Fantasy with well developed magic system

#23
Ok, what I consider the best magic systems in the fantasy world:

  • Wheel of Time:probably the most well-developed of any magic system I've yet read. And it should be with 13 massive books in the series. Jordan was pedantic about building the fundamental rules of the magic system into a rigid, well developed set of rules.
  • Master of Five Magics: Very detailed breakdown of a magic system; almost mathematical in the way the rules are laid down.
  • The Name of the Wind: Kind of reminded me of Master of Five Magics in a way. Different Magic Schools of study, some precise rules (especially the Sympathetic magic system which reminded me of Master of Five Magics)
  • A Man of His Word series by Dave Duncan: Awesome magic system based around a magic word that when spoken grants power to the user. The more the word is shared, the less power that word has as more users share that same power. Creates a world of scarcity where a select few are keeping magic words secret. Words are extremely rare and the people who have them are extremely poweful. The more words you collect, the more powerful you become. One word and you become very gifted in something. Two words and you become an Adept -- supremely skilled at one task (master swordsman, fighter, etc). Three and you become a mage. Four words and an all powerful sorcerer. This is a highly underrated series that most people have not read
  • Mistborn: Allomancy is one of the more interesting magic systems created in the fantasy landscape. Sanderson is very precise in the way he lays the whole magic system down with the consistent rules of what can be done and can't.
  • The Black Prism & The Blinding Knife: Color magic and completely unique -- I've never read any other fantasy book that has a magic system like this. It isn't fully developed until the second (AWESOME) book, but lots of details, lots of internal rules, and some seriously powerful people.
  • The Rune Lords: Another very cool magic system where you steal the power of others and add that power to your own. Very precise set of rules. I can't say I enjoyed the series as a whole, but the magic system is very well done.
  • The Warded Man: Demon Magic, diagrams, and wards. A detailed magic system that's, for the most part, internally consistent.
  • The Stormlight Archive: so many magical elements here with a great and fascinating magic system. It seems like there are multiple magic systems with ninja battle sorcerer like guys, knights with magical armor that gives them super human abilities, magic fairy creatures that bestow power upon users, ancient gods and evil demons. But only one book in, so we don't know how everything yet connects.
  • The Wizard of Earthsea: another epic fantasy with a good magic system that's internally consistent. A high emphasis placed on the COST of using magic and the entire plot of the last book is based on the cost of the protagonist's use of magic.
  • The Rithmatist: Another Sanderson magic system, and one that's very mathematical and precise.
  • Mazalan Book of the Fallen: It's complex and takes books to figure out what's going on. But that complexity and the vast rules of warren magic make this a very detailed magic system. It's just not easy to understand what the hell is going on.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Treats magic kind of like a scientific field of study where it is possible to learn it if you understand the basic rules. Very well done, but the book is slow and many people who appreciate huge magical battles and calling fire from heaven ala Jordan might find themselves bored with the details. It isn't until near the end of the book where you start to see real powerful magic thrown around that can shake cities.
  • Mordant's Need by Stephen Donaldson: Mirror magic. A skilled imager can open a portal to infinite worlds. Sounds old and worn idea wise but Donaldson does some awesome new things with it.
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman: A fantasy that subverts fantasy. One of the best fantasy books I've yet read (even if it's unappreciated) with an interesting magic system that's very detailed in the application and study of it.
  • Harry Potter: a good set of rules that govern the magic system.
  • The Magic of Recluse: another fantasy series with a quality magic system. This one divides magic into two sides: order and chaos with both being fundamentally apposed to each other. Practitioners on each side tend to have certain personalities and usually end up in conflicts. A heavy emphasis on the price of magic. You can perform great deeds but at extreme cost to your health.
  • A Spell for Chameleon: a kind of funny magic system that's pretty consistent. It's a system of magic where everyone (except the protaganist) in born with an innate magical talent that could be extremely powerful to as something as useless as making dots appear on the ground. I don't like any of the other books in the series, but this was the first and best of the Xanth series and it was pretty entertaining

  • Intrumentalities of Night: already mentioned by someone but one of the more fascinating magic systems. Kind of assumes the world was a place of darkness ruled by powers of the night. Those powers can be harnessed by talented people. Hard to explain but a fascinating concept.
  • The Coldfire Trilogy: a very interesting magic system that's based on a world where your imagination creates reality. Only a few very powerful people who can control and shape their mind are able to master their environment.
  • The Darkness That Comes Before: Magic Systems of sorcery and a sort of Monk-style learned teaching that allows you to control people around you by reading what they do. Very cool
  • Full Metal Alchemist (anime). I thought I'd throw this in there too. This amazing anime really has one of the most well developed magic systems I've yet seen.
  • The Deathgate Cycle: Very D&Dish, but the magic system was pretty well done, very precise and pretty damn cool.
  • The Black Company. Interesting magic system with some rules that govern it. It's not as detailed as some of the others, but it's interesting to read about. The focus is not so much the magic system though but rather on a company of mostly regular mercenaries fighting to survive in a hopeless war between the forces of good and evil, with them being stuck squarely and unhappily on the side of evil.
I've read some of these, but not nearly all of them , this will probably give me loads of new books to read, thanks! :D
 

The_Wanderer

A farm boy with a sword
#24
I've to say my two favorite magic systems at this point have to belong Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy and Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles.
 

