Tough Traveling — Awesome Displays of Magic


tough guideEvery Thursday, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn leads a group of fellow bloggers on “Tough Travels”, a trip through the tropes that populate the fantasy and sci-fi world, using Diane Wynne Jones’ hilarious The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a guide.

This week’s subject is “Awesome Displays of Magic”:

Belgarion — Guardians of the West by David Eddings

guardiansQuick! You’ve got two opposing armies of knights lined up on the battlefield, ready to charge at each other and throw their country into bloody civil war. How do you, Overlord of the West and a fledgling sorcerer deal with this. Belgarion calls down the thunder, literally, summoning a storm over the plains of Vo Mimbre to cow the warring knights. Of course, being a fledgling sorcerer, Belgarion overcompensates and nearly changes the planet’s weather patterns permanently. Thankfully Belgarath and Beldin are able to get things back to normal.

Dreadaeleon— The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

sykesDread really wants to be a hero. The young mage has a terminal inferiority complex and more than a little contempt for his non-magical fellow adventurers. So when Denaos and Lenk are imprisoned in the Fasha Ghouka’s mansion he sees his opportunity to stop the battling cultists and demons and prove just how powerful a mage he is. No one would mock or underestimate him any more. So he decided to unleash fiery death on the attackers… not realizing that the floors and walls of the mansion were covered in oil. The results were certainly spectacular…

Quentin — The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

magician's landOkay, if you haven’t read the finale of the Magicians trilogy, be warned, spoilers abound. Quentin has spent the previous two books moping around, wanting to be a hero and generally being dissatisfied with his lot in life as a young wizard with no worries and Fillory, the magical kingdom from his favorite childhood books, as his playground. In The Magician King he has been cast out of Fillory and actually gotten around to grow up. And he does some pretty spectacular magic as a result. First he manages to bring his ex-girlfriend Alice back from undeath as a demonic niffen. Then he singlehandedly reconstructs Fillory after the age of its twin ram gods, Ember and Umber, passes. So yeah, that’s pretty awesome.
And that’s all I got this week. Been too involved in real life and puppy messes to give it much more thought…

—Michael Senft

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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12 Responses to Tough Traveling — Awesome Displays of Magic

  1. Ah, stupid Puppies. :\

    I’m not a fan of Eddings, but Sykes has been on my wishlist for a while and I have the first Magicians book on my TBR. The City Stained Red sounds awesome, but I didn’t read the Magicians bit because of the spoiler warning. 😀

    Great list!


  2. Tammy says:

    It’s really a mixed bag this week, I haven’t seen any repeated examples yet, which is good, it means there is plenty of awesome magic out there:-D


  3. Kaja says:

    I started reading The Magicians once and I got stuck some 60% through… Like you said, Quentin was basically a brat. Does the series get better later on?


  4. lynnsbooks says:

    I haven’t read the Magicians yet or City Stained Red but I would like to do so eventually.
    Lynn 😀


  5. Bookwraiths says:

    Wow, some great picks this week. Haven’t read most of these, but you make them sound very interesting. 🙂


  6. Nathan says:

    Indeed I enjoyed the magic feeding fire in City Stained Red. Very fitting for this week.


    • I read that and my immediate memory was of old D&D campaigns where I did something phenomenally stupid and my GM kind of choked and responded “You’re going to do what? Oookaaayyy… Roll a save.”


  7. rudejasper says:

    I actually stopped after reading the first of Lev Grossman’s series because it kind of irritated me BUT I’ve recently heard that the other two books in the series are awesome and should be read even if you didn’t love book 1. So I didn’t read your spoilers:). Nice list as always.I love that you always include the Belgariad!


    • The Magicians suffers from being misrepresented I think. It’s often sold as “Harry Potter for adults” but I see it more about growing up and becoming an adult, coming to terms with your childhood dreams and dealing with depression. Not necessarily normal fantasy fare. The trilogy is one of my favorites, but I know a lot of people that can’t get past Quentin’s attitude. The second and third do lighten the whiny-ness considerably. He’s still a bit of a dick in the second, but that book is all about Julia. The third one he redeems himself, or at least grows up.
      And there will always be a place for Eddings – he owns all the tropes…


  8. Oh wow, the ending to the Magician’s Land is perfect. Good one.


  9. “battling cultists and demons” – for me this was the equivalent of “hook, line and sinker”! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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