Oct 10 2012 9:30am

Charmed, I’m Sure: Witches and Wizards from Butcher, Moning, King and More!

Charmed Season 1 castLike many of us, I've always been fascinated by magic and those who could wield it. I grew up watching Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie; I adored the comical situations these magical woman managed to find themselves in, showing that while magic was fun and entertaining, it’s not the end all solution to problems. As I got older, I enjoyed a darker storyline as on Charmed. This series follows three sisters who are the most powerful good witches of all time. Their prophesied destiny is to protect innocent lives against evil beings such as demons and warlocks. Each sister possesses unique magical powers that grow and evolve, all while they attempt to hold normal lives. The appeal was the normality of these characters. They worked, dated, mowed the lawn—no different than any other household on the block. Only, they also created spells, worked magic, and battled evil. Other shows I enjoyed that were created with witch/wizard characters and plotlines were Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Legend Of The Seeker, and Supernatural.

In literature, I find my taste in magic and fantasy runs just as dark. J.R.R. Tolkein, Terry Brooks, and Anne Bishop all feed my need for wizards and witches who walk a fine line between good and evil. Not always the nicest of characters, these characters are often thought as anti-heroes when in reality, they are merely doing what is required of them: Creating evil in order for good to triumph. More often than not, the protagonist in question is willing to sacrifice everything to save their friends, family, and sometimes the world, even when the methods they choose are not the norm.

Below are some of my favorite wizards and witches.

Cold Days by Jim ButcherHarry Dresden is the laid back sexy wizard/detective in Jim Butcher’s bestselling urban fantasy series, The Dresden Files series, an addictive noir series that combines magic and hard edged detective work. Harry Dresden is a wizard who works as a private investigator dealing with paranormal crimes and consulting for the Chicago Police Department. The series is written from Harry's point of view and there are thirteen to date with the fourteenth, Cold Days, set to release November 2012. Harry is considered a magical “thug,” but is one of the strongest living wizards in terms of pure magical strength. Due to his lack of fine magical control, Harry often uses magical objects in order to focus his power. Harry Dresden’s seductive humor and wit keeps him firmly in the driver’s seat as a number one fantasy favorite.

“Heroism doesn't pay very well. I try to be cold-blooded and money-oriented, but I keep screwing it up.”― Dead Beat

Every female reader out there knows and loves the dark, foreboding, and unpredictable Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s successful Fever series. A dangerous cursed druid thought to be thousands of years old, no one knows exactly who or what Barrons actually is. Incredibly strong and fast, his powers are indefinite and relatively unknown though he has the ability to create wards using the intricate tattoos on his body and can shapeshift into a cat-like creature. In this series, Barrons searches for the Sinsar Dubh, a dark and dangerous fae relic written by the Unseelie King, used to bury his evil deeds. Barrons needs the book in order to save his son, who is cursed like his father. He has no compulsions against using and/or destroying anyone he has to in order to possess it. Sharp as a well honed blade, The Fever series will leave you both shocked and titillated with the lengths Barrons will go to succeed.

“I wondered where Barrons was.”

There was a soft laugh, a deep, rumbling purr. “Is that what he's calling himself these days? Barrons?”

“Isn't that his name? Jericho Barrons?”

More laughter. “Is he using a middle name?”

“The initial Z.” I'd seen it on his license.

“Ah, the Omega. Ever the melodramatic one.”

“And the Alpha?” I said drolly.

“He'd probably try make a great case for it.”

“What's his real name?”

“Ask him yourself.”—Bloodfever

Insomnia by Stephen KingThe Crimson King is the evil wizard behind Stephen King’s seven volume multiverse fantasy Dark Towers series. Referred to as the crazy side of Gan (the white noise character who is responsible for creating the universe in which the Dark Towers stand) and thought to be a many times removed nephew of Roland’s, the Crimson King is the ruler of Discordia. We first meet him in Insomnia. Insane and unpredictable, The Crimson King seeks to destroy the Dark Tower, which serves as the lynchpin of time and space, destroying the multitude of universes which revolve around it so that he can rule in the primordial chaos. He is often likened to Satan, with the power of shapeshifting. Deliciously complex, this series is a generational favorite that has withstood the test of time.

“I am the Eater of Worlds.”—Crimson King

Kim Harrison’s famed Hollows series features heroine Rachel Morgan as a smart-mouthed, trouble-finding witch whose dual demon and witch birthright has her dodging both supernatural and mundane threats. Rachael is a supernatural investigator in an alternate version of Cincinnati where all manners of paranormal creatures reside arm in arm with humans. The story starts 40 years after a civil war of sorts that ends in a fear of tomatoes and tomato based products. In this ten book series, told from Rachel’s point of view, we watch Rachel practice both white (ley line) and dark (demon) magic in her quest to protect both herself and her friends and family. Filled with humor and magic, readers are guaranteed to laugh with wide eyes open at the antics of Rachel and her friends.

