Discover the top twenty coolest magic systems in fantasy literature, from Allomancy in Mistborn to The Force in Star Wars. Join us on a journey of wonder and imagination!
Magic systems in fantasy literature are like the spices in a curry, the kick in your favourite cocktail, or the jam in your doughnut (note to self: must order some doughnuts…and cocktails).
They’re the magical ingredient that makes the world feel truly fantastical.
Here, are some of the coolest magic systems that have graced the pages of fantasy literature.
Allomancy – Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson
Allomancy, featured in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, is a magic system that’s all about balance. The Allomancers ingest metals and ‘burn’ them to gain specific abilities. It’s like swallowing a coin and suddenly being able to jump over buildings. It’s all very scientific, you see.
The One Power – Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The One Power in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time is divided into male and female halves: Saidin and Saidar. It’s a bit like a magical tug of war, where balance and cooperation are key. Just remember, this one could lead to going mad, so don’t get too carried away.
Naming – The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
In Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle, knowing something’s true name gives you power over it. It’s a bit like calling your dog by its full name when it’s been naughty. Except in this case, you could control the wind, fire, or even time itself. Now that’s powerful.
The Skill and The Wit – Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
In Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, magic comes in two flavours: The Skill and The Wit. The Skill is all about telepathy and compulsion, while The Wit is a deeper, more primal magic that forges bonds with animals. It’s like being a magical Dr. Dolittle.
Lygari – The Broken Empire Series by Mark Lawrence
Lygari in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series is a magic of manipulation. It involves bending reality to one’s will, like convincing the universe that gravity is merely a suggestion. It’s the perfect magic system for anyone who’s ever wanted to argue with physics and win.
Charter Magic – The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix
Charter Magic in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series involves drawing symbols to create spells. It’s a bit like magical calligraphy, where a beautifully drawn Charter Mark could save your life, or a poorly scribed one could turn you into a frog. So, remember to cross your ‘t’s and dot your ‘i’s!
The Warrens – Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
The Warrens in Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen are a series of magical realms that mages draw power from. Each Warren is tied to a specific element or concept. It’s like having a magical timeshare, with the added bonus of cosmic power.
Hands of Power – Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks
The Hands of Power in Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer Series involve turning light into physical substances. Each colour has different properties and uses. It’s like being a magical artist, only instead of painting a rainbow, you’re using one to conquer the world.
Orogeny – The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
In N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy, Orogenes have the ability to manipulate thermal, kinetic, and related forms of energy to quell or create earthquakes, essentially making them living fault lines. This magic system is as much about geology as it is about power, making it a truly ground-breaking addition to the genre.
Glamour – The Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal
In the Regency-era Glamourist Histories series by Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamour is a magic system that allows one to create illusions by manipulating strands of the ether. It’s like painting with light and heat, weaving them together to create a masterpiece of deception.
The Grisha Orders – Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse presents a world where the Grisha, gifted individuals, possess the ability to manipulate matter at its most fundamental levels. Divided into three orders (Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki), the magic feels like a blend of science and art, with a dash of military discipline.
Elemental magic – Codex Alera Series by Jim Butcher
In the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher, citizens can control elemental furies – spirits of earth, air, fire, water, and metal. It’s a captivating blend of Roman history and Pokémon-like creature collection, with a high-stakes twist.
Dust – His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Dust isn’t just dirt. It’s a mysterious, elemental particle that is linked to consciousness and can reveal profound truths about the universe. It’s as if quantum physics had a magical, philosophical cousin.
The Lores – The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
In N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy, godlings and gods can use one of four lores – Sieh (lore of childhood), Zhakkarn (lore of war), Kurue (lore of love), or Nahadoth (lore of chaos and change) to manipulate reality. It’s an epic, divine twist on the concept of ‘knowledge is power’.
Sympathy – The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
Another magic system from The Kingkiller Chronicle is Sympathy, a scientific, almost mathematical system of magic. It involves creating a sympathetic link between two objects so that what happens to one happens to the other. It’s like the most complex, magical version of the domino effect you can imagine.
Thaumaturgy – The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone
In Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, Thaumaturgy is a contractual magic powered by starlight and gods. Its practitioners, known as Craftsmen and Craftswomen, can manipulate energy, matter, time, space, and even souls—often via legalese. It’s as if a law degree came with a side order of reality-bending power.
