Sunday 9 December 2018

The Laws of Magic

The Laws of Magic

Conjuring is something the fay do in my Fairy in the Bed series. It is a kind of magic, although the fay don't think of it that way. Magic in fiction needs rules. These apply to the author as much to the characters, and they are necessary. Almost all fantasy that introduces magic has rules. For example, there might be three wishes, or magic might be dangerous, expensive or illegal. Three of my recent series employ magic in different ways.

In the Pearl the Magical Unicorn series, Pearl does magic by a variety of movements. She might shake, shimmy, stamp, toss or swish in any combination. Magic comes easily, but it takes a little time and it often goes wrong. Therefore, Pearl does have to be careful.

In the Garlands of Thorn and May series, the hillfayre do a kind of magic. The hill lord, Flynt dan Apfel, has to spill his blood to do some things. This is because he has "clod blood"; a villager ancestor. His kin sister Genista dar Whin is pure hill blood. She is one of the last, and is too closely related to the hill lord and his cousins to marry any of them. She does magic as simply as breathing. It generally has to do with plants. She doesn't need to spill her blood but she pays by being unable to spend much time out in the sunshine she loves.

In The Fairy in the Bed series, the fay, halflings and some trace fay can cast glamours (illusions) and conjure. Some fay don;t use conjuring at all. For those who do it looks like magic, but it has strict guidelines. These are practical, not moral. A fay man can conjure anything he owns or could reasonably obtain. For example, he might conjure a shirt, or a book or a quilt of his own. If he conjures something belongs to someone else, it has to be someone he knows would without hesitation lend or give him the item. Sentient beings cannot be conjured with or without consent. One man, seeing his female acquaintance combing her hair out, asked if she could conjure the tangles out. She says she can't, because it's alive. Her hair isn't sentient, or even truly alive, but it is part of her and can't be changed. Clothing is different, not being a part of the person wearing it.  The same young woman, having broken her tea-set, explains that she can't conjure her father's set because he's probably using it. Furniture can be conjured, but not if anyone is using it at the time.
The fay consider conjuring perfectly safe. As one of them observed, "If it works at all it works properly. If it won't work properly it doesn't work at all."

These rules are not a price, but they are guides which help the magical worlds to make sense. The real world often doesn't make sense. Maybe we need some magic.

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