One of my favorite things about reading magical fantasy is seeing how the author puts together a magic system. A magic system is more than just a way to explain how magic works: it’s an integral part of the tale that strongly influences the sociology of the story world and the motivations of the individual characters.
Today, Marsha A. Moore is stopping by to share her magic system with us here on the Vaetra Files. I met Marsha through the Magic Appreciation Tour, and I’m glad I did. I love reading her “Tea Leaf Tales,” which she publishes regularly on her blog. If you enjoy magical fantasy and like reading the work of a truly imaginative mind, check out Marsha’s books and her blog. You’ll be glad you did.
Thank you, Daniel, for inviting me to be your guest today. I know you and your readers love magic. Here’s a glimpse into how I created the magic of my world:
The Magical System of my Enchanted Bookstore Legends
by Marsha A. Moore
My series, Enchanted Bookstore Legends, has two main worlds, reality and a parallel fantasy world called Dragonspeir. The organization of magical power and leadership in that land was inspired by the balanced system of the four Chinese elements of creation: earth, fire, water, air. Chinese mythology ties those elements to sacred animals that foretell future events. The unicorn is supposed to spring from the center of the earth as the phoenix represents fire, the tortoise water, and the dragon air.
For my legends, I selected those four animals as the four Guardians who collectively govern the Alliance. That is the realm of Dragonspeir which is good and fair, opposing the Dark Realm led by the Black Dragon. When my heroine, Adalyra McCauley opens an enchanted book she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to work with those Guardians to save the Alliance from attacks by the evil Black Dragon.
The unicorn represents the earth element. From times of the Ming dynasty, the unicorn was specially praised its ability to discriminate between good and evil. It would gore only the wicked with its single horn. Emperor Shun, the first law-giver, employed a minister who had such a beast in his court to do just that. My Guardian Unicorn is very powerful and a tough character, a sort of bad-ass, but fair to a fault. He judges whether Lyra is ready to begin her quest.
The phoenix, a legendary bird with brilliant colors, lived more than one life. It consumed itself by fire periodically, and a new young phoenix sprang from the ashes. In Chinese mythology, the phoenix symbolizes fire. Within its spirit, the Feng Hwang bird contains the balance of the solar Yang and the lunar Yin powers. The phoenix is called the Empress because it represents qualities of beauty and peace. I titled my Phoenix Guardian as the Lady of Peace, appearing only during happy times. She presides over the Meadow of Peace, a quiet collection of villages in the Alliance territory.
The third animal, the tortoise or turtle, represents water and was thought to be a model of the world. Its upper shell curved like the vault of the heavens, its lower shell flat like the Chinese envisioned the Earth at that time. They read the future in the pattern on the tortoise’s shell. The animal is perceived as a symbol of longevity and wisdom. My Tortoise Guardian is in charge of keeping the history of Dragonspeir for the Alliance. He commands a vast library of records and magical documents. He is instrumental in preparing Lyra for her quests as well as offering guidance when she creates her own written accounts after completing those tasks. As a Scribe, she alone can imbue magic into text that increases the power of the Alliance.
The dragon, the fourth prophetic animal, was a divine creature that signified wisdom and represented air. For centuries, it was the imperial emblem. The emperor’s throne was called the Dragon Throne and his face was called the Dragon Face. It was said that when an emperor died, he ascended to heaven riding on the back of a dragon. The celestial dragon, T’ien Lung, is sometimes represented as holding up the sky. For these reasons, in the Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I gave my Imperial Dragon the title of Head Guardian. He serves as a wise leader, coordinating the actions of the other three Guardians. In charge of the air element, he is expert in the magic craft of mystic astronomy, reading and gaining power from the stars by using an array of unusual instruments. He teaches Lyra to use many of his tools that use power from the stars and sky.
Additionally, astrological signs are grouped in a similar manner, according to their dominant elements of earth, fire, water, and air. In my books, residents of Dragonspeir who inherit magical tendencies must learn to utilize their dominant element in order to control and develop their abilities. Lyra, like all Scribes, is born under a fire sign and must learn to communicate with the main star of the Aries constellation—her birthmate star—in order to utilize her vast powers. This is awkward and she must work hard to master the techniques.
These four animals and the elements they represent were believed by the Chinese to make up all of creation. The realm of the fantasy world in the Enchanted Bookstore Legends that is good and fair embraces this balance. From this foundation, I was inspired to include many more ties to Chinese mythology that guide magic in my Dragonspeir. Read more about those in my Enchanted Bookstore Legends: Seeking a Scribe (book one), Heritage Avenged (book two), and Lost Volumes (book three).
All of Marsha’s books are available on Amazon.com:
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Her creativity also spills into watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transforming into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and already addicted. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and that spiritual quest helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!
Visit Marsha’s Blog “Illusions of Intimacy” to learn more about Marsha and her writing.
Thanks for sharing your magic system with us, Marsha. I’m fascinated by how you extended oriental legends to create your own mythos. I’m sure the “Enchanted Bookstore Legends” are an excellent read!