Different stories call for magic to be used for different things. Because of its versatile nature, there isn’t really a limit to what magic can do. The limits are put in place by the writer of the world, who will have decided to do so for a variety of reasons.
If you’ve read several different fantasy novels, you’ll likely have noticed that no one really uses magic for the same reasons. Some authors will make magic purely an offensive entity, where it’s used for fighting or to fend off those using magic to attack. And while this is probably the most common type of magic, it’s far from all that’s possible.
Personally, I like it most when a story allows magic to be used for pretty much anything. This means that the magic isn’t really limited by the author’s desires, but more by the physical limitations of the user, the world, and the user’s strength. When magic is used to enrich a story like that as more of an everyday tool rather than a sacred ability that’s only used when absolutely necessary, it makes magic feel more real.
Anyway, onto what this post is actually about. What kinds of magic are there?
Honestly, I don’t think you can make a list of the different types because magic in fiction is just that, magic, and it’s not really limited to anything but what the writer tells it to be. You want magic that does the opposite of what you tell it to do? It’s possible. Or maybe you want magic that can’t do anything more than grow flowers from nothing– that’s possible too.
On the other hand, you can divide magic by its use though the list would still be extremely long. An example would be like I said somewhere above, combative magic. That’s an enormous category; there are so many ways that someone could use magic to benefit them in a fight. But there are still a couple thousand completely different things magic can be used for.
Let’s see… there’s also magic that you could use to help with everyday things, like brushing your teeth, cooking, and cleaning. Or… a little bit trickier would be magic that alters your physical capabilities, so things such as eyesight, strength, etc.
If you keep the possibilities relatively normal, I mean, more or less what you’d find in our world, magic wouldn’t be as versatile as we know it to be. But as soon as you start thinking of magic in a full-blown fantasy world, what you can do with it quadruples. You’ve got telepathy, healing, flying… Magic could be somehow attuned to different elements, and there’d be people around that could start fires with a simple touch, or talk plants into growing faster. Then you’ve got the people who can make it rain, snow, or grace the world with sunshine.
You know, I’ve read quite a few books and have always loved fantasy. But even after reading a dozen or so books in the genre, I’m fully aware that it’s only a taste of what’s possible and what people have already written. Saying that, I want more. I don’t think I’ve read anything yet with an incredibly unique magic system or someone who has used magic in a completely outlandish way. I’m dying to see something that’s different than what’s considered “normal”.
How about you– what do you think about magic and its many uses? Have you read any books with an amazing magic system or know someone who has given magic an entirely new use?