The best books that have the most unique magic systems

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a fiction author and minister from Upstate New York. As a young boy, I had many supernatural experiences. My earliest memory is of a supernatural basis. For me, the unseen world, and those things that others either deny exist or have relegated to ancient history and myth, have always been real to me. Reading, films, video games, and all other forms of storytelling were ways for me to experience the strange and the mysterious. What I found as I walked through such places as Middle Earth, Narnia, and Ice Wind Dale, was that the stories of these characters that overcame adversity, failures, and weaknesses to become heroes inspired me as well.


I wrote...

Death

By J.W. Kiefer,

Book cover of Death

What is my book about?

In the normally tranquil city of Binghamton in upstate New York women are turning up dead. Murder is something every town experiences, but here in the country, two in as many days is frightening. Police detectives Jared Caddrett and Dana Campbell are tasked with finding the killer, but when a mysterious FBI agent from the big city shows up, they begin to realize that something far more sinister has come to their little town. As the war between the spirits of Justice and Injustice threaten to invade the earthly realm and angels and demons battle, what began as a simple murder investigation will lead the two detectives into the unseen world that exists in the shadows, thrusting them into a supernatural war that has been raging for millennia.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mistborn: The Final Empire

J.W. Kiefer Why did I love this book?

I could populate this list with all of the books by Brandon Sanderson, but Mistborn, for me, has some of the most interesting magic systems. As a faith-based author, my own systems tend to center around deities. That is the concept that magic or power is not inherent to someone but must come from somewhere else. In Mistborn, even though the systems in a way are created by the deities that fashioned the universe, the scale of how much magic a person can use is specifically determined by their birth or race.

Moreover, there are three distinct systems in play in Sanderson’s world. All are metal based but how the metal is utilized is different in each type of system. One burns metals in their stomach to enhance physical abilities, another can put abilities into metal and then later on draw that out to enhance their abilities, and the last use metal to control others. This book is number one for me because it has three unique magic systems, where most books have just one. Three for one…you can’t beat that.

By Brandon Sanderson,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Mistborn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Brandon Sanderson - the international phenomenon who finished the Wheel of Time sequence - introduces a fantasy trilogy which overturns the expectations of readers and goes on to tell the epic story of evil overturned in a richly imagined world.

A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash…


Book cover of Furies of Calderon

J.W. Kiefer Why did I love this book?

Well, I could have chosen Dresden for this list instead of the Codex Alera but come on! Spirit-like creatures, that inhabit the elements working alongside humans, how can you go wrong? It kind of feels like Pokemon without the balls. Seriously though, it is far more than that. Each person when they reach a certain age is approached by a Fury. They bond with this fury and then they are able to use the elemental-based powers to perform various different feats. Air furies can help you fly, earth furies can give you enhanced strength, and so on. And just like many toys and games from the 80s, each type of fury is weak or strong against the other types. Air is weak against earth, fire against water, and likewise.

Yes, elemental magic is a staple in the fantasy world, but to merge it with elemental beings, that I found to be intriguing. The differing philosophy of Fury crafting that each society has is also very interesting. Some think they are simply tools to be used, kind of like pack animals. While others feel they are sentient beings that should be treated as equals and worked with rather than exploited. If you haven’t guessed, when an author finds imaginative ways to utilize the magic system, then I am hooked.

By Jim Butcher,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Furies of Calderon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14.

What is this book about?

In this extraordinary fantasy epic, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Dresden Files leads readers into a world where the fate of the realm rests on the shoulders of a boy with no power to call his own...
 
For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies—elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal. But in the remote Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help…


Book cover of The Black Prism

J.W. Kiefer Why did I love this book?

So, if you haven’t already noticed, for most of this list I have chosen the first book in a series. Let's be honest, if you read fantasy, then you know pretty much every book is part of a series. In The Black Prism we are introduced to one of my favorite magic systems. In this system, the magicians or “Drafters” are able to turn light into substance. Each color of the light spectrum has a different property. A drafter can create constructs using light. Most people can only access one color, but there are those special people that can use multiple colors, and of course, there are the select few who can use all. What I love about this system is that it is only limited to the strength and imagination of the user.

I am a big fan of systems that you have to think to use. Anyone can just simply cast a fireball, and the bigger the better, but if you have to use your imagination to apply your magic and the smarter and more imaginative you are the better, that gets me every time. Also, let's be honest, it kind of reminds me of the different Lantern Corps in DC comics and I love the lanterns. I even cosplayed as a Green Lantern and my kids bought me a silver Green Lantern ring I wear everywhere. 

