Tough Traveling is a weekly feature, created and hosted by Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn, in which participants come up with a list of books that follow the fantasy tropes that can be found in Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Each week, Nathan picks a new subject. This week’s topic was a little harder for me than last week’s, but I think I came up with some good examples. In all of these books, magic practically jumps off the pages, begging to be noticed:
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?
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Schwab’s latest is filled to the brim with awesome magic. In this insanely creative example of world-building, there are four different Londons: Red London, where magic is vibrant and used for good; White London where cruel rulers have made life dangerous and harsh; Grey London where magic has all but disappeared; and mysterious Black London that may or may not exist anymore. When the magic of Black London was about to lose control, Red London stepped in and magically sealed off the doors to Black London for good.
California Bones by Greg van Eekhout. There are lots of awesome, big magic in van Eekhout’s world, but one example is magician Gabriel’s special brand. Gabriel is a water mage, and he is powerful enough to control all the water in Los Angeles. He doesn’t lose control and do anything terrible to the city’s water supply, but the fact that he could is enough for me to include him on this list. From the canal systems that run through the city like freeways, to the pipes full of water that weave throughout houses and
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. This book is filled with big magical displays! When the Gods of the city Bulikov were killed by a powerful group of magic wielders, an event called The Blink occurred—an event that literally changed the city forever. Buildings were magically reconstructed and stairways that go nowhere suddenly appeared. And in another awesome display of magic, Shara inadvertently releases a powerful monster named Urav, who is set loose in the sea and begins to terrorize the city.
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. Here’s another example with a potentially awesome display of magic. In a world where people obtain their magic from the stars, the rising of the star Oma portents tragedy and world war. Oma hasn’t been seen in many years, and many people don’t believe it exists. But the presence of Omajistas, those who get their magic from the star Oma, are preparing for it to rise.
Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone. All of Gladstone’s books have great examples of magic gone crazy, but I thought I’d use this book to illustrate—once again—the potentially destructive kind of magic that needs to be stopped before it turns deadly. In this story, a powerful craftswoman named Malina Kekapania wishes to wake two powerful and deadly serpents, asleep deep in the ocean, who will destroy the world once they wake up.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some obvious examples, can you think of any good ones?