What role would magic play in history?
As many of you know, I review digital ARCs through Netgalley and I’m grateful for that. I love being able to see what’s gonna be coming out on the market. I also enjoy not having to pay for bad books. :p Speaking of bad books, I’ve read a couple lately and, while that’s not strange, the similarities between said bad books is.
You see, both bad books are historical fiction. Not just that, but they are altered history because of magic historical fiction, which sounds cool, right? Well, I thought it did. Now granted, I failed history class. I have no idea when Queen Victoria was alive or when the Austrian-Hungary empire was a thing or when the renaissance was big in Italy, but I would suspect I shouldn’t have to know when these things happened, right? I mean, these stories now have magic in them!
While these stories do have magic in them and are placed within our actual history (some undefined point for me given my lack of knowledge), they seem unaffected by the magic. There are still classes who are more defined and regal than the rest. Those with magic wield it and lord it over others. The same exact societal prejudices and rules are still in affect. In short, magic has changed NOTHING!
Are you kidding me? You took the time to research a period in history and re-create it only to… what? Just throw a little magic into the mix? You really think nothing would change if magic had been a real thing at that time? You really think the same types of people would have been in power if magic had existed? You really think that a plot exists simply because there’s suddenly magic in the real world?
Okay! Okay. *deep breath* *exhale* What I guess I’m really trying to get at is the lack of imagination these authors seem to have when they place magic into our history. I mean, magic can do anything! It only needs to follow the laws you, the writer, set for it. So, why are you wasting it’s potential by mirroring the same aristocracy and prejudice that existed in that time? Your options are literally endless and you just… squander it on a story that would have been the exact same without magic.
Still, I think what gets me the most when reading these stories is the limited use and build of the magic within these stories. In traditional fantasy, magic is an entity all unto itself. It’s like a whole other character in the story. That’s how much emphasis it gets, but in these historical fiction pieces, the magic is just… an after thought. It’s thrown in at the last second, hardly explained, used even less, and yet is supposed to be the basis of a plot. Magic isn’t a plot, people. Magic is a piece of the world and the world forms around it.
Though, maybe I’m wrong. I did fail history, after all. So, maybe I don’t truly understand the impact that magic could have had on our history and society. Or perhaps my modern, new-age opinions have clouded my ability to appropriately assess the past for what it was. Maybe some prejudices would have existed whether magic existed or not.
What do you think?
Leave your thoughts in the comments!
And check out my discussion from last week: