The Magic series of Ilona Andrews is well known for bringing new life to old concepts and no where is this more true than in magic itself. Unlike other novels with this mystical element in it, the magic series has made it as much about culture as it is about hurling fireballs, and no where is it better seen than in the third novel.
In Magic Strikes, Kate Daniels has to enter the Midnight Games–a pre natural fighting tournament–where magic and magical creatures are as thick as thieves. Here are some of them as well as their origins.
Lamia was a queen in Greek mythology who–according to one story–was a lover of Zeus and turned into a monster who hunts and eats children by Hera. While usually described as a woman, later adaptations described her as having a serpents tail below the waist. As the myth evolved, lamia became a generic description of creatures who were similar to vampires and succubi, seducing men and feeding on their blood.
In Magic Strikes the lamia is most similar to the later myths, being serpent–like. Unlike those myths. it seems to lack a large degree of intelligence and is a magic welder, not just a creature of magic.
Originating in Japanese mythology and a popular character depiction, they are usually shown as humanoid monstrosities with sharp claws, crazy hair, and two long horns jutting from their head. Red and blue skin is the most common, but they can be any color.
In Magic Strikes the Oni follows its traditional portrayal, particularly in its physical aspects. It’s described as being dimwitted and rather difficult to take down.
Fu Lion (China)
Originating in China and most often called a Foo Dog, the Fu Lion bears no mythological origin and are a representation of the lion in Imperial China, traditionally standing in front of imperial palaces, imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the home of government officials and the wealthy. They were believed to have powerful, mythic benefits.
In Magic Strikes, the Fu Lion is an actual create with a degree of intelligence and a frighteningly impressive array of teeth.
In Norse legends they were beings that dwelled in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, lived in small family units and are generally unhelpful to people. It wasn’t until the later Scandinavian legends that they became individuals that weren’t Christianized, lived far from and war considered dangerous to human beings. Trolls were seen as either ugly and stupid, to took human appearances based on the region.
In Magic Strikes, the troll follows the legends of ugly and stupid. And considering that it appears in a fight to the death tournament, I’d considered it dangerous to humans as described in the Scandinavian legends.
Having magic in a novel is always interesting and I certainly enjoy its traditional portrayal. However, by tying magic, culture, and the creatures it produces together, Ilona Andrews has managed to create an interesting and diverse world.
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no artistic claim to it.