Spell, Spell, Why do you work so well?

I’ve had a long running question in my mind and recently it cropped up against as I watched Merlin, the BBC show staring Colin Morgan as the young warlock. In the first episode, he does several magical actions without the use of spells. Later on though, he does both spell work and nonverbal, emotional or intent driven magic. Match this up against mainstays of modern fantasy fiction such as Harry Potter and The Eragon books, of which to be fair, I’ve only read the first one. That magic is also largely spell based, or at least word based.

What no one I’ve ever read has sufficiently explained in their world building is how these particular words activate the magic. Why those particular sounds? Why does it work?

Things work for a reason. I want to know the reason. It’s a mainstay of fantasy, much like swords, horses, cloaks, long robes and long hair.

Language does have power but it is usually in measure to the power of the speaker. Unless a spell is only to focus the users intent, in which case, why could not any language become a spell, simply by being uttered by one with inherent magical ability?

I enjoy Star Wars approach to “magic” as the Force. No spells necessary, all intent and focus.

I’m curious if anyone has come across a world where this was sufficiently explained. Spells do not take away from my enjoyment of worlds while I’m in them, but it does leave me scratching my head afterwards and there are no spells in any of my writing, because I’ve yet to answer this question to myself.

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4 Responses to Spell, Spell, Why do you work so well?

  1. aspenlinmer says:

    Great question…and I love the books/shows you refer too (merlin, HP, Eragon)…I bet we would get along with such similar tastes. 🙂


  2. Jeyna Grace says:

    Hmmm… now that is something I’ve never thought of.

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