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:

io9's Epic 'Rules of Magic'

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.

  • Kevin December 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Pretty disappointing chart. The entries are too brief. I notice how much was left out for books I know, like The Kingkiller Chronicles, and wonder what I’m missing for the other stories I haven’t heard of.

  • Andrew December 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I’m a little surprised Steven Erikson’s system didn’t make the list as it’s one of my favourites. I also agree with Kevin’s comment; it might have been a better idea to do 10 really well than 50 rather quickly.

  • Jamie (mithrilwisdom) December 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Nice! Shall have to look at this in a bit of detail later on. Thanks for the link :)