My Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
This novel by Lyndon Hardy was copyrighted in 1980 and is a Del Rey book published by Ballantine Books. It was also my first real foray into the world of fantasy. Okay, that isn’t entirely true, as I had watched many cartoons as a kid, but this was the first time I had read a full novel on my own just for fun. It is, to me, a true classic and every couple of years I pull it out of its alcove and read it again.
In the story, Alodar is looking to win the hand of the Queen to restore his family’s name. Along his journey, everything that could go wrong essentially does and this unfortunate traveler winds up delving into all five of the known Magics of the Realm. Normally, a person only experiences one form of magic, or rarely two, so to become knowledgeable in all five forms of magic is an unreal feat.
What always gets me in the tale is the logic tied to each form of magic. All five magics are bound by laws and they do not overlap. The Thaumaturge must adhere to the Principles of Sympathy and Contagion; the Alchemist is bound by the Doctrine of Signatures, and so on. That logic always fascinated me because I had never seen that before in fantasy — and to this day, it is still seemingly rare.
When I saw the animated Hobbit, Gandalf was this cryptic wizard who could just come and go at will, summon eagles, bring fire, and he always seemed to know more than he let on. There weren’t any real limits or restrictions to what he could do. Perhaps he was unfamiliar with moon letters, but in terms of magic, it was implied that his skills were widely varied and that that was normal.
In Alodar’s world, the magic was succinct. The Sorcerer could see across distances or entrance the mind. The Magician could enchant objects through complicated rituals, and the Wizard could summon demons through fire with the sheer force of his will. They were distinct from each other.
This has always influenced me. It drew me to science, for there I could learn the logic behind “magical” things in our world. Most stories I write need a logical connection in terms of magic. Without that logic, then why couldn’t my characters just summon a horde of beasts on whim? Well, they really can’t, can they?
And I have Lyndon Hardy and his world to thank for that. Ever will I esteem his work. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a copy, give it a read. It may not resonate with you the same way that it does with me, but it’s at the core of my writer side. If you can’t find the book itself, you can read about it in more detail on Wikipedia.
And no… I will not loan you my copy. That stays with me. Always.