Magic in Paksenarrion’s World

Posted: December 19th, 2008 under Contents.

In Paksenarrion’s world different groups of characters have different kinds of magic–nobody has it all, and many people have none.

The sources of magic remain a mystery except for wizards’ magicks–a learnable, teachable technology.    The Elder Races are sure such magic as they have is part of their created nature, and consider their own gods responsible for it.  Magelords, the only humans with inborn magical ability, have variously believed the abilities came from their ancestors through normal inheritance, from the gods originally, or from specific techniques taught by a given deity.   Paladins believe their patron or their patron’s god grants the powers, and Kuakganni believe the green world grants theirs.

The difficulty for a writer inventing magic is to put the limits of such powers where they’ll do the most good for the story–and where readers can suspend their disbelief long enough to enjoy the story.  Many readers like (and many dislike) the very thought of magic in a story.   Multiple magic systems may seem more complicated, but also allow for constraints that help define different character groups.

For instance, the two Elder Races of Earthfolk have innate magery–part of their essence–but theirs is limited to specific places and materials.   Dwarves and gnomes can do things with stone no one else can do,  but have no magic touch with “the green blood”–with plants or with most animals.    Though a dwarf may be individually charming, he will not be able to charm (in the magical sense) a human.

As shown in the story “Gifts,” Earthfolk are traditional guardians of dragons’ eggs because of their ability to magically interact with stone.   (Dragons in the egg are somewhat sentient, at a low level, and seek to find hosts in which to grow and transform.   They cannot invade Earthfolk.)

The Sinyi (elves to most humans) and their estranged cousins (iynisin or kuaknom)  have innate magical abilities with living things–not with stone or objects once made of wood but now “dead.”   Elves use their magic to make things healthier, stronger, and to shape them to growth the elves find beautiful.  Kuaknom, who bitterly resented the “treachery” of the One Tree’s appreciation of a human’s song (the first Kuakgan) have turned against living things and use their magic to harm.

Magic in humans ranges from the Old Human talents (“green thumb” and “granny magic”)  to the magelords’ far more spectacular abilities.  These are inborn, natural to the individual in which they appear.  They may be greater or lesser, just as individuals differ in physical strength, eyesight, and other physical characteristics.   Though some training is involved, the ability is always there unless blocked/locked by something or someone.    The magelords at their  peak possessed enough power to cause themselves major trouble.   By Gird’s day, many had no power left; others had only a few of the original abilities.  By Paks’s day, Girdish teaching is that the only innate magical powers left are not really innate, but the result of following evil gods who lend their followers power.   That’s not entirely true–there’s still real magelord magic around, but it’s been in hiding a long time.

Wizards are a different kettle of fish–part scholar, part engineer/inventor.   A wizard needs no innate magical talent, but does need intelligence, creativity, and a good memory.   Much of their “magic” is indeed smoke and mirrors (or the equivalent)–a  change in appearance, not reality.  But over centuries, they have produced a body of knowledge that includes actions equivalent in actual power to those produced by individuals with innate magic.   They have invented devices that can store specific actions and release them on command (almost never safely by a lay-person but by any wizard), though careless or dishonest wizards produce inferior devices.   (The ineffective fireballs in the story “Bargains” are an example.)   Since a wizard spends years learning his/her craft, at personal expense and effort, wizards don’t  give it away and are perceived as less moral and greedier than elves.   A spell or a magical device, like a machine, acts as designed, within the limits of its quality and the care used in construction.

Paladins’ magic powers are grafted on–gifts from their patron (saint or deity) and used with permission and guidance.    They’re limited to a few specific areas such as making light, protecting others from paralyzing fear, healing, and discerning the truth.   Paladins cannot magically turn stones into bread or reeds into fish; they don’t fly through the air or walk through walls.   The other talents needed for a paladin are nonmagical, shared by many others than paladins.  Others are also charismatic, honest, brave, etc.


  • Comment by AnthonyA — May 16, 2011 @ 5:46 pm


    Just found this blog, and am catching up with the old posts.

    I agree with a previous poster, the fact that there were different types of magics, that could be used by different races, and not necessarily eqally, really helped me to enjoy the books that much more! Also, it was nice to see magic naive characters able to fight against those with strong magic by using their wits and skills (Paks vs. the posessed elf lord).


  • Comment by elizabeth — May 16, 2011 @ 9:59 pm


    Glad it worked for you, Anthony.

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