10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (2023)

Magic rarely seems to make sense in media. The rules of magic are rarely established in film. Despite going to Hogwarts, we never learn why Harry Potter can cast spells. Despite being a central figure, we never understand why Gandalf can't summon the eagles. This is in part due to the time constraints of film, as many stories struggle with fitting in all the details of the world into a two or three hour time window. Magic laws are often left on the wayside.

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However, there are numerous books out there with intricately detailed laws and rules for their magic. These "hard magic" fantasy novels often focus on making the immaterial material. Due to rights or stalled development, these books have yet to be adapted to screen -- or at least, they were not adapted effectively. But which ones have cool magic systems?

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10/10 Dungeons and Dragons

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (1)

It would be misleading to not mention the expanded lore of Dungeons and Dragons when discussing fantasy magic systems, as D&D uses, in essence, multiple simultaneously.

Wizards learn magic from old tomes. Warlocks create contracts with unknown entities, such as fae, demons, and outer gods. Sorcerers are born with magic in their blood. Clerics and paladins channel the wills of Gods into their beings. Druids draw magic from nature. Multiple magic systems run co-currently in the world, each leading to various unique characters throughout the lore of DnD.

9/10 Godless by Ben Peek

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (2)
(Video) Fantasy Magic Systems RANKED!

Many magic systems require calling upon the powers of a God, but what happened if all the Gods are dead? In Ben Peek's Godless, the Gods are long since dead and their remains have rotted into the Earth. Should a person consume the remains of a God, they gain its powers.

The book is a morbid, dark story, but its magic system is so unique it would a disservice not to utilize it in a future fantasy adaptation.

8/10 Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (3)

Both of these series have similar enough magical systems to compare the two. In essence, both series feature individuals born with a unique set of skills. They can only cast one sort of spell, but these spells are then utilized by political powers in order to enforce certain agendas.

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In Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, the main heroine Alina can conjure light in a world of darkness. In Graceling, Katsa's Grace is believed to be the power to kill, which is used to commit political assassinations for the king.

7/10 Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (4)
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What if you could read anything from a book, and it would just come out? While more famously seen in Inkheart by Cornelia Funk, the Libriomancer series by Jim C. Hines features a world where select individuals can conjure magic by reading books. And they exercise this to sometimes remarkable results.

Want vampires? Got them. Curvy dryads? Got them too. Jim C. Hines creates the ultimate Kitchen Sink fantasy series by finding a way to incorporate anything ever written into his world, leading to predictably insane results.

6/10 Old Kingdom by Garth Nix

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (5)

Starting with the award-winning Sabriel, Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series features a world where magic is controlled by harnessing the powers of Death. The series features necromancy in a positive light, as the balance between the worlds of death and life need to be carefully balanced.

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Most notable of all is the use of bells, used to traverse deeper into the world of Death. However, go too far, and something truly abhorrent may come back with you.

5/10 The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (6)
(Video) Fantasy Does Not Excuse Impossibility - Magic Systems and Limitations in Fantasy Settings.

The Lightbringer series, starting with The Black Prism, is a series of novels where magic is dictated by shades of light. Governments and magical law are influenced by the concept of the light spectrum. Chromaturgy is a concept that allows people to channel the light into magic. While most individuals can use only one spectrum, there are a select number who can use all the colors, known as Prisms.

To elaborate, light creates a material called Luxin, which can be a solid or liquid, and is used for magical spells. Individuals sometimes attempt to channel Luxin into their bodies, often to grotesque results.

4/10 The Long Prince Quartet by Daniel Abraham

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Enchanted verses appear to be a favorite in the world of fantasy novels. The written word holds so much power. However, in Daniel Abraham's world, words can be used to entrance the Gods themselves under the influence of select individuals.

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Poets can create poetry so compelling it draws influence or even dominance over the Gods and their powers. The magic is then channeled through the Poet to enact their will. While some Gods are benign, others are entities of pure chaos, which require poets to tailor suit their verses to the needs of whatever Gods they want to ensnare.

