In a pure labour of love, io9 has compiled a table detailing the magic systems in nearly all of Fantasy’s most popular series and worlds.
From the blog post:
Magic is mysterious and ancient, and its workings are often beyond the understanding of mere mortals. But that doesn’t mean that magic doesn’t have rules.
Every fantasy saga has its own rules for magic, and its own explanations for how the magical arts work. Where does magic come from? Who can use magic, and how? Do regular muggles know magic exists? We dug through 50 or so of our favorite fantasy sagas, and compiled a complete list of the rules of magic in each of them.
And an excerpt:
It’s fun to wander through all of these various world (especially the ones I haven’t visited in years) and compare and contrast all the imaginative ways that the genre’s authors have embraced the idea of otherworldly power. Looking more closely, though, it’s strange that Wheel of Time, known for having one of the most complex and nuanced magic systems in Fantasy has such a short entry, and the description of Brooks’ magic system in Shannara is flat-out wrong (the four elements? What?) Still a fun (and impressive) collection.
Jordan was known for his careful attention to detail, tackling gender roles and writing strong female characters in his novels. The island home of the Aes Sedai (ostensibly, female wizards) looks like a vagina.
Tor.com‘s Irene Gallo is reporting that Darrell K. Sweet has passed away at the age of 77:
It is with tremendous sadness that I report that Darrell K. Sweet passed away this morning. Since the mid 1970s, Darrell’s illustrations defined many of fantasy’s most beloved series — Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, among literally thousands of genre book covers. An avid history buff, Darrell also spent much of his time painting frontiersmen and the American West. His paintings evoked the classic storytelling narration of the Golden Age illustrators. A Sweet cover promised an adventure to be had.
In recent years, Sweet’s artwork has been at the wrong end of several jokes and various criticisms across the blogosphere (including this blog), but there’s no denying, especially when looking at the artwork scattered throughout this post, that Sweet was an absolute legend of the Fantasy Art field and contributed greatly to the vision of Fantasy in the ’80s and ’90s. In fact, Sweet’s art, particularly his work on Terry Brooks’ novels, helped invigorate and really define my love for Fantasy as a teenager. He gave a magical vision to the stories bouncing around in my mind as I read.
To those worrying about the final cover for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Gallo reports that Sweet’s painting was unfinished at the time of his passing:
I’m particularly sad that he was unable to finish Memory of Light, the final book on Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series the The Wheel of Time. He has been a vital part of this series since it’s beginning, 25 years ago. I know he was hoping, to the end, to be able to see this epic body of work to its completion.
It seems a silly thing to worry about in the wake of Sweet’s passing, but Sweet has been the cover artist for Jordan’s legendary series since it found its first readers over 20 years ago. Regardless of the quality of the most recent Wheel of Time covers, it is a shame that Sweet was not given the chance to finish the series and leave a lovingly consistent look to the entire series.
My guess is that Sweet’s draft will be adapted or finished by another artist (Greg Manchess?), similar to the treatment given to Jordan’s final novels, which are being finished by Brandon Sanderson. Only time will tell, however.
My thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones.
Via an interview between Newton and Rowena Cory Daniells:
The lead character, Lucan Drakenfeld, is a bit like a young lawyer-slash-detective, and certainly the polar opposite of a private eye (if anything, he’s a public eye). I’m really trying to steer away from noir pastiche because I feel that would be disrespectful to crime readers. The book is as much a crime novel as it is a fantasy novel. Imagine a mainstream writer trying their hand at a fantasy novel, and filled it with a paint-by-numbers story – they’d be strung up by the fanbase, which is why I’m not doing a paint-by-numbers crime novel, either.
Very much looking forward to this. Glad to see, also, that Newton’s a smart enough fellow to actively avoid falling into the tropes and cliches of the noir/crime genre. Some of the best moments on Newton’s first novel, Nights of Villjamur were the noirish mystery elements fused with Fantasy in investigator Rumex Jeryd’s storyline. Newton is playing to his strengths by embracing that kind of character and story (even if Jeryd did sometimes fall into those recognizable tropes that Newton refers to in this latest interview.)
Stumbled across a an interesting nugget in a recent interview with Michael J. Sullivan on SFF World:
You’ve got some other stories in the works, do you want to let us know about any of them?
Well some are older pieces that I’ve resurrected, which means a complete rewrite from the ground up, but the seed of the story remains intact. If I try to talk about my books I end up rambling, so I’ll give you the “back of the book blurbs” which do a better job than I would if I just talked about them. The first is Antithesis:
Have you ever wondered about how the world would end?
No, well don’t sweat it, most don’t and those that do figure it will come about due to a dramatic change in climate, a widespread disease, or war. That’s what we’ve been taught to believe and our brains are always eager for a rational explanation, but our minds weren’t always so logical. There was a time when people believed in myths and magic, but in today’s scientific age if it can’t be proved, well it doesn’t exist.
I was the same way until I met Winston Stewart. That was the day I learned to believe in much more than I could see—not the least of which is fate. Fate is an amazing thing. It put Ghandi in South Africa, Nelson at Gibraltar, Newton under the apple tree, and Winston Stewart on that train in Alexandria Virginia. You don’t know who Winston Stewart is? You will.
I also have literary fiction piece which, in many ways is the antithesis of The Riyria Revelations. It’s the book that made me quit writing when I couldn’t get it published. Riyria is fast-paced, written in a simple style, and contains a sweeping epic involving likeable characters. A Burden to the Earth is a very simple tale about a complex man and his very small life. In this book I concentrated on constructing the prose and so it reads much differently than the simple, straightforward style I used with Riyria. Here is the blurb for it:
He learned values from Gunsmoke, ethics from Father Knows Best, and his place in the world from Ozzie & Harriet, but his life turned out much different.
A child of the fifties, Elliot Myers believed his parents, his teachers, his priest, and television when they promised him the American dream. Now at forty, and still living in his mother’s tiny condominium, he knows they all lied. Embittered by a world that moved ahead and left him behind, Elliot finds one last chance to free himself of forty years of waiting and makes his first, and final, grasp at life. Set in the early 1990’s A Burden to the Earth explores regret over lost innocence, nostalgia for the past, and the cost of dwelling on both.
I’ve seen Sullivan speak vaguely about some of the other projects he’s been working on since completing The Riyria Revelations (including a prequel trilogy that’s not included in the quote above), but never quite in so much detail. As I mention in my review of Theft of Swords, the first volume of Sullivan’s ‘trilogy’ (which is actually comprised of six volumes), Sullivan’s bread-and-butter appears to be his handle on Fantasy tropes and conventions and his ability to tell them simple, compulsively readable way that somehow manages to avoid feeling stale despite all the easy-recognized elements. These two descriptions are a step away from what Sullivan established with his Fantasy trilogy, most notably by both being set on Earth, rather than a secondary world and A Burden of the Earth steps entirely away from genre fiction. It’s nice to see authors diversify their library, but I’m sure that Sullivan fans (and Orbit Books, his publisher) would love to see him spending his writing time on the novels set in the world of The Riyria Revelations. It will be interesting to see which direction he goes.