Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Top 10 Tuesday: Good Wizards

Welcome to the first Top 10 Tuesday of 2017! This week's topic is good wizards. (Note: I'm using wizard in the same way I do in the Albion books -- a general term for magic user of any gender.)

This was a surprisingly difficult list to draft. But without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my Top 10 Good Wizards:

Moiraine Damodred

Moiraine may not be the strongest or the wisest of the magic-users in Robert Jordan's 15-book epic The Wheel of Time, but she is one of the best. She guides our young heroes on their journeys, even seemingly from beyond the grave. She doesn't brook nonsense and chooses to serve the world rather than herself by finding, guiding, and protecting the Dragon Reborn instead of remaining at court. She doesn't even hesitate to take on the Forsaken, even at risk of her own life. Despite a books-long absence, Moiraine remains my absolute favorite character from this series.

The Grey Pilgrim. The White Rider. Kindler of hope. Storm-crow. He bears many names in the stories of Tolkien's legendarium. His oldest name, Olorin, is the one I love best because it speaks of his youth in the West, in Valinor, where he learned mercy from one of the Valar. He is the only one of the wizards to fulfill his mission and he rises to every occasion that presents itself to him. One of only a handful of people to be sent back to life by the Valar, Gandalf stands as a pinnacle of goodness and hope in the world of fictional wizardry.

Minerva McGonagall
a.k.a. the best professor at Hogwarts. She cares about her students in a way none of the other teachers do in the series. She believes in protecting them from unnecessary dangers, even if they don't like it (cancelling Quidditch on Oliver Wood, anyone?). She is the only registered Animagus in the series, and she's a brilliant spellcaster and duelist. But it is McGonagall's care for Harry and the others is what pushes her into my Top 10 list.

Merlin, whether the BBC version, the Sam Neill version, or the Disney version, is absolutely one of my favorite wizards of all time. I love him so much I made one of his descendants a main character in the Albion books. He's one of the reasons I write fantasy fiction and at his best he is the epitome of what fictional wizards should look like.

The initial protagonist of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, Sabriel is a young woman who isn't afraid to do what is necessary to protect her kingdom, her family, and the world. She handles even the worst of scenarios with grace and coolheaded aplomb. She defeats Dead and Free Magic creatures with the skill of an Abhorsen, a mage whose job it is to keep the Dead in Death. She doesn't let romance distract her from her quest, but she doesn't allow her calling to cut her off from personal relationships either. Sabriel is a young McGonagall in the sense of being a complete hard-core wizard while still caring about people, especially those in her charge.

Jonathan Strange
Jonathan Strange is my favorite of the two main magicians in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, if only because he doesn't deny the existence of the Raven King or make foolish agreements with strange fae. He is not without his faults. He takes longer than he should to realize his problems with his wife and he is very headstrong in ways Norrell never dreamed. But he does learn from his mistakes and he is devoted to his wife and his country.

Jack Frost (Rise of the Guardians)
I'm relatively new to this franchise (I've only seen the film and read one of the chapter books and two of the picture books -- and sadly, Jack's story is the one of those I'm still missing). However, Jack's story in the film is my favorite rendition of the character ever. It adds more poignancy than the Rankin/Bass specials and it captures the mischievous nature of the folk character while adding a layer of depth that is both unexpected and fitting to the story. For all of these, and for Jack's determination to be a Guardian, he earns a place on this list.

Harry Dresden
The Dresden Files were my first venture into urban fantasy, and while Jim Butcher is a fantastic writer, the biggest reason I have kept on with this series (and genre) is Harry Dresden. He's the stereotypical neo-noir P.I. in many ways, but he's fun to stick around with and has more hope in his heart than many of his type. He cares about the people around him, and he puts himself on the line for others, even if they don't like him. He doesn't stand for the bad guys winning. He always looks for clever ways to solve his problems and his cases. More than anything, it's his determination to save people that makes me love Harry.

Radagast the Brown
Radagast technically failed on his mission to guide and protect the Men and Elves of Middle-earth. But he loved the world he'd been sent into, and he wasn't entirely lost. He knew how to help his fellow wizards and served a purpose in the larger plan despite his smaller failures and he's sadly not in the story long enough for my tastes.

Zuko's journey from the honor-obsessed exile in the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender to the honorable prince in season 3 is one of my favorite redemption arcs in fiction. He is one of the best-written characters to ever exist and his conflicts are among the most compelling in the series. He does more than reverse his course. He grows into the person he was always meant to be.

Honorable Mentions:

Toph Beifong
The most powerful Earthbender in the world.

Newt Scamander
The Hufflepuff hero we've been waiting for.

The stubborn, vain, and surprisingly lovable Welsh wizard.

*All images found via Pinterest.


  1. I love Howl, though he's a touch less likable in the sequels. But if you like him, have you read the Chrestomanci books?

    1. I've read the first two books in the Chrestomanci series (loved them, too), and I have all the others on the shelf (except the short stories) waiting to be read. I need to dive in and finish them!

      Howl was a bit less likable in the second book, but I think that was because we weren't really living with him the whole time like in the original. Besides, it wasn't really Howl's story. ;)

    2. True. Frankly, I almost forget he was in the 2nd. The third, though - if I was Sophie...


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