One of the things I liked about Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, and also most of Tim Powers’ fantasy novels, is that magic is either difficult to do or it imposes a heavy cost on the magic user. This has the advantage of making magic less than all-powerful and therefore means the author cannot easily use magic to get out of plot difficulties.
What fantasy novels in this category, where magic is not easy to use, have you particularly enjoyed?
The 1939 Retro-Hugo Awards were awarded this month. The five nominees for best novel were:
The Sword in the Stone, T. H. White (Collins)
Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis (The Bodley Head)
Galactic Patrol, E. E. Smith (Astounding Stories, February 1938)
The Legion of Time, Jack Williamson (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1938)
Carson of Venus, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Argosy, February 1938)
The winner was The Sword in the Stone, which was of course the first installment of The Once and Future King. The Once and Future King happens to be the first fantasy novel I ever read, and I can still remember the huge impact it had on me.. For this reason it’s impossible for me to judge such a book dispassionately, although I will note that when I re-read it some years later I still loved it.
So what do you think of these awards? Do you think The Sword in the Stone was a worthy winner?