Top 5 Wednesday – Favourite Magic Systems

“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes in which you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic. This week’s topic is favourite magic systems.

“Kathy, why do you have like a thousand shelves on your Goodreads?”

Well, readers, I have them for moments like this. Because god knows I can barely remember the names of characters from books I read a week ago, let alone the ins-and-outs of their magic systems. So I had to go through my “interesting magic system” shelf to joggle my memory.


1. Unsounded – Pymary


There are many reasons why Ashley Cope’s Unsounded is currently my favourite western comic series (and one of my favourite fantasy series–of any media). Aside from complex characters and insanely rich worldbuilding, it also boasts a fascinating, dynamic magic system that’ll have you waving your hands and squinting real hard at some random object on the off chance that maybe–maybe–the magic’s a real thing (no luck yet).

Here’s a quick rundown of how pymary works: the story’s continent, Kasslyn, rests on top of a spectral plane called the “khert” which governs every material and non-material thing that exists in this world. Pymary is the art of “speaking” to the khert to manipulate–condense, reassign, switch, isolate–physical properties of objects which include density, colour, pressure, temperature, contour, and so forth.

So wrights (pymary-users) can take the heat of a campfire and use it to incinerate an enemy. Or condense all the pressure of a waterfall to create the biggest KABOOM. People also use it for cosmetic purposes–like taking the scent of a rose and assigning it to their pet pooch.

It’s super exciting, the possibilities are endless, and I freaking love the balance of it. Do yourself a favour and go check out this webcomic.


2. Mistborn – Allomancy

Mistborn - Kelsier vs Inquisitors

While I adore the complexity of the Stormlight Archives magic system, there’s something about Mistborn’s Allomancy that’s incredibly attractive, addictive, and…marketable (kind of like the Maria Sharapova of fantasy). Maybe it’s the idea of using coins to fling yourself through the air. Maybe it’s the romanticism of quaffing down vials of metals to prepare for a big battle. Maybe it’s just my bird-brain seeing the list of Allomantic metals and going, “Ooh shiny!” Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that this is one hell of a magic system.


3. Manifest Delusions Series – Geisteskranken


I love magic systems that reflect and feed off of the characters’ psychological state, and Michael Fletcher’s Manifest Delusions series is the prime example of this. In this world, mental disorders shape reality. If you believe there are doubles of you running amok in the world, then there really are doubles out there. If you believe that the figure you see in the mirror is a whole other person with their own personality, then yes, they actually are.

The stronger your delusions, the more powerful your abilities; the more you slip away from reality, the more you can shape it. It’s twisted, dark, and the sheer imagination of it floors me.


4. Realm of the Elderlings Series – Skill and Wit

assassin's Apprentice2

The magic in Hobb’s series is predicated on the idea that there’s this massive, powerful life-force that flows through, over, or beneath the world. It allows the living people to use its energy to perform various “magics” using the Skill or the Wit or some bastardized form of both. With the Skill you can do things like heal and communicate over long distances via thought. With the Wit you can communicate and form bonds with animals. It’s much more complicated than this but I’ll avoid spoilers and just say that there’s a lot you can do with these two magics.

This is the least flashy system on the list, but it’s one that feels the most natural to me–like, I can very easily see it existing in real life. It’s also the only magic system on the list that plays such a huge role in character development. And I find that absolutely incredible.


5. The Chanters of Tremaris Series – Music Magic

the singer of all songs

This is probably one that none of you have heard of. It doesn’t have the most exciting magic system (at least, not by today’s standards) and I’m not sure how the series holds up as an adult, but it was the first fantasy series I read that introduced the idea of music magic, and I loved that. You never quite forget your firsts.

If you happen to be one of the rare creatures who have read these books, come find me. Close your eyes and turn thrice widdershins under the light of a full moon. And when you find yourself in an unmarked stretch of forest, walk around and lose yourself for a while. Eventually we’ll convene at the roots of the ancient white oak where we’ll spend the night drinking the nectar of gods and singing praises of this series.

Or I can yell-gush about it with you over the internet. I’m good either way!



And that’s it from me! What are some of your favourite magic systems?

Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Non-Written Novels

“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes, where you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic.

This is my first post for rewind month and my chosen topic is: Favourite Non-Written Novels (comics, manga, audiobooks, etc). I’m going to cheat a little here and showcase five of my favourite graphic novels and five of my favourite manga. Because choices–they’re hard.

Graphic Novels


  • Saga (Written by Brian K. Vaughan; Art by Fiona Staples):
    Hands down the best scifi graphic novel out there.
  • Descender (Written by Jeff Lemire; Art by Dustin Nguyen):
    Think Artificial Intelligence (the movie) but not as depressing. The worldbuilding is fascinating and intricate, and the artwork is done in gorgeous watercolour.
  • The Wake (Written by Scott Snyder; Art by Sean Murphy):
    While I hate how the ending of this one-shot graphic novel was handled, the first half is just absolute perfection. It’s about a Marine Biologist who gets sent to an underwater oilrig and discovers ancient creatures that humans weren’t meant to find. It’s spine-tingling horror at its finest.


