Tough Travels: Awesome Displays of Magic

tough travelsSo I’m participating in this week’s Tough Travels meme again – hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, this is one great way to explore Fantasyland and create lists, YAY! Don’t forget to go and check out what other participating bloggers have put on their lists – my tbr expands every week because of them! :)

This week’s going to be grand because we’re looking for AWESOME DISPLAYS OF MAGIC: Sometimes magic can be subtle but here we’re looking for things that go BANG! 

Let me just say… I’m not a huge fan of epic epicness. This goes for worldbuilding as well as action itself – not that I don’t like an action-packed story but I prefer my magic with a cost and all that. BUT! I do love a good bang sometimes and these examples are a testament to the fact that anything is possible in fantasy.

  1. harry-potter-deathly-hallowsThe Battle of Howgarts from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I think this is the most epically epic scene from HP (rivaled, perhaps, by the visit to the Hall of the Prophecies (or whatever it’s called)). It’s crucial and important and SAD and really well done. Minerva McGonagall is the best. That lady has style.
  2. The Gandalf + Balrog scene from LOTRMy memory of this is severly tainted by the movie version but I still think breaking the bridge of Khazad-dûm counts as awesome. I’d run like hell if faced with a flaming beast so kudos to Gandalf for staying put and protecting the others.
  3. That cage thingy that half-dragons make in Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. SPOILER ALERT!! Well, the basics of this type of magic are known in the beginning of this sequel to Seraphina – when half-dragons link their minds, they can create a shield that can withstand a dragon attack. Its span depends on the strength and number of the half-dragons. The most important demonstration of this comes along right at the end of the book and nearly causes a massive disaster that would result in huge numbers of casualties on both human and dragon sides of the war.
  4. daughter-smoke-bone-laini-taylorSirithar from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. This is a state of complete focus and clarity that Akiva sometimes achieves (I can’t go into the triggers because it would spoil everything) and it’s usually followed by devastation of some sort. It’s not something he can control and he basically knows nothing about it, but it’s pretty damn powerful.
  5. Claire’s trip to the past from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I know there were no explosions involved and that it took Claire a while to realize what had happened, but time travel is pretty darn awe-inspiring (I guess I could include any number of time-travelling books here? Or portal fantasy?).
  6. I’m relatively certain there were a number of cases where Rand from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series did crazy things but I’m sad to say I can’t remember the specifics. There was the test in the Aiel desert, there was the shiny sword thing, and a number of others. Hell, the magic users in that series managed to break the world. That deserves a mention, though why they wanted to do that escapes me.

I know this topic is probably better suited to lovers of epic fantasy (not that I don’t like epic, I just have my doubts about epic epic fantasy – gah, I’m not making sense anymore, am I?), but I hope these suffice.


Which amazing achievements of various witches and wizards have I forgotten to include this week? What would you add to my list?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    These were all great examples of magic (and I’m intrigued by your mention of Laini Taylor’s trilogy…) but I don’t think that awesome magic must be confined to epic fantasy (or epic epic fantasy, either… ;-) ). Sometimes the awesomeness can come from pretty “normal” settings too…

    • Naw, I know – the items from my list are, I think, testament to this – but I was mostly referring to series like Wheel of Time or Sanderson’s books where characters can do *anything* and are really badass and such without much cost to their magic. I like a more quid-pro-quo magic system, is all.

      • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

        I know what you mean: heroes who can go from total obscurity to moving mountains – so to speak – are difficult to sympathize with. Paying some price for your magic, or your actions in general, has a truer ring to it, agreed.

  • Gandalf vs Balrog is definitely awesome. And I loved your vague Wheel of Time reference – that’s basically how I felt when I was making my list… I know Rand did stuff… impressive stuff… but what did he do again?

    • Yeah, I got stuck with Book 6 in Jordan’s series. I actually preferred Perrin to Rand, too – I never quite got why not one but THREE smart, gorgeous women wanted to be with that – what was it? a wool-headed idiot? :)

      • NO KIDDING. What did they see in him?? I have absolutely no idea. Perrin would have been a much better catch. Or Mat. Or anyone else, really.

