I had planned on doing a Top 5 favorite magic systems post, but as I was writing it I discovered that I don’t have that many that I am passionate enough about to include in a top 5 list. So here we are.
I didn’t want to include specific spoilers so I tried to be as vague as possible in summarizing these magic systems. However, somewhat mild magic system spoilers were unavoidable. If you are the type of person that likes to discover every aspect of a magic system when reading the book for yourself, you may want to just look at the 4 series that I have included here without reading my comments on them.
4) Powder Mages – Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan
The uniqueness of ingesting black powder to increase physical strength and agility, as well as control other black powder within a certain area compelled me to include the magic of Powder Mages on this list. Extremely deadly in battle, this is a magic system that you don’t want to miss.
3) The Sacred Arts – Cradle series by Will Wight
Similar to the abilities shown in some Shonen manga, this magic system is just so much fun! Everyone has the ability to wield magic in this world, but the truly countless ways (every single tribe has their own distintive style) that the Sacred Artists wield this magic, the realistically earned ability progression of the characters, and the raised stakes of never knowing what an opponent is capable of make the Sacred Arts my 3rd favorite magic system of all time. It may be even higher at some point as there are still 5 books left in this series that are yet to be published.
2) Chromaturgy – Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks
If I had to describe this magic system in one word it would be imaginative. This magic system that allows “Drafters’ to draw from light/color to do extraordinary things is incredibly realized. Not only that, but there is a high cost to each Drafter every time they use their ability. The magic of this world is truly a thing of awe and wonder. Chromaturgy’s versatility, vivid descriptions, high cost, and how the magic is intertwined with this world’s day to day life make it my 2nd favorite magic system ever.
1) Allomancy – Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
There was a time during my reading of the Cradle series where I thought that it had surpassed Mistborn’s Allomancy in terms of my favorite of all time. I was in the midst of a series I ended up loving and I think that was an emotionally charged opinion at the time. Who was I kidding though? Of course my favorite of all time is Allomancy.
This hard magic system uses the ingestion of specific metal flakes to gain the user specific abilities for each different metal. Not everyone is born with these abilities and only a very few can use all of the metals. This is my favorite magic system of all time not only because Allomancer battles are some of the best action sequences I have ever read, but also because the stakes are so high every single time the magic user burns a metal. If the metal “burns’ completely away before the battle is done, the Allomancer will lose whatever abilities they had instantly and Brandon Sanderson uses this “flaw” in the magic users to great effect.
How about you? What are some of your favorite magic systems and why? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!