The Discipline – Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
In Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, the Discipline isn’t just about self-control. It’s a state of mind that allows one to access and use Additive and Subtractive Magic. It’s like if meditation could unlock the ability to manipulate life, death, and everything in between.
The Four Disciplines – The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Next, we have the Four Disciplines from The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. These involve the control of magic via the ancient language, the ability to transform matter, the ability to store energy in gems, and the power to enter and manipulate the minds of others. It’s a magical buffet that covers all the bases from mind control to energy manipulation.
There’s more to the Harry Potter series than waving wands and shouting Latin phrases. The Deathly Hallows, a trio of powerful magical artefacts, are a mere legend to most, but to others, they’re the ultimate magical upgrade. Cloak of invisibility, anyone?
The Force – Star Wars by George Lucas
Yes, Star Wars counts as fantasy literature. The Force, that mystical energy field that gives Jedi their power, is an iconic magic system. It’s essentially telekinesis, mind control, and precognition rolled into one. Use it wisely, young Padawan.
And there you have it – twenty of the coolest magic systems in fantasy literature.
Whether you’re a burgeoning wizard, a keen reader, or just appreciate a good magic system, we’ve got you covered.
After all, who needs reality when you can have magic?
Explore 10 epic fantasy series that match ‘The Wheel of Time’ in scope and complexity. Dive into new worlds rich in character development and intrigue.
If you’re a fan of Robert Jordan’s sprawling masterpiece, ‘The Wheel of Time,’ finding the next big series to sink your teeth into can be quite the task.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We’ve compiled a list of epic fantasy series that share a similar scope, rich world-building, and complex character development.
Here’s your guide to finding the perfect series to embark on next.
1. ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin
Martin’s epic series, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ is an intricate, multi-faceted world with a vast cast of characters. The series, which inspired the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV show, is known for its realistic portrayal of political intrigue and unpredictable plot twists. If you enjoyed the complex character relationships and political manoeuvring in ‘The Wheel of Time,’ this series is a must-read.
2. ‘The Stormlight Archive’ by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson, the author who completed ‘The Wheel of Time’ series after Jordan’s untimely passing, has his own epic series: ‘The Stormlight Archive.’ Known for his intricate magic systems and world-building, Sanderson’s series is a treat for any fan of ‘The Wheel of Time.’ It also features strong female characters, echoing the powerful women in Jordan’s series.
3. ‘The Broken Empire’ by Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence’s ‘The Broken Empire’ series is a dark, gritty epic fantasy with a morally ambiguous protagonist. It’s a stark contrast to the traditional hero’s journey and provides an intriguing exploration of the darker side of power and ambition.
4. ‘The Malazan Book of The Fallen’ by Steven Erikson
‘The Malazan Book of The Fallen’ by Steven Erikson is notorious for its complex plot and expansive world-building. With a vast array of characters and cultures, it’s a series that requires some dedication but is rewarding for those who appreciate intricate, epic narratives.
5. ‘The Inheritance Trilogy’ by N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin, the first black author to win the Hugo Award for best novel, has a number of epic fantasy series under her belt. ‘The Inheritance Trilogy’ is a blend of political intrigue, personal growth, and divinity, all set in a richly diverse world. Her work is known for its representation of various races and cultures, and it provides fresh perspectives in the epic fantasy genre.
6. ‘The Poppy War’ by R.F. Kuang
‘The Poppy War’ trilogy by R.F. Kuang is an epic fantasy series grounded in the history and culture of 20th-century China. The series’ protagonist, Rin, is a dark-skinned war orphan who battles systemic racism and gender discrimination. Kuang’s exploration of war, religion, and power dynamics, paired with her complex characters, makes this a must-read series.
7. ‘The Books of Pellinor’ by Alison Croggon
‘The Books of Pellinor’ by Alison Croggon is a four-book series that follows the journey of a slave girl who discovers she is the key to overthrowing an evil regime. The series’ complex magic system and rich world-building make it a compelling read for any fan of ‘The Wheel of Time.’
8. ‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ by Samantha Shannon
‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ by Samantha Shannon is a standalone epic fantasy novel, a rarity in the genre. With a matriarchal society, dragons, and a richly built world, it’s a fresh take on epic fantasy. Shannon’s story is a page-turner that’s as intricate as any series, and it’s perfect for those who want a complete story in a single volume.