chemicalximbalance

A farm boy with a sword
#25
Ok, what I consider the best magic systems in the fantasy world:

  • Wheel of Time:probably the most well-developed of any magic system I've yet read. And it should be with 13 massive books in the series. Jordan was pedantic about building the fundamental rules of the magic system into a rigid, well developed set of rules.
  • Master of Five Magics: Very detailed breakdown of a magic system; almost mathematical in the way the rules are laid down.
  • The Name of the Wind: Kind of reminded me of Master of Five Magics in a way. Different Magic Schools of study, some precise rules (especially the Sympathetic magic system which reminded me of Master of Five Magics)
  • A Man of His Word series by Dave Duncan: Awesome magic system based around a magic word that when spoken grants power to the user. The more the word is shared, the less power that word has as more users share that same power. Creates a world of scarcity where a select few are keeping magic words secret. Words are extremely rare and the people who have them are extremely poweful. The more words you collect, the more powerful you become. One word and you become very gifted in something. Two words and you become an Adept -- supremely skilled at one task (master swordsman, fighter, etc). Three and you become a mage. Four words and an all powerful sorcerer. This is a highly underrated series that most people have not read
  • Mistborn: Allomancy is one of the more interesting magic systems created in the fantasy landscape. Sanderson is very precise in the way he lays the whole magic system down with the consistent rules of what can be done and can't.
  • The Black Prism & The Blinding Knife: Color magic and completely unique -- I've never read any other fantasy book that has a magic system like this. It isn't fully developed until the second (AWESOME) book, but lots of details, lots of internal rules, and some seriously powerful people.
  • The Rune Lords: Another very cool magic system where you steal the power of others and add that power to your own. Very precise set of rules. I can't say I enjoyed the series as a whole, but the magic system is very well done.
  • The Warded Man: Demon Magic, diagrams, and wards. A detailed magic system that's, for the most part, internally consistent.
  • The Stormlight Archive: so many magical elements here with a great and fascinating magic system. It seems like there are multiple magic systems with ninja battle sorcerer like guys, knights with magical armor that gives them super human abilities, magic fairy creatures that bestow power upon users, ancient gods and evil demons. But only one book in, so we don't know how everything yet connects.
  • The Wizard of Earthsea: another epic fantasy with a good magic system that's internally consistent. A high emphasis placed on the COST of using magic and the entire plot of the last book is based on the cost of the protagonist's use of magic.
  • The Rithmatist: Another Sanderson magic system, and one that's very mathematical and precise.
  • Mazalan Book of the Fallen: It's complex and takes books to figure out what's going on. But that complexity and the vast rules of warren magic make this a very detailed magic system. It's just not easy to understand what the hell is going on.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Treats magic kind of like a scientific field of study where it is possible to learn it if you understand the basic rules. Very well done, but the book is slow and many people who appreciate huge magical battles and calling fire from heaven ala Jordan might find themselves bored with the details. It isn't until near the end of the book where you start to see real powerful magic thrown around that can shake cities.
  • Mordant's Need by Stephen Donaldson: Mirror magic. A skilled imager can open a portal to infinite worlds. Sounds old and worn idea wise but Donaldson does some awesome new things with it.
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman: A fantasy that subverts fantasy. One of the best fantasy books I've yet read (even if it's unappreciated) with an interesting magic system that's very detailed in the application and study of it.
  • Harry Potter: a good set of rules that govern the magic system.
  • The Magic of Recluse: another fantasy series with a quality magic system. This one divides magic into two sides: order and chaos with both being fundamentally apposed to each other. Practitioners on each side tend to have certain personalities and usually end up in conflicts. A heavy emphasis on the price of magic. You can perform great deeds but at extreme cost to your health.
  • A Spell for Chameleon: a kind of funny magic system that's pretty consistent. It's a system of magic where everyone (except the protaganist) in born with an innate magical talent that could be extremely powerful to as something as useless as making dots appear on the ground. I don't like any of the other books in the series, but this was the first and best of the Xanth series and it was pretty entertaining

  • Intrumentalities of Night: already mentioned by someone but one of the more fascinating magic systems. Kind of assumes the world was a place of darkness ruled by powers of the night. Those powers can be harnessed by talented people. Hard to explain but a fascinating concept.
  • The Coldfire Trilogy: a very interesting magic system that's based on a world where your imagination creates reality. Only a few very powerful people who can control and shape their mind are able to master their environment.
  • The Darkness That Comes Before: Magic Systems of sorcery and a sort of Monk-style learned teaching that allows you to control people around you by reading what they do. Very cool
  • Full Metal Alchemist (anime). I thought I'd throw this in there too. This amazing anime really has one of the most well developed magic systems I've yet seen.
  • The Deathgate Cycle: Very D&Dish, but the magic system was pretty well done, very precise and pretty damn cool.
  • The Black Company. Interesting magic system with some rules that govern it. It's not as detailed as some of the others, but it's interesting to read about. The focus is not so much the magic system though but rather on a company of mostly regular mercenaries fighting to survive in a hopeless war between the forces of good and evil, with them being stuck squarely and unhappily on the side of evil.
I bookmarked this page because this list is so good!
 

John Borders

A farm boy with a sword
#26
I like the Chronicles of Amber, with the interplay between Order and Chaos creating the entire universe between. The logic was fairly consistent, and the introduction of sorcery and even an AI in the second series was smooth.