I am hugely excited to be on the Mario Routi blog tour, partly because one of my readers is about to win a Kindle (which, let's face it, is pretty cool!) but mostly because Mario has AMAZING taste in wizards - and saves the best until last in this fab post!
The 5 Greatest Wizards of All Time by Mario Routi
Since childhood, I have always been intrigued by wizards. As a fantasy writer, I know that the genre would not be the same without them. Wizards even haunt other genres, in the form of wise people imparting sage advice, or characters with seemingly inexplicable powers. However, it is in fantasy that wizards flourish the most, wielding extraordinary powers while trying to remain true to themselves.
Wizards come in all shapes and sizes. They could be wise men guiding heroes on their quests, or heroes themselves, trying to get by with a fumbling grasp of magic and quite a bit of luck. But in all their guises, wizards continue to fascinate me. Their ability to wield magic and power is balanced by great responsibility, and this delicate balance lies at the heart of great characters.
I like all wizards: the good, the bad, and those who just don’t know where they stand. However, my favourite wizards are wise, or if they cannot be wise, kind. They are thoughtful, carrying great weights on their shoulders as they balance duty and love, right and wrong. And in honour of all the wonderful wizards that exist, here is a list of my top 5:
One of the greatest and oldest wizards of all time, Merlin still persists in the popular imagination, inspiring writers and scriptwriters to keep bringing him back to our books and screens. Entwined with the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin is an archetypal figure, the wizard that serves as a template. He is a great magician, and yet he is also human and fallible in his capacity as advisor to Arthur. He reminds me when I write that no amount of power can solve all problems. And perhaps, as some legends suggest, he lives on still.
J.R.R. Tolkein’s great wizard is now, thanks to Sir Ian McKellen’s now-iconic interpretation, famous all over the world. Yet I discovered Gandalf long before, reading my way through Tolkein’s works as a boy. Gandalf, old and wise, helps the characters in the Fellowship and in the Hobbit as often with cunning and intelligence as he does with magic. Wisdom, not magical ability, is prized above all else. Gandalf stands as a counterpoint to Saruman, testament to the fact that character, not magic, renders a wizard good or bad.
While some might argue that Harry Potter is a greater wizard than Dumbledore – being the Boy Who Lived and all – I would disagree. Dumbledore is the wise teacher who guides Harry through his years at Hogwarts, who always knows more than he says, and who allows Harry to become such a great wizard himself. And who can forget a wizard who only wants socks for Christmas?
Angie Sage’s boy wizard is really more an apprentice than a full wizard, as he goes through his ExtraOrdinary Wizard training in his signature green robes. Together with his pet dragon Spit Fyre, Septimus has many adventures as he learns to control and use his magical powers. Yet it is his desire for family and love and his search for identity that make him so relatable, and ultimately such a great wizard.
Raistlin, from the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, is both a protagonist and an antagonist: he straddles the line between good and evil, and yet remains an intriguing character throughout. His weak health might make some question him as a great wizard, but Raistlin proves all his doubters wrong, using his intelligence and magical abilities to pursue power. And Raistlin is so fascinating because, despite turning to evil, he holds true to a code of honour that makes us rethink the simplicity of villains. Even evil wizards can be great.
To celebrate the publication of Rebecca Newton and the Last Oracle, I have a brand new kindle and a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader in the UK. To be in with a chance of winning, simply tweet your answer to the following question to @yayeahyeah and @MarioRouti using the hashtag #RebeccaNewton:
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