9. Chronicles of the Black Gate’ by Phil Tucker
Phil Tucker’s ‘Chronicles of the Black Gate’ is an ambitious and riveting series filled with magic, warriors, and gods. It combines high stakes, multidimensional characters, and intense battles that will captivate any fan of ‘The Wheel of Time.’
10. ‘The Riyria Revelations’ by Michael J. Sullivan
Michael J. Sullivan’s ‘The Riyria Revelations’ series is a tale of adventure, friendship, and overcoming odds. With an endearing pair of thieves as its main characters and a world brimming with magic and political intrigue, it’s a series that’s both heartwarming and exciting.
These series all offer something unique for fans of ‘The Wheel of Time.’
Whether it’s the intricate world-building, diverse characters, or complex plots, these books will keep you engaged and entertained.
So, grab a cup of tea, find a comfy chair, and lose yourself in these great titles!
Explore the rise of epic fantasy across literature, TV, film, video games, and music. Discover how this genre has revolutionized popular culture.
We’re about to embark on a thrilling ride through the expansive realms of epic fantasy.
It’s been said that we’re living in a golden age of this grand genre, and as we venture from literature and video games, to television and film, it’s hard to disagree.
The past decade or so has brought with it a resurgence of epic fantasy that would make even the most hardened orc shed a tear of joy.
This period, brimming with magical creatures, intricate world-building, and complex characters, has heralded a revolution in how we consume and perceive this genre.
No longer confined to dusty tomes enjoyed in candle-lit, wizard-themed bedrooms, epic fantasy has soared on dragon wings, spreading its influence far and wide across popular culture.
Today, it’s as common to hear chatter about the latest dragon-slaying escapade on the commute as it is to discuss the weather.
In this thrilling expedition, we’ll delve into the staggering impact of epic fantasy on our books, TV shows, films, video games, and music.
So, pull up a chair, summon your beverage of choice, and join us as we embark on this fantastical journey.
An Explosion of Fantasy on the Bookshelves
First, let’s pay a visit to the realm of literature. It’s hard to talk about epic fantasy without tipping our hats to the unstoppable force that is Brandon Sanderson.
Sanderson churns out novels with the same speed that a poorly trained wizard casts fireballs (and with far less collateral damage). His “Stormlight Archive” series has given us a world so epic it makes the Himalayas look like a minor inconvenience.
Then we have the fantastical work of N.K. Jemisin and her ‘Broken Earth’ trilogy. Her powerful prose and intricate plotting rocked the literary world. Not only did she bag the prestigious Hugo Award for each book in the trilogy, a first for any author, but she also managed to subtly weave poignant social commentary into her lore. She has, quite literally, redefined the landscape of fantasy.
And, of course, there’s George R. R. Martin. His ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, a veritable ‘War and Peace’ of Westeros, continues to delight and horrify us in equal measure. (Of course, this mention is contingent upon the long-awaited sixth book ‘The Winds of Winter’ ever seeing the light of day. No pressure, George, but the kettle’s been on for a while now).
And Sarah J. Maas burst onto the scene like a unicorn on roller-skates with her ‘Throne of Glass’ and ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ series. (I always want to see what A Court of Guns and Roses might look like, but after this year’s Glastonbury performance it might not be the best idea). Maas’s enticing mix of fantasy, romance, and strong female leads has inspired a new generation of readers to pick up the mantle and read past their bedtime.
A New Chapter: Indie Heroes of the Epic Fantasy Realm
If the corporate publishing landscape is akin to a neatly trimmed English garden, then indie publishing is the wild, untamed forest just beyond, rife with the unknown and bursting with possibilities.
With the rise of the digital age, an ever-growing crop of talented wordsmiths have bravely ventured into this wilderness, bestowing upon us a treasure trove of self-published epic fantasies.
Leading the charge is none other than Michael J. Sullivan with his ‘Riyria Revelations’. If you’ve not had the pleasure, Sullivan’s series offers a refreshing brew of classic high fantasy with a generous dash of modern sensibility. His dynamic duo, Royce and Hadrian, steal more than just gold.