By Brent Weeks,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Black Prism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a world where magic is tightly controlled, the most powerful man in history must choose between his kingdom and his son - in the first book of the New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series, one of the most popular fantasy epics of the decade.

EVERY LIGHT CASTS A SHADOW.

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.

When Guile discovers he…


Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

J.W. Kiefer Why did I love this book?

I know that this is a three-book series, but it was written as one book and separated by the publishers in order to make more money. You can buy the series as one book as it was intended to be read, so that is the book I am promoting here. Now, most people will say that Tolkien really doesn’t tell you much about the magic of Middle Earth, and I would agree. That, however, is the beauty of Tolkien. He leaves things to mystery, including magic. He lived through the early 20th century, and he felt that the world was changing too fast and that we were explaining away all of the mysteries of the universe and taking away the magic of life. To him, this was a great and terrible evil and a truly bad thing for mankind, and I agree.

In Tolkien’s world, magic is spirit and divine-based, very much like I believe it is in our world. When Glorifindel and Aragorn call on or invoke the name of Albereth we see how this mirrors Christianity and other religions that believe that the name of their deities have power.  Afterall. Middle Earth is supposed to be the older age of our world. This, for me, gives it a more realistic and lived-in feel. This is why I love it so much. We don’t actually understand all of the rules, and because of that, we are always on the edge of our seats wondering just exactly how powerful Gandalf or Sauron really are. I love the fact that he doesn’t explain everything, but we never feel like he uses his magic as a McGuffin to just suddenly solve problems that the characters can’t overcome. The fact that it feels mysterious and real is why I love the magic of Tolkien. He is also one of the greatest influences on my own writing journey, so I am biased. 

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…


Book cover of Deceived

J.W. Kiefer Why did I love this book?

Okay, if you try to tell me that Star Wars doesn’t have a magic system, then I will fight you right here and now. I mean it, I will actually fight you. In all honesty, Star Wars is sci-fantasy, not really sci-fi. I think every kid and even adult from my generation can remember trying to move something using the force. In fact, I still wave my hand in front of electric doors and pretend I am a Jedi. Oh, don’t judge me, you know you do it too. Jedi and Sith are, after all, simply space wizards. They even dress the part. Well, maybe more like space clerics, but you get the point. Why I chose this book is because I feel that it gets into a lot of discussion on how each side views the force and its applications. I am particularly fascinated by Malgus and his ideology that the nature of the force is conflict. The force is a unique magic system that we all grew up with and this book delves into a lot of the differing philosophies and that’s why I recommend it. Also, who doesn’t love the Old Republic, am I right?

By Paul S. Kemp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deceived as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars®: The Old Republic™ ramps up the action and brings readers face-to-face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order’s Dark Lords—Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular “Deceived” and “Hope” game trailers.

Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous—something Malgus would never…


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By Michael R. Lane,

Book cover of Exchange Student

Michael R. Lane Author Of The Gem Connection

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Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid reader, I read a wide variety of books. Of the fiction genre mystery and suspense remain my favorite. From the classics to the gritty, a well-told mystery is a literary gem. As my mystery palette has aged—like my taste in wine—so are my demands of what makes a good mystery novel. The best mysteries for me contain more than a serpentine journey toward the hidden truth. They have intriguing characters, crisp dialogue, interesting settings, formidable foes, and of course indispensable heroes or anti-heroes. My writing goal is aimed at achieving the same level of literary penmanship of the mysteries I enjoy reading so much.

Michael's book list on African American mysteries

What is my book about?

Daniel “Dan” Bluford is the Director of Polar City Single Organism Research Lab Facilities. A business he helped to create. The world’s leading architect of sustainable, ecologically conscious products for energy, manufacturing, water treatment, waste management, and environmental clean-up equipment. A company whose mission statement read in part, “Better environment through industry.”

Unable to stay awake on his drive home after work, the loving husband and father stopped for coffee at a familiar coffee shop. The place was empty, aside from a lone barista. A young woman with a sacred Maori chin tattoo and an infectious smile. Shortly afterward, Dan…

Exchange Student

By Michael R. Lane,

What is this book about?

Daniel "Dan" Bluford is the Director of Polar City Single Organism Research Lab Facilities. A business he helped to create. The world's leading architect of sustainable, ecologically conscious products for energy, manufacturing, water treatment, waste management, and environmental clean-up equipment. A company whose mission statement read in part, "Better environment through industry."

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