Tough Traveling: Awesome Displays of Power
The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan of Review Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information.
This week’s tour topic is: Awesome Displays of Power
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?
Should I be worried that the examples I want to feature this week all involve annihilation and destruction?
The Epics are all about awesome displays of power. Steelheart turned all of Newcago into a metallic jungle. Nightwielder blanketed it all in darkness. Faultline sank buildings into the ground. In Firefight, the Reckoners battle a new epic who has the power to level cities, and they have only days to find a way to stop him before he charges up and lets loose.
Imagine entire cities floating in the sky high above miles and miles of killer corn as far as the eye can see. Now imagine all those cities come crashing down at once. The rebels have had enough of the Empyrean elites and their (literally) high and mighty ways, and they’ve found a way to bring down their floating palaces to show them that Heartlanders are not as powerless and downtrodden as they think.
Visitors from space show earth and us puny humans who’s boss in this story of hostile alien invasion. They display their awesome power in multiple waves: the 1st was darkness. The 2nd was a killer tsunami. The 3rd was a deadly plague. The 4th wave made those still alive mistrust and turn on each other. Those that are left now prepare for the worst because they know “the Others” aren’t done with humanity yet, and a 5th wave is on the horizon.
Worried, Mogsy? Pfft! What magic is better than the kind of magic that brings death and destruction? Better still if it involves lots of blood and demons!
Blood magic is always a threat in any Dragon Age book. Mages access their magic through the Fade, the realm of demons and spirits. Want bigger, badder magic? Get a little blood into the mix. And that’s what makes mages so scary and why the Chantry wants to keep them locked safely in towers — and why the mages are tired of being held prisoner…
“The Nightlord cannot be controlled, child. He can only be unleashed. And you asked him not to kill.”
Sanderson has such amazing forms of magic in his books. I could include them all, but I’ll settle on the one that caught my eye first: Warbreaker, where colour is power — and you really don’t want to leave Denth in a room full of rainbows.
There’s a lockdown on magic in the kingdom of Adarlen, but the queen’s got her memories back and that includes her firebending powers. She’s coming back to Adarlen with vengeance on her mind, and she’ll burn everything that stands in her way.
The most frightening kind of magic of all is the law, especially when manipulated by, well, lawyers. In Alt Coloumb, Tara discovers magic powerful enough to even kill a god. Hopefully her necromancy is enough to handle it.
Jorg is deadly enough as is, but when he messes with the wrong necromancer, he gains power over the dead. But that’s not enough, is it. When he takes the power of the Ferrakind, no army can stand against him.
There is power in sleep. Power in dreams. The masters of narcomancy can kill with but a touch. They are feared for their abilities, but what if there is something that can kill even these protectors of the dreaming soul?
Confessors are revered women whose judgment is law — and when they confess you, you fall under their thrall, which is something the Confessors do not take lightly. But if you make a Confessor — especially the Mother Confessor — angry… well… you wouldn’t want to see her angry…
All right all right. Enough with the death and destruction. How about Moirin’s ability to breathe life into plants, and to channel her powers into the healing arts? See? That’s nice. UNTIL HER RUTHLESS LOVER USES HER ABILITIES TO BRING AN EVIL GOD UNDER HIS POSSESSION MWAHAHAHA!
Just to answer Wendy’s gif above:
The Soul Reapers of Bleach are tasked with banishing Hollows (violent, monstrous ghosts) from the world, and let’s just say they have some epic spiritual battles with one Soul Reaper in particular exhibiting the powers of both sides. This is one of my top 10 anime/manga, and this battle I included is one of my favorite battles. It may not be flashy as some of the others in this series, but it was when shit got real.
I am actually doing a re-read of this series for my new #ThrowbackThursday features. This series features a group of individuals chosen specifically for their neuroses to become part of a crime-fighting team call The Disllusionists. They’re taken and taught to use their neuroses as magical weapons in their tasks. The main character is a hypochondriac. She can take her fears, which often includes her believing she’s about to DIE at any moment, and turn them outward on her enemies. Some pretty ugly magical stuff can happen.
Desidora is a death priestess with a talking warhammer helping Locke with her heist in the book. Normally, Desidora appears as a pretty, tanned redhead. But when she’s angered or using her powers, her skin becomes deathly pale, her hair turns the color of night, even her clothing changes to death robes. Objects around her even start to react to her magic by sprouting tentacles and skulls. She’s a really nice gal, though.
The Santoth are a group of magicians who use magic that was “stolen” from their god and not meant to be uttered by human tongues, even the slightest change corrupts the magic despite the best of intentions:
Its intent may not have been conceived with wickedness. Nualo and the other Santoth were not themselves malignant. Even the rage that propelled them was rooted in a love of the world, in a longing to be able to rejoin it. But the power they unleashed had its own seething animus. If the language of the Giver all those years before had been one of creation, and if that act of creation had been a love hymn that sang the world into being on music that was the fabric of existence itself and that was, as the legends held, most wondrously good to behold … if that was so, then what the Santoth released was its opposite. Their song was a fire that consumed the world, a hunger that ate creation, not fed it.