        I made it all the way to the end, but it took three tries and a lot of having to look stuff up on wikipedia so I could remember who was who.

        • Perrin <3 He's so strong and silent *swoons* (not really but I just got to the wolf parts and it was starting to get interesting). I'll get back into it one day soon, I think, because I've been missing epic fantasy recently and Jordan is about as epic as I can manage.

  • Lynn Williams

    I love your number 1 – such an excellent example of great magic. I just sort of roughly included J K Rowling without really giving examples – nice pick.
    And I like that you included Outlander – which reminds me to go and check out the series.
    Thanks :D

    • Sharing Outlander love is like my second job :) Have you started watching it yet? Or do you just need to catch up?

  • bookwraiths

    Wonderful list! I really need to try to start over with Wheel of Time and finish it. I recall some great magic being within its pages, but it has been so many years now that I can’t remember them in detail, which is really sad since I loved the first five books or so.

    • Thanks! :)
      “first five books or so” –> that’s as far as I got, actually. I have my bookmark stuck in the middle of Book 6 but I fully intend to tackle it someday soon. I may have to find a recap version of the story before I jump back in.

  • Hehe. Your WoT choices. I know that something happened, but…

    I had a couple of those myself.

    • The more I think about these books, the more I realize what book amnesia really means. And with this series, which has so many plotlines! Gah.

  • Thanks for the spoiler warning for Shadow Scale, I’m about to read it! I’ll be watching for an awesome display of power ;-)


    • Oh, cool! (But what if you don’t find it as awesome as I did?)

  • Laura @ Half-Strung Harp

    Lovely list! I really must get started on Wheel of Time, but feel like I should finish some of the other series I have on the go first. :D

    I love that you included both HP and LotR – I’m ashamed to say I didn’t think of either one this week, which must be heresy or something, right? I really need to get back to my HP re-read and re-visit the Battle for Hogwarts. Damn right McGonagall is a badass, but who would’ve thought Molly Weasley is too? :D

    • Well, 14 900-page books is a huge undertaking. I only got to book 6 and I got stuck there (I’ve been stuck for more than a year now, I think). I hope to unstick myself soon :)
      Molly Weasley’s fight with Bellatrix was SO COOL! I love how the most (stereo)typical stay-at-home mom got to be a badass fighter, too! :)

  • I’m very much the same as you, not necessarily a lover of epic fantasy. I like more intimate situations:-D But you have some great examples. I’m kicking myself for not including Harry Potter my post this week!

    • Thanks, Tammy! :)
      Yeah I like character-driven fantasy much more than showing off!

  • Wonderful examples of magic – I’m ALWAYS partial to Harry Potter, LotR and DoS&B :D I still need to read Outlander, The Wheel of Time and Seraphina though but I own the books and seeing them here^^ got me even more pumped to read them! Great post!

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    • Thanks, Micheline! :)
      I try to include HP and DoS&B everywhere I can, I lovelovelove those series! I’m thinking of re-reading HP at the moment, but I have so many other books to read… We’ll see!
      As to the other three you mentioned, I’d start with Seraphina :) Though Outlander is cool, too, but it’s huge (as is The Wheel of Time).

  • I’m with you on the not really being as into the awesome displays as I am into the subtler kinds of displays which is probably why I couldn’t think of enough to join in on this topic! Good call on Claire being sucked back in time in Outlander – that’s certainly impressive magic. For that matter maybe Narnia being in the back of a wardrobe would have worked on a list!

    • Yeah Narnia would have been a good example of portal fantasy. I don’t particularly like those book but they’re a classic. I’m not sure if this type of magic counts, though, as it’s not some character’s doing but rather a special place that has magic… Eh, well, I included it anyway.
      Some weeks I struggle as well, but I like this meme and going around the blogs – but when I have trouble coming up with examples, I enlist my husband’s help :)