“All of us were damaged, but it made us stronger, maybe. Maybe it just made us more fragile.”—Black Magic Sanction

The Witching Hour by Anne RiceNo one can think about witches and wizards without mentioning Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches. Lives of the Mayfair Witches is a series of novels based on the Mayfairs, a fictional New Orleans family of witches and their connection to a spirit named Lasher, spanning several generations. There are four main novels to the series, though characters and plot lines bleed into other novels. The Mayfair Witches saga begins with Suzanne Mayfair who was the first Mayfair witch to command Lasher (a powerful familiar/demon) after waking his spirit. Lasher promised the Mayfair family wealth and power in exchange for assistance in making him flesh. Lasher believed that the Mayfair witches had the ability to bring him into the world, and secretly hoped to populate and subdue the world with his offspring. The entire history of the family is narrated in The Witching Hour and we eventually learn Lasher’s true origins and that he has controlled the Mayfair family all along. Murder and incest rests comfortably among poets and philosophers in this dark and tragic family tale.

“That was my nature - going from temptation after temptation, not to sin, but to be redeemed.”—The Witching Hour

Who are your favorite witches and wizards?


Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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Darlene Marshall
1. DarleneMarshall
Thanks for the heads up about Cold Days in November! When it comes to wizards, there's only one Harry I'd want on my side, and it's Dresden, not Potter.
Talk about strange coincidences! I've just started listening to the audiobook for Dead Beat and have been re-watching all of the Charmed episodes. I love the darker qualities in both of these series' as well. It's been a while since I read the Rice series, but the whole atmosphere in them was haunting for sure.

I think what strikes the biggest chord for me is that there are always consequences to the use of magic. I'm sure we all wanted that nose wiggling power of Tabitha's when we were younger, but these books and shows prove, time and again, that it's not as simple as it looks. Dresden, for one, has been dealing with the mother of all snowball effects in his books from actions that were meant with the best intentions.

Funny, I've been wondering what would be next once I've caught up on Dresden and Charmed, and I've heard Barrons name tossed around before, so you've pointed me in the direction of Moning's books even further. Thanks!
Mel Thomas
3. Mel Thomas
My favorite witch is Camille from Yasmine Galenorn's Otherworld. She has it all; bad ass power, style out the wazo, and a harem of gorgeous men. Camille rocks!
Becky Hantsbarger
4. BeckyIA
I've always loved "The Mayfair Witches." But I'm also a fan of the mage in Karen Miller's "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker" series. I haven't read any of the Dresden Files, but I did watch a few of the TV episodes. Once again, SyFy disappoints.
Mel Thomas
5. Bookin
I read Dresden files first and saw the SyFy version after I completed reading the series and I only saw faint resemblances between the two- WOW whatta diffrence - seems like everyone I introduced to the series becomes addicted including my 18 and 19 year old daughter and son!! Look out for the last 100 pages of a Dresden files book - you will not be able to put it down!!
Mel Thomas
6. Nuha
Seconding the Dresden Files rec! Which isn't to say the books aren't problematic (they are! Harry can be a bit of a pig, and bi ladies abound but no gay or bi men, 'kay thanks, and there are SECRET BABIES) but the best thing about them--besides the fact that they're full of over-the-top awesome moments (THE DINOSAUR)--is that it's very, very obvious that Butcher is playing a long game. He knows where he's going. He has a long-term plan, as do the scores and scores of bad guys, good guys, in-between guys, and guys like Harry, who has, incidentally, graduated from being a big fish in a small pond to a moderately-sized fish in the Atlantic Ocean. (Toe-mas is the best, by the way, even if his really compelling drama kind of recently fizzled to nothing. Really hot nothing, but nothing all the same.)

I would also recommend The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, as it filled in a niche for me that the Song of Ice and Fire books couldn't because all the rape and murder and questionable use of brown people was further burdened by rather pedestrian prose. The First Law books are just as twisted--in plot structure, socioeconomic and political systems, and character motivations--but so, so hard-edged and ruthless and wittily entertaining as well. And I'm not at all sure the resident wizard is on the side of the angels, if such a thing even exists in this world. (Plot twist: it doesn't.)
Lege Artis
7. LegeArtis
Barrons! He is certanly the biggest bad ass of them all.
Another wizard that became very interesting character is Roman, black volv from Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series. I hope we'll get that novella... He bought me with "You shall not pass!" line...
T.K. Anthony
8. TKAnthony
Some of these I hadn't heard of! But I love Harry Dresden! And in the "Oldie But Goodie" category, gotta give a shout out to Randall Garrett's Lord D'Arcy series. Alternate history with elements of steampunk, as the study of physics has taken a backseat to the study of magic. And Barbara Hambly's Silent Tower and Silicon Mage. They certainly had me spellbound!
Shirley Bennett
9. ShirlB
I do love the magical, sexy, smart mouth, action packed.. I have missed the Jim Butcher books (I have read his wife's tho! lol) - and since Cold Days is #14, and comes out in Nov.... I have time to find 1-13 and get them read by then!! I am thrilled to find a new writer!!
Mary Lynne Nielsen
10. emmel
I wonder if you'd count Kate Daniels in the witch category. She definitely has powers, but she's not happy about it. Great series.
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