  • The Woods (Written by James Tynion IV; Art by Michael Dialynas):
    An entire highschool (the building plus the students) gets transported to a different planet on a whole different universe, and a group of teens must figure out a way to survive. It’s fun, exciting, and super super diverse. The series has also been greenlit for a TV adaptation at Syfy!
  • Unsounded (Written and illustrated by Ashley Cope):
    Unsounded has to be the best fantasy webcomic out there. Ashley has created a world that is ludicrously rich and complex and characters that dig into your heart with tenacity. There are 12 1/2 (meaty) chapters so far, and it updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.



  • Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura:
    This sweeping pseudo-historical epic spans 31 volumes and I had to restrain myself hard from devouring it all in one week. Set in an alternate 18th-century Japan, it stars a teenage girl named Rin, who’s on a quest for vengeance, and her companion/bodyguard Manji, who’s been cursed with immortality. The artwork is the beautiful balance of sensuous and violent, and the characters (especially the antagonists) are all wonderfully complex. The series took 20 years to finish (1993 to 2012), and Samura has said that he never wants to draw a single kimono ever again. And you know what? Fair enough. He’s earned a break.
  • 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa:
    Honestly, I could add all of Naoki Urasawa’s work on this list and be happy with the result, but if I must to pick a favourite, it’s got to be 20th Century Boys. It’s a coming-of-age story to end all coming-of-age stories. It’s also a part mystery, part scifi, and part superhero/supervillain story. Words can’t do this masterpiece justice. Just go check it out.
  • A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima:
    A Silent Voice gives one of the best depictions of the pains of childhood and bullying I’ve encountered in recent memory. The MC is not immediately likeable from the get-go–he’s a bully who’d tormented a deaf girl to the point of her switching schools. Years later, he’s wracked with guilt and is determined to do whatever it takes to make it up to her. It’s a hard read but a necessary one–filled with as much hope and compassion as pain and horror.


  • Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori:
    OHSHC was (and still is, in my opinion) the bar to beat for Shoujo mangas. It’s a reverse-harem story that subverts usual reverse-harem tropes. Starring the most unlikely heroine and a group of eccentric boys, this series is at once funny, charming, and heartwarming.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP:
    This was the very first manga series I’d read as a kid and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. The story just radiates with so many positive themes–friendship, love, courage, just to name a few. It was also probably my first introduction to queer characters in fiction, which is pretty wild.



Top 5 Wednesday – Favourite Jokesters

“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes, where you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic. This week’s topic is: favourite jokesters, pranksters, and funny characters.

This was a hard one. I had trouble remembering any comic-relief/jokey characters in books, let alone ones that I actually liked. The funny ones rarely stick in my mind compared to the broody, serious ones, unless their humour is some sort of well-crafted veneer hiding a mournful or sociopathic interior (which probably says a lot about me). So this is going to be a mishmash of books, film/tv, and comics.

1) Locke Lamora – The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora
I mean, every one of the Gentleman Bastards can fit into this category–you’d have a hard time eking out a living in a decrepit crime-den like Camorr without some sense of humour–but Scott Lynch saves some of his funniest lines and scenes for the star of the show.



“Know something? I’d lay even odds that between the people following us and the people hunting us, we’ve become this city’s principle means of employment. Tal Verrar’s entire economy is now based on
fucking with us.”



2) Jalan Kendeth (The Red Queen’s War trilogy by Mark Lawrence)

The Prince of Fools
Jalan is who I imagine most of us would (realistically) be if we were thrown into a fantasy world full of monsters and magic–a big resounding “NOPE” and “Fuck this.” He’s the most unlikely hero, a self-professed “coward” who rarely taking things seriously. He’s also hilarious and one of the most entertaining narrators I’ve come across.


“Every fortune-teller I ever met was a faker. First thing you should do to a soothsayer is poke them in the eye and say, ‘Didn’t see that coming, did you?”


3) Sette Frummagem – Unsounded webcomic

Sette is the protagonist of Unsounded, an epic fantasy webcomic created by Ashley Cope. As the daughter of a crime lord, she’s already well versed in the art of lies, tricks, and thievery, and her antics drive her companion, Duane, absolutely insane. Cheeky, mouthy, and utterly hilarious, she’s become one of my all-time favourite female characters.

Sette 1

Comic by Ashley Cope


4) Jonathan Carnahan – The Mummy films

Okay, so pretty much everyone in the first two movies is hilarious, even the bad guys, but Evie’s bumbling brother Jonathan takes the cake. Primarily because of this scene:


5) Jim Halpert – The Office (U.S)

And, of course, the King of Pranks himself. Jim Halpert effectively has two job titles: Paper Salesman and Perpetual Nagging Thorn on Dwight Shrute’s Side. The pranks he pulls on his deskmate make for some of the best parts of The Office, and I could watch compilation videos of them all day.

Jim Halpert Dwight

And there you have it! Feel free to tell me some of your favourites!