3/10 Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (8)
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Earthsea has been twice adapted to the screen, and each time failed to explain Le Guin's poetic magic system in any meaningful fashion. Magic is relayed through the words of creation. In order to channel magic, you need only speak the True Name of all things aloud.

But it's more complex than that. You need to know the specific name. You need to name the specific winds or specific pebbles in order to make meaningful change. Mistakes or carelessness can lead to catastrophic damage, like one typo in a computer code. The series features all the potential issues that can result in tampering with forces you do not understand, including the creation of eldritch shadow creatures to the death of the afterlife itself.

2/10 The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

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The Dying Earth is one of the classics of fantasy and science fiction. Jack Vance's epic presents a slowly dying world of magic and power. In this world, there are a limited number of spells remaining. However, once cast, the spells are forgotten, forcing the magic user to relearn the spell from a dwindling number of tomes.

While not in theory too different (essentially using magic spells) it is compelling how the spells remain so rare and so difficult to use even once, putting gravity in any situation where a spell is utilized. Jack Vance's magic system was also one of the biggest influences on the original Dungeons and Dragons game.

1/10 Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

10 Fantasy Books with Unique Magic Systems (that Can't Currently Be Adapted) (10)
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Brandon Sanderson has made a name for himself by pushing for magic to have more rules. Nowhere is this as obvious as in his iconic Mistborn series. In this series, magic is conjured by digesting certain kinds of metals, which, when digested, grant the user certain powers. However, the powers are specific to how much metal is consumed. And only certain individuals can digest a certain number of metals.

While the series becomes a sprawling epic, Sanderson's Mistborn remains a favorite for both how strictly it abides by its magical rules and the incredible ways the magic is utilized without breaking any of the laws established.

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FAQs

What is the most read fantasy book in the world? ›

The Top Epic Fantasy Books
  • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. ...
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. ...
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. ...
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin. ...
  • Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb. ...
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. ...
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. ...
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
19 Jul 2020

How many magic systems are there? ›

There are 4 main types of magic systems in fantasy. The fantasy genre is one of the fastest-growing genres in fiction, and this also applies to science fiction/fantasy novels.

What is a hard magic system? ›

What's a Hard Magic System? A hard magic system is magic with a clear set of rules. In any scenario, the reader should have some sense of what magic can and can't do in the fictional world. Why is it important for a hard magic system to have rules? Well, your protagonists will use magic to solve some of their problems.

Which book is No 1 in the world? ›

Top 100 best selling books of all time
RankTitleAuthor
1Da Vinci Code,TheBrown, Dan
2Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsRowling, J.K.
3Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneRowling, J.K.
4Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixRowling, J.K.
45 more rows

What is the number 1 most read book? ›

The Holy Bible is the most read book in the world. In the past 50 years, the Bible has sold over 3.9 billion copies. It is the most recognizable and famous book that has ever been published.

What are the 9 types of magic? ›

The 9 Schools of Magic
  • 1.1 Abjuration.
  • 1.2 Conjuration.
  • 1.3 Divination.
  • 1.4 Enchantment.
  • 1.5 Evocation.
  • 1.6 Illusion.
  • 1.7 Necromancy.
  • 1.8 Transmutation.

What is the oldest magic? ›

The oldest magic trick is the lota bowl trick. While we have evidence to suggest that people were performing feats of strange magic or illusion for even longer, the lota bowl trick circa 3000 BCE is the earliest known instance of a magic trick in the modern sense.

What are the 8 schools of magic? ›

Schools of magic. There are eight classic schools of magic in Dungeons & Dragons, as originally named in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: abjuration, alteration, conjuration, divination, enchantment, illusion, invocation, and necromancy.

Is Harry Potter a hard or soft magic system? ›

Conversely, a soft magic system is one where the rules of magic aren't made explicit to the readers. Examples of this type of magic system include some of the most iconic fantasy worlds, such as The Lord Of The Rings, The Chronicles Of Narnia, Harry Potter and A Song Of Ice And Fire.

Is Avatar hard or soft magic? ›

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Avatar: The Last Airbender is a great example of a hard magic system. It follows Avatar Aang as he must learn to master the four elements and defeat the Firelord.

