how much one doesn't believe. If one so convinced the divine doesn't exist then why argue about it. In such a line of thought there is no point to it.
    Last edited by Riothamus; April 15th, 2012 at 02:42 PM.

  7. #7
    A mere player txshusker's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    . Furthermore, why do authors seem to ignore these often lost opportunities? One does not have to write a thesis on the matter so why?
    My guess - judging from my reads and my own amateur writing - is most authors create speculative-other worlds, thus want new avenues or ideas for their own theories of magic that fit their made up environment. Earth's various occult beliefs are semi-common knowledge, so authors want to create their own unique experience; and our occult powers aren't thought of as fitting the "need power now" plots that many action based novels require to move forward quickly.

    If you read any of the Dresden files, you'll find most powers are what you're looking for, but a few others may not be... though I think Butcher does a pretty good job of explaining how artifacts are created in order to give quick power to someone in a jam.

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