Corruption , Leeka thought, doesn’t even begin to explain it . Nualo must have heard this, but he did not respond. He turned away, disgusted and impatient. He again unleashed air- rending shouts from the cavern of his mouth. He moved forward, arms flailing the world before him into shredded ribbons.
Percy Jackson is a demi-god whose father happens to be Poseidon. This is something he just learned about like two seconds ago. However, over the course of this book and the series, Percy learns to to exhibit some impressive waterbending control over his water abilities as shown here with Percy’s total lack of fucks given in his fight with Luke, the son of Hermes. *sigh* I still love you best, Luke.
I’ve long been a fan of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (since I was a child), but only recently started reading the books chronologically starting with this one. I know C.S. Lewis often referred to his faith in his books with Aslan being allegorical to God, and I think one of the most awesome and beautiful uses of magic is Aslan singing Narnia into creation. I bet he was all about that bass, too:
Far overhead from beyond the veil of blue sky which hid them the stars sang again; a pure, cold, difficult music. Then there came a swift flash like fire (but it burnt nobody) either from the sky or from the Lion itself, and every drop of blood tingled in the children’s bodies, and the deepest, wildest voice they had ever heard was saying: “Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.”
This is a tabletop role playing game with a book (of course) with a very interesting magical lore that says that everyone can shape reality and that the reality people believe in (that magic doesn’t exist) is a lie perpetuated by a group called the Technocratic Union, a group that’s convinced the world that only science exists. Even the magic itself is very varied from the unusual things such as science (but in a way that the TU hates), philosophy, technology, inspiration, information and religion along with more traditional magic to name a few. While all of the mages to me are fascinating (I used to watch a friend play and read his book), the Marauders were one of the most awe-inspiring. These are the mages who have gone completely insane. Not just a little mad, but completely absolutely insane. Their magic takes advantage of dynamism. Their magic is chaotic defying normal rules. Just like the TU serves as an extreme against magic, the Marauders likewise are an example of too much magical power. They seem nigh invincible because they don’t respond in the usual ways to the normal checks and balances in place sometimes and use mad magic to accomplish their goals. However, because of their mental state, they are barred from joining a group mages who sort of “transcend” their school of magic, and it’s not because they’re not powerful enough but because of their madness not allowing them to complete part of the process needed. I think they’ve fixed this in revised editions, but before, when I used to watch my friend play, they were magical beasts of nature not to be fucked with often.
The Fae is actually a magical energy that envelops the planet of Erna that is colonized by humans. Many humans proved to be as sensitive to the Fae as other lifeforms already on the planet. Some humans even gained the ability to manipulate it. The four types of Fae are Tidal, Earth, Dark, and Solar. The two that stick out the most for me are Tidal and Dark. Tidal sticks out because it’s the most finicky of the Fae energy and will not allow men to manipulate it. It won’t even let men feel or see its presence. It reminds me of the belief that you find in some books about dowsers that believe men cannot be dowsers because only women are attuned to water and water related events. Dark is where the scary awesome comes in. It’s the most powerful form. It was actually created by the darkness in men’s heart. It gives men great power, but it asks a great price. Tarrant uses his dark fae powers to feed on fear and causes it a lot among young women he hunts and kills in his forests.
I’d also like to note that Friedman said that her idea for the magic in this series was inspired by Asimov who said that if magic existed it still needed to be governed by natural laws as anything else. Useful if controlled, dangerous if not. Having windmills doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fear hurricanes was the example I think I remember being used.
The FMA universe is one universe that has never ceased to amaze me with how they’ve used science and magic. The alchemy of the universe is part magic/part science that works on a natural flowing principle of understanding (comprehending the science behind it), deconstructing (using understanding to break down the energy into something usable), and reconstructing (using understanding and deconstruction to recreate and continue the flow into a new shape). Alchemy in the FMA world works much like magic in many books/shows that believe in the law of exchange or personal gain. There has to be an equal exchange. In order to create, you must lose something. The greater the creation you are attempting, the greater the loss (but there is some leniency is the “loss” in this sense). Most Alchemist have a particular element they control such as fire, water, air, or earth. However, there are some alchemist who control things such as mercury, sulfur, or salt. And the protagonist of the series can command quite a few in time. In the series, the Homunculi serve as the Alchemists’ chief antagonists. They are beings created by evil alchemy. Eight exist. Seven of them are named after the seven deadly sins (and I am actually thinking about getting a Lust tattoo) and the most powerful is called Father. They are powerful foes for the Alchemist and have hellacious battles of alchemy and magic.