Then there’s Anthony Ryan, who exploded onto the scene with ‘Blood Song,’ the first book in the ‘Raven’s Shadow’ series. Ryan’s tale, as gritty as a winter’s day in Grimsby, is proof positive that you don’t need corporate backing to win over fans. His success caught the attention of Penguin Books, who re-published his work, thus transforming this self-published gem into a mainstream marvel.
We mustn’t overlook Will Wight’s ‘Cradle’ series, an ingenious blend of epic fantasy and xianxia (a Chinese genre focusing on cultivation of moral and spiritual virtues). As innovative as a solar-powered teapot, Wight demonstrates the creative liberties of indie publishing, delivering tales unfettered by conventional genre expectations and marketing executives.
Amanda Hocking, the queen of paranormal romance, took a leap into the epic fantasy genre with her ‘Trylle Trilogy.’ Hocking proves that when it comes to indie publishing, not even the sky’s the limit. Why stop at the sky when there are entirely new worlds to explore?
Of course, indie publishing isn’t as easy as a Sunday morning lie-in. It requires the tenacity of a determined terrier and the entrepreneurial spirit of Richard Branson.
These authors aren’t just writing, they’re also acting as their marketers, and, on occasion, therapists.
It’s a challenging path, but as our highlighted authors prove, it can lead to rewards as satisfying as the perfect biscuit dunk.
A Feast for Our Telly Boxes
Shifting our gaze from ink and paper, let’s flick on the telly and cast our eyes towards the fantasy genre’s successful infiltration of the small screen.
Let’s start with the behemoth in the room, or rather, the dragon on the screen. ‘Game of Thrones’ gave fantasy television a jolt stronger than a double espresso on a Monday morning. George R. R. Martin’s deliciously intricate storylines, coupled with HBO’s willingness to shell out more gold coins than Smaug’s treasure hoard, resulted in a series that captivated a global audience and redefined fantasy on television.
Not to be outdone, Netflix threw its hat in the ring with ‘The Witcher,’ based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s series of novels. Henry Cavill’s portrayal of the grizzled Geralt of Rivia became an overnight sensation, as did his catchy tune, ‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.’ Who knew monster hunting could have such a rousing soundtrack? The series adeptly balanced monster-of-the-week plots with a grand overarching narrative, and the production value was higher than a gentleman’s top hat.
Amazon, too, is keen on joining this magical melee with its ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel series and the adaptation of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time’. Between you, me, and the lamppost, these ambitious projects are about as secretive as the Queen’s pudding recipe. Yet, the mere whiff of these beloved epics getting the screen treatment has fans twitching with excitement.
Fantasy TV has indeed proven itself as popular as a dog in a park full of squirrels, much to the delight of book lovers everywhere. The magic of these sprawling epics, replete with dragons, witches, and an alarming number of medieval political squabbles, has found a comfortable new home in our living rooms. Just be sure to keep your remote handy – there are endless worlds to explore, all from the comfort of your favourite armchair. What an age to be a fantasy lover, indeed!
A Silver Screen Spectacle
Just as the heartiest English breakfast isn’t complete without a slather of HP sauce, our tour of the golden age of epic fantasy wouldn’t be whole without a tip of the hat to its cinematic counterparts.
With bated breath, we’ve watched our favourite realms spring to life, one painstakingly rendered CGI dragon at a time.
First off, we must pay our respects to the grand-daddy of them all – ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Peter Jackson’s masterful adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic saga broke records, hearts, and the established notion that “those fantasy tomes are unfilmable, old chap.”
Following in Bilbo’s furry footsteps, the ‘Harry Potter’ series proved that fantasy wasn’t just for us old-timers. J.K. Rowling’s charming blend of magic and quintessentially British boarding school life bewitched a generation, and the movies broadened that spell. Hogwarts, with its shifting staircases and genial ghosts, became as real as Buckingham Palace, just with fewer corgis and more house-elves.
Of course, not every cinematic expedition into fantasy is a skip through the Shire. Take the ‘Eragon’ film, for instance. As the saying goes, “the book was better,” and never have truer words been spoken. The film was about as well-received as a fox in a henhouse, proving that bringing an epic fantasy to life requires more than a few spells and a CGI dragon.
In recent years, Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Hellboy’ films and Duncan Jones’s ‘Warcraft’ have shown us that fantasy films can wear many hats, from dark comedy to high-stakes action. ‘Warcraft,’ though it didn’t charm critics, nevertheless proved a hit with the fans. After all, who could resist the lure of oversized armour and epic griffin flights?