Is LOTR hard or soft magic? ›

Lord of the Rings is a great example of soft magic, specifically when it comes to Gandalf, and the Rings of Power. Gandalfs powers are never specifically explained, and his powers seem varied, and only sometimes useful.

What are the 7 elements of fantasy? ›

Fantasy Elements List:
  • Magic. ...
  • Unique Setting. ...
  • A Heroic Adventure. ...
  • Power Structures or Hierarchies. ...
  • Otherworldly Creatures. ...
  • Relatable Themes. ...
  • Unique Language.
7 Mar 2022

What are some good fantasy story ideas? ›

✍️ Fantasy Short Story Prompts
  • A legendary dragon is on its way to capture a princess. ...
  • A magician, a troll, and a college student walk into a bar. ...
  • A wand-maker goes to the forest ready to work, only to find a group of environmentalists camped out in front of their favorite hemlock tree.

What are the 4 types of fantasy? ›

Mendlesohn posits four categories of fantasy—portal-quest, immersive, intrusion, and liminal—that arise out of the relationship of the protagonist to the fantasy world.

What is the #1 book ever sold? ›

According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

Which is the 2nd most read book in the world? ›

The second most read book in the world is the Holy Quran. As per survey the Quran is not only most read book of the Islamic world, but it also the most recited book of all time. The Third most read book is Quotation from the works of Mao Tse –tung.

What is considered the greatest book ever written? ›

The Greatest Books of All Time
  1. 1 . In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. ...
  2. 2 . Ulysses by James Joyce. ...
  3. 3 . Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. ...
  4. 4 . One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. ...
  5. 5 . The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. ...
  6. 6 . Moby Dick by Herman Melville. ...
  7. 7 . War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. ...
  8. 8 .

What is the name of 10 famous book? ›

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

What's the closest thing to real magic? ›

Answer: Placebo effect is the answer.

What is the 4th magic? ›

To put it simply, The Fourth Magic gives its user unimaginable processing capabilities so that they can fully understand and comprehend the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe and their past and future values at any given moment.

What do you call a human with magic? ›

A magician, also known as an enchanter/enchantress, mage, magic-user, archmage, sorcerer/sorceress, spell-caster, warlock, witch, or wizard, is someone who uses or practices magic derived from supernatural, occult, or arcane sources.

What is the rarest magic? ›

1. Black Lotus (Alpha) An Alpha Black Lotus autographed by designer and artist Christopher Rush ranks as the most valuable Magic: The Gathering card of all time, fetching over half a million dolalrs at auction.

What is the actual oldest trick in the book? ›

What Is “The Oldest Trick In The Book”? | TMZ - YouTube

What is the best Grimoire? ›

The Key of Solomon is probably the most famous of all Grimoires, and the best known translation is that by Mathers The oldest of the manuscripts used by him is probably 16th century but there are however older texts, including several English manuscripts, three Hebrew manuscripts and an ancient Greek manuscript version ...

Are there only 3 wizarding schools? ›

There are eleven long-established and prestigious wizarding schools worldwide, all of which are registered with the International Confederation of Wizards.

What are the 3 wizarding schools? ›

Known wizarding schools
  • Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Scotland)
  • Beauxbatons Academy of Magic (France)
  • Durmstrang Institute (Scandinavia)

Why is Hogwarts 3rd floor forbidden? ›

History. The third-floor corridor was out-of-bounds during the 1991–1992 school year due to the entrance to the Underground Chambers, in which the Philosopher's Stone was hidden, being there, guarded by Fluffy.

What is the hardest subject at Hogwarts? ›

Arithmancy. Arithmancy was a subject that Hermione enjoyed: 'it's probably the toughest subject there is!

What is the hardest spell at Hogwarts? ›

The Patronus Charm is perhaps the most notorious difficult-to-cast spell in the wizarding world, and it's certainly the first one to come to mind for most fans. The Patronus Charm requires the caster to hold on to a moment of pure happiness—as in, they must think of their happiest memory.

Who is the weakest Avatar? ›

10/25 Weakest: Bumi

Although he was Aang's son, Bumi did not excel much as an airbender.

