Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Top 5 Tuesday: Magic Systems


It's been a minute since I've posted once of these, but today I've finally been able to participate again in Top 5 Tuesday, originally hosted by BionicBookworm, now hosted by MeeghanReads!

This week's theme is: Magic Systems

This week's topic is all about magic systems! There are a lot of magic systems I enjoy, and I tend to like both hard and soft magic systems–usually whatever fits the story best works for me. For this list, however, I've opted to share some systems that are a little more on the harder side, or at least ones that have more obvious rules, limits, and/or methods of being used. There are so many more magic systems I could rave about (especially softer ones like elemental types of magic, the 'Gnosis' from R. Scott Bakker's trilogy, to name a few), but here are just five that I've liked learning about!

The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire, #1)The Bone Shard Emperor (The Drowning Empire, #2)

1. The Drowning Empire Trilogy by Andrea Stewart
Books: The Bone Shard Daughter, The Bone Shard Emperor, The Bone Shard War (not yet released!)

The Drowning Empire Trilogy has been quite popular and I know all of us fans are anxiously awaiting the release of the third and final book in the trilogy, The Bone Shard War. I'm not actually always that great at describing magic systems, but here's an excerpt from my review where I did my best to describe it: "Bone shard magic basically works to help create and direct creatures known as 'constructs,' which are essentially put together with various animal parts and seem to be the sort of military/police of the land. Without these constructs, there isn't a whole lot to enforce law and order, so when the various 'commands' that are imbued into them fail, repercussions can be fairly momentous. I loved seeing all the different ways that bone shard magic functioned and how Lin learned how to use it most effectively." Needless to say, it's a pretty cool system to get to explore as a reader. 

Soul of the World (The Ascension Cycle, #1)Blood of the Gods (The Ascension Cycle #2)

2. The Ascension Cycle by David Mealing
Books: Soul of the World, Blood of the Gods, Chains of the Earth (not yet released!)

I'll be honest here, it's been a couple years since I last read a book in this trilogy so my knowledge of the magic system is a little fuzzy... but I know I had a lot of fun with it and it's one that I tend to think of when I think about cool magic systems. It reminded me a bit of a video game in the sense that you could really keep track of abilities and stamina, and that it was a very visual sort of magic system where you could actually see how the magic was used. From my review for Blood of the Gods, I wrote this about the magic system:
"The first and most prominent standout of this book is the magic system- or should I say the magic systems? That's right, there isn't just one unique magic system, there are multiple, and each one is incredibly interesting to explore and see in action. What I really loved was that all of the setup in the first book regarding how the magic systems worked and how the characters were able to use their magic completely paid off because this book allowed us to dive even deeper into not only the magic, but also the world, characters, and politics." I'm not sure when we'll finally get the third book, but I'm really excited for it!

Torn (The Unraveled Kingdom, #1)Fray (The Unraveled Kingdom, #2)Rule (The Unraveled Kingdom, #3)

3. The Unraveled Kingdom by Rowenna Miller
Books: Torn, Fray, Rule

I had so much fun with the magic in The Unraveled Kingdom because it's all about the ability to sew various types of charms into basically any fabric, from clothes, bags, sails, anything–if it has stitches, it can have a charm sewn into it. I loved how much detail Miller put into what seems like a more straightforward magic system when it's anything but. We get to see how it affects the protgaonist, such as whether she is creating positive charms versus more negative charms, as well as the different ways it can be used, such as with political issues... which sounds weird, but you'll find out more about if you read the trilogy. 

On Lavender Tides (Jekua, #1)

4. Jekua series by Travis Riddle
Books: On Lavender Tides, (more TBA!)

I don't think I could make a post like this without including the super fun magic system in Travis Riddle's newest series, which is very Pokemon-inspired and makes for a really great time. Here is, one again, an excerpt from my review where I describe it: "Much like Pokemon, Jekua are the many animal-like creatures that inhabit this world, each with their own unique skills and abilities. Jekua Summoners use special devices called kayets to ‘imprint’ them, essentially creating a copy of them, which they can then use to have battles with other Summoners and their own Jekua. Summoners have to train with their Jekua in order to work cohesively together and can learn a wide myriad of tricks and techniques to become better and stronger competitors, many of which go on to compete in tournaments and acclaim great fame for their skills. I haven’t read all that many progressive fantasy books, so I wasn’t sure exactly what I might be getting into this time around, but I have to say that I had such a blast learning about the mechanics of summoning. From the hard rules about imprinting and how to work Jekua to the more varied lessons about teaching Jekua new skills and learning how to better work with them, I was fully engrossed and watched everything play out in my hand like a movie." It's awesome!

The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1)The Light of All That Falls (The Licanius Trilogy, #3)An Echo of Things to Come (The Licanius Trilogy, #2)

5. The Licanius Trilogy by James Islington
Books: The Shadow of What Was Lost, An Echo of Things to Come, The Light of All that Falls

The Licanius Trilogy is one of my favorite series (and did you hear that The Broken Binding is doing a special edition set of these!? I'm beyond excited) and one reason is because of how much I loved and understood the magic system.  A brief explanation of the set up of this world's magic: "People in this world are separated into three main groups: the Gifted, the Augurs, and those with no magic. Augurs are the rarest and are considered to be essentially eradicated after they became unreliable and seen as a danger to the population. As a result of this, the Gifted were also 'bound' to the Four Tenets, which basically means that, at the core, they are unable to use their powers on any non-Gifted people--not even for self-defense--and are closely watched by the Administration. They are also, for the most part, completely hated and feared by all non-Gifted people. I thought that this setup made for an interesting story as it examined the various power constructs among these groups. For instance, the Gifted are technically more physically powerful, but the non-Gifted have them bound and unable to defend themselves, so therefore they are actually weaker." The magic that the Gifted can do vary from the Augurs, and even within both groups things are hard to succinctly describe so I'll leave it there, but it's such a cool and incredible read and you should really check this series out. 

The Tethered Mage (Swords and Fire, #1)The Defiant Heir (Swords and Fire, #2)The Unbound Empire (Swords and Fire #3)

Bonus #6: Swords and Fire trilogy by Melissa Caruso
Books: The Tethered Mage, The Defiant Heir, The Unbound Empire

This has a super interesting magic system because it's characterized by what is known as a Falcon/Falconer relationship in which a Falcon's, or mage's, magic abilities are bound by a non-mage in order to control their magic. This is done because Falconer's in the past have wreaked havoc with their magic and those in charge decided it was no longer safe to let them use or have their magic in an unchecked capacity. It makes for a really fascinating read to see how all the dynamics of this setup play out amidst a lot of other drama and political intrigue. It's another one that I highly recommend!

Have you read any of these books and magic systems? What are some magic systems you like?


  1. I haven't read The Unraveled Kingdom but that magic system sounds so cool😁

  2. What a fun idea for a post! I tend to prefer harder magical systems, but soft ones can be neat to read about, too.

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-an-outdoor-adventures-reading-list/

  3. Interesting topic. I don't read much of that, but it was fun to see your picks this week.

  4. I love the sound of the Jekua series, and that cover for Lavender is AWESOME.

  5. I think I need to try Miller! :)

    Check out my TTT