The Magic of Māvarin

Notes on Magical Systems and Practitioners in the Māvarin Novels


Māvarin is just one country in a fantasy world (an alternative Earth) where some people have magical talents, and some don't. They are inherited genetically, with specific talents sometimes (but not always) passed on from one generation to the next. A single mage (i.e., a fully trained magician) usually has two to four major talent clusters, plus the ability to use certain cross-discipline spells. According to the cultural mores of Māvarin, a person with magical ability is not inherently superior to the so-called "normals," but some Māton-trained mages disagree with this egalitarian precept.

Despite pretensions to the contrary, especially on Māton where most mages are trained and certified, magical talents transcend national, racial, and cultural boundaries. Historically, such talents were equally prevalent and equally strong in Londer, Mugal, Parsi and other countries, including prehistoric Varin. However, when Māvarin was colonized and renamed over eight centuries ago, political and cultural factors, plus the genetic makeup of the original colonists, affected both the incidence and the perception of magic in the new country's diverse population.

The original colonists came from Londer, Parsi and Mugal, an ocean away. The Londrans and Parsais were fleeing the persecution of mages by their respective governments, while the Mugalans were escaping from Londran slavers. This led to a high incidence of magic among the light-skinned Londrans and Parsais, and a lower incidence among the dark-skinned Mugalan colonists. The Mugalans who did have talent--including members of Mugalan royalty--used magic in accordance with their own ancient religion and traditions. Since the Londrans didn't understand the Mugalan rituals, they mostly ignored them, assuming they were not "real" magic. The Mugalans' descendants, as they became assimilated into Māvarinū culture, gradually forgot the old ways of magic until the original techniques were almost lost--but the talents themselves remained. Centuries later, the last of the royal Mugalans, Kengera, finally wrote down what remained of the old knowledge. She married Berdoti the Spirit Master, originator of the spirit theory of magic. Meligor, Cort, and Rani (and their otherworld counterparts) are all descended from Berdoti and Kengera Lunder.

Magic in Māvarin and the countries around it fall into several general categories:

Mātonan Magic - this is what most people in Māvarin and Māton typically think of as magic. The magic used by the Mages of Māton has changed little since Māton was founded by Danali the Great and other Londrans many centuries ago. Spells are accomplished through ritual words and gestures, or through the use of previously-made magical objects, or both. The main language used in these formalized spells is Lopartin, an archaic tongue (roughly equivalent to Latin in our reality) that is linguistically related to Old Londran.

Selmūnan Magic - is practiced exclusively by the selmūn people, one of the two ethnic groups who reached Māvarin millenia before the colonists. Their magic is largely prayer-based, devoted almost exclusively to nurturing and healing, and responsible stewardship of flora and fauna. Some selmūn techniques (but not their philosophy or approach) have been adapted and incorporated into Mātonan magic.

Monūnan Magic - is practiced by the monūn people, the other ethnic group that predated the colonization of Māvarin. Their magic tends to be object-oriented, designed to make things and processes (mining, for example) function more easily, reliably and safely. Some monūn techniques have been adapted and incorporated into Mātonan magic.

Spirit Magic - is a discredited but effective alternative theory of magic. It postulates that ritual words and gestures are nothing more than a way to concentrate the mind on the magical task at hand. A spirit mage will often omit the ritual, and use the mind to directly manipulate "spirit" (life force, energy, in some cases soul) of the mage, his subject, and the Infinite (universe) to produce the desired effect. This rather mystical approach is a fusion and reworking of selmūn attitudes, remnants of ancient Mugalan disciplines, and selected Londran/Mātonan concepts.

Objective Magic, Tengrem Magic - this is an offshoot of Mātonan magic, consisting of the use or function of magically-created or enchanted objects or creatures or plants. Mages use standard spell techniques to make a charm or amulet or talisman, or to transform a living thing. Once the subject has been imbued with the desired properties, the magical object or creature has magical abilities that function with little or no further effort on the part of the mage. (Some items, however, can only be used effectively by a person with magical talent.) Thus, a charm placed in a farmer's field can enhance crop growth for several growing seasons, a mindclear necklace protects its wearer (even a nonmagical wearer) from mindpush spells, a blackstone can be used by a mage to find a lost object, a horse with wings can fly without futher spellcasting--and a tengrem can gallop without tiring, communicate with relatives over great distances, and use other abilities that their creator "designed" them to have.

Welcome to Māvarin page
The Religion and Magic of Māvarin.
Sample scene from Heirs of Māvarin.
Sample scene from Mages of Māvarin.

Last updated: 2/26/07