These days, we fantasy buffs are spoilt for choice. Between the magic-infused majesty of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and the whimsical journey of ‘Stardust,’ it’s clear that epic fantasy is alive and well in the cineplex.
Video Games: An Interactive Epic
As we continue our magical mystery tour of the golden age of epic fantasy, it’s only proper we take a side quest into the vibrant realm of video games.
First, we must traverse the snowy landscapes of Bethesda’s ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’. With its stunning open-world design and dragon-shouting (Fus Ro Dah, anyone?), it’s been as big a hit as the Beatles. Players find themselves immersed in a world teeming with lore, dragons, and an alarming number of cheese wheels. Whether you’re bashing trolls or simply enjoying a breathtaking aurora over the mountains, ‘Skyrim’ offers an epic fantasy adventure as expansive as the London Underground, but with fewer delays.
Then there’s ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’, CD Projekt Red’s gloriously gritty adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels. As Geralt of Rivia, players navigate a beautifully crafted world, grappling with beasties and moral conundrums in equal measure. The game’s rich narrative, engaging side quests, and dynamic combat system have been lauded as more satisfying than a perfectly brewed cup of English tea. A tip for the uninitiated: Beware the drowners and always – always – play Gwent.
Let’s not overlook ‘World of Warcraft’, an online universe so compelling, it’s been the cause of many a missed social engagement. Even after several years, its allure remains as potent as a nicely matured Stilton. The intricate lore, the sprawling world, the sense of community — it’s as thrilling as a surprise holiday, but with dragons.
For those with a penchant for intricate strategy, there’s ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’. BioWare’s gem presents a world where player choices shape the narrative. Do you save the village from a marauding horde, or let it burn? It’s like being in your very own epic fantasy novel but without the risk of paper cuts.
Indeed, the appeal of these games extends beyond their fantastic visuals and engaging gameplay. They offer an immersive, interactive experience that’s as close as one can get to actually living in a fantasy realm, without the inconvenience of having to polish one’s own armour.
A Song of Ice and Fire: Epic Fantasy’s Influence on Popular Music
No grand journey through the golden age of epic fantasy would be complete without an exploration of its influence on the music scene.
The modern metal scene has been particularly bewitched by epic fantasy. Bands like Blind Guardian have entire albums dedicated to Tolkien’s Middle-earth, while others, like Burzum and Summoning, delve into the darker aspects of the genre. Their music is as grandiose and dramatic as the tales that inspired them, perfect for those moments when life calls for a bit more oomph.
And, of course, who could forget the hit TV show soundtracks? Ramin Djawadi’s ‘Game of Thrones’ score, haunting and heroic in equal measure, not only enhances the on-screen action but has found a life of its own in popular culture. You can’t swing a direwolf these days without hearing someone humming ‘The Rains of Castamere’ or ‘Light of the Seven.’
Music artists, just like authors, have seized upon the imagery, themes and mythology of epic fantasy to infuse their work with a sense of grandeur and adventure. Be it through lyrics, album artwork, or sonically through the music itself, the influence of epic fantasy reverberates throughout today’s music landscape.
And let’s face it, there’s something utterly epic about belting out a power ballad infused with references to dragon-fire and elven lore.
Beyond the Realms of Fantasy: Epic Fantasy’s Impact on Popular Culture
As our journey through the golden age of epic fantasy draws to a close, it’s time to take a step back and admire the spectacular view.
From the bound pages of a well-worn tome to the digital reaches of a role-playing game, it’s clear that epic fantasy has permeated more than just our bookshelves, TV screens, cinemas, and consoles. It has, in fact, seeped into the very fabric of our popular culture.
The surge of interest in epic fantasy has had a profound impact, like a truly magnificent cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.
Suddenly, it’s no longer the preserve of the niche and the nerdy. The age-old stereotypes associated with fantasy enthusiasts—you know, the image of a bespectacled recluse in a dragon-emblazoned T-shirt—have been banished to the shadowy corners of ignorance.
Nowadays, confessing your love for fantastical realms is as normal as complaining about the weather.