What is the weakest Avatar element? ›

There is no weakest element. All are virtually equal because they each have their strengths and weaknesses that effectively cancel each other out.

What was Aang's hardest element to learn? ›

The avatar often has the greatest difficulty in learning the element that contradicts their personality. For Aang, whose personality was free spirited, he struggled with the grounded aspect of earthbending.

Are elves physically stronger than men? ›

According to the Silmarillion, in the First Age Elves and Men were of like in stature and strength of body, elves had more skill and art. But it is also said that Elves were more resistant to injuries and could sustain physical efforts for longer.

Can humans use magic in Middle-earth? ›

Men and Hobbits could not directly work magic, but could make use of more or less magical artefacts made by others, such as Númenorean swords (made by Men with Elvish blood) and the Phial of Galadriel given to Frodo.

Does DND have a hard magic system? ›

A Quick introdution, there are soft Magic system and hard magic system, the easier It is to get Magic, and the more It can do, the Softer the system.

What are the 4 things a fantasy story usually have? ›

So without further ado, let's take a look at the five essential elements every fantasy novel needs.
  • A magic system. This is the element that sets fantasy fiction apart from other genres. ...
  • A well-developed setting. ...
  • A cast of complex characters. ...
  • A central conflict. ...
  • A power structure/system of government.

How do you create a realistic fantasy world? ›

How to Create a Fantasy World
  1. Use real life as inspiration. That doesn't mean taking people from existing ethnic groups and putting costumes on them—but observe how other cultures live, how they interact with their environments and each other. ...
  2. Define the setting. ...
  3. Create inhabitants. ...
  4. Make magic.
6 Aug 2021

What is dark urban fantasy? ›

Paranormal romance – set in an urban 'earth', contemporary or futuristic setting, with paranormal/supernatural elements or creatures, where the romance is the main focus, and a guaranteed HEA. Dark Urban Fantasy – set in similar worlds to the PR, but the romance is either not the main focus or not there.

What is the most popular fantasy story? ›

The Top Epic Fantasy Books
  • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. ...
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. ...
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. ...
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin. ...
  • Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb. ...
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. ...
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. ...
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
19 Jul 2020

What is the best fantasy story? ›

The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time
  • The Arabian Nights.
  • Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
  • Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.
  • Ozma of Oz by L. ...
  • Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

What are some unique story ideas? ›

Top 10 Story Ideas
  • Tell the story of a scar.
  • A group of children discover a dead body.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost.
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her.
  • A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back.

What was the first fantasy? ›

Scottish author George MacDonald, whose novel Phantastes (1858) features a young man drawn into a dream world where he has a series of adventures, is credited with writing the first plainly fictitious fantasy for adults.

What kind of fantasy is Alice in Wonderland? ›

It details the story of a young girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world of anthropomorphic creatures. It is seen as an example of the literary nonsense genre.

What is fantasy without magic called? ›

There is also a genre called "Science Fantasy", also "Hard Fantasy" (borrowing from "Hard Science Fiction", which doesn't break any laws of physics) and of course just plain "Science Fiction".

What is the best fantasy of all time? ›

The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time
  • The Arabian Nights.
  • Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
  • Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.
  • Ozma of Oz by L. ...
  • Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

What is the number 1 selling book of all time? ›

According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

Who is #1 fantasy player? ›

Top Overall - Weeks 1 to 7 (2022)
RankPlayerPoints
1Josh Allen177.0
2Patrick Mahomes II174.7
3Joe Burrow171.9
4Lamar Jackson162.9
47 more rows

What is the most complex fantasy series? ›

Complex Fantasy Books
  • The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons, #1) ...
  • Rise of Empire (The Riyria Revelations, #3-4) ...
  • Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations, #1-2) ...
  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) ...
  • The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) ...
  • The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)

What are adult fantasy books called? ›

New adult fiction - Wikipedia.

Has one piece outsold the Bible? ›

Whether it's any other manga, comic or book, none have outsold the bible, which according to Guinness World Records holds a record of 5 billion copies distributed in the world. How much of the manga series One Piece has not been translated into English?

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