Five Favourite Wizards – Guest Blog by Stephen Aryan
Battlemage is an epic fantasy story where overt magic is front and centre, with powerful men and women able to change the very course of the war that has swept across a large part of the world. It is influenced by many modern and classic fantasy novels and I wanted to share some of my influences, in the form of five of my favourite wizards.
I read A Wizard of Earthsea at a fairly young age and Ged’s journey is one that always stuck in my mind. In some ways his story sounds familiar to modern audiences (even though the book was written in the 1960s) where a young boy from nowhere goes to wizard school but where it differs very quickly is that Ged makes a terrible mistake at an early age. It reshapes the rest of his life, it scars him in many ways, and he spends years trying to understand what he did and how to make amends. After reading other stories where the farm boy became the hero who saved the world, or he was the chosen one, it was fascinating to read about someone more human who failed. Ged picked himself up and tried again and kept trying, which for me is more human and more relatable than a hero from prophecy who has a destiny.
Harry is a powerful wizard. He’s cocky, he speaks when he should button his lip. He’s insolent to those in authority and he makes mistakes. So despite the magic, he’s one of us. As a reader I might not be able to relate to what he can do, blow up buildings and hurl around huge amounts of magical power, but I can understand him as a person. I know why he does certain things, even if I might have used a little bit more tact in the same situation! But that’s all part of Harry’s charm and as much as I love the adventures in this series of books, and the amazing cast of characters, it’s Harry that I adore the most.
Belgarath the Sorcerer: The Belgariad by David Eddings
Although I read The Hobbit around the same time, Belgarath made more of an impression on me as a young boy. While both he and Gandalf are grumpy old men, Belgarath was a family man who was not only a teacher, but also a father and a grandfather. He was fighting because it was the right thing to do, but also because there were personal stakes. Looking back on the Belgariad novels, I think they are simplistic when compared to modern fantasy novels, but they are still rewarding in many ways. Despite his faults, of which they are many, Belgarath is still a good man trying to help. He serves as a reminder that there really are selfless people out there like that in the world who do good every day.
Unlike the others I’ve mentioned so far, Raistlin is more of an anti-hero. Right from the beginning you knew there was something dodgy about him, and no matter how much love he showed for his brother, in his own awful way, you knew he always had his own agenda. While physically weak, Raistlin was always incredibly powerful in magic and this was the first character I read with that kind of juxtaposition. He would push himself beyond anything his body could endure and would keep doing it because his ambition was so great and nothing would stand in his way. Not his family and not his frailty.
Zatanna has been a mainstay of the DC Comics’ universe for decades. She’s been a member of the Justice League and has fought alongside the big three Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. A retcon made her a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who learned escapology from her father, another stage magician like her who also had real powers. The character has been to some pretty dark places but has also been a light and funny character bringing some much needed humour and a deft touch to some situations. Zatanna has appeared in comics, several animated series, video games, on TV in Smallville and perhaps, if the Justice League Dark film ever makes it to the silver screen, in the cinema.