TV series like ‘Game of Thrones’ have transformed fantasy into a hot topic at the water cooler, with office chat just as likely to revolve around the latest dragon sighting as last night’s football match.
Harry Potter, that bespectacled wizard boy, has charmed our language, adding phrases like ‘Muggle’ and ‘Quidditch’ to our lexicon as easily as a ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
On the fashion front, elven jewellery and wizarding robes have sashayed from the realms of cosplay into everyday street wear.
Don’t be surprised if your next date shows up sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with a witty Game of Thrones pun or if your local fast-fashion store showcases a line of Witcher-inspired accessories.
Even our food hasn’t escaped the fantasy influence. From Butterbeer to lembas bread, we’ve developed a taste for fictional fare.
Suddenly, hosting a ‘Hobbit’-themed dinner party seems as reasonable as a Sunday roast.
And who among us hasn’t yearned to sample a flagon of ale at The Prancing Pony or indulge in a Witcher-style feast?
What this all boils down to is this: epic fantasy has transformed from a secluded genre into a cultural powerhouse.
It has become a shared language, a social glue that binds us together in our quest for the magical, the mythical, the marvellous.
The golden age of epic fantasy has spun tales that entertain, yes, but it has also fostered communities, sparking connections across borders and cultures. It’s made the world a touch more magical and a whole lot more fun.
So, whether you’re a reader, a viewer, a gamer, a self-published author or simply someone who enjoys wearing a Gandalf-inspired hat, let’s raise a glass (or rather, a goblet) to the golden age of epic fantasy.
Its influence has made our reality a little more fantastical.
Dive into epic battles from fantasy literature that changed the landscape of storytelling, from Middle Earth to Capustan. Prepare for thrill and awe.
There are few things in epic fantasy as, well, epic, as a bloody great battle.
You know the ones—those grand clashes of good and evil that make you want to lift your homemade sword aloft and shout “Charge!” into the silence of your living room.
Here, then, is our tribute to the most legendary, awe-inspiring, and tea-spilling battles in epic fantasy.
The Battle of Pelennor Fields (The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien)
Middle Earth’s most dramatic set-piece, complete with thundering oliphaunts, a witch-king, and a thoroughly cheesed-off hobbit. Seeing Theoden’s Riders of Rohan break upon the enemy like a furious sea still sends shivers down our spines.
This was a gnarly tug of war, a gruesome playground fight on a grand scale. With Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton squaring off amidst a sea of mud, blood and twisted bodies, Martin reminded us that chivalry is truly dead. And we loved every grimy second.
The Battle of Capustan (Memories of Ice, Steven Erikson)
In the city of Capustan, Erikson demonstrated that when gods interfere in battles, things tend to get messy. It was a clash of philosophies, a dance of death, a profound lesson in the human spirit’s tenacity. Who knew carnage could be so philosophical?
The Battle of the Tower (Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan)
Aes Sedai, Asha’man, and a farm boy turned messiah – it’s a classic recipe for an epic battle. And the siege of the White Tower didn’t disappoint. When Rand al’Thor declared, “It’s time to roll the dice”, he wasn’t referring to a friendly game of Monopoly.
The Battle of the Bloody Rose (The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin)
Imagine manipulating geology to your advantage in a battle. In Jemisin’s broken world, the Battle of the Bloody Rose was a seismic event in every sense, a cataclysmic clash where Earth was both a weapon and a casualty. Talk about groundbreaking.
The Battle of Adrilankha (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Steven Brust)
It’s one thing to take part in a massive battle; it’s another to try to outmanoeuvre your arch-nemesis while doing so. The climactic conflict in Brust’s Adrilankha was as much a mental duel as a physical one. Chess, eat your heart out.
The Battle of Sorrow’s End (Elfquest, Wendy and Richard Pini)
In a tale about the power of unity and understanding, the Battle of Sorrow’s End served a heart-rending climax. When Cutter’s Wolfrider clan clashed with the Sun Folk, it was not just about survival, but about the clash of ways, ideas, and the painful birth of a new world.
So, there you have it. Seven epic battles that defined and redefined the landscape of fantasy literature.
Moments of triumph, desperation, bravery, and the odd existential crisis, all rolled into one.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to reforge our shattered nerves and refill our tea.
It’s exhausting work, watching all that carnage.
Let me know in the comments which fantasy battles are your favourites.