East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A magic primer

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I have just delivered the last chapter of a big job to the editor, I have spent one hour revising a translation (more work on it tomorrow), and tonight after dinner I will try and write a 1500-words flash-fiction to answer an open call. Maybe.
Maybe I will just go on and follow up on my before-dinner reading.

To celebrate the closing of the big one, I have cracked open a book I have had here for a while, Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate’s The Book of English Magic, that I bought a few months back and has been here tempting me all along.

The volume covers what it says on the tin: magic, as traditionally practiced in England. No Wales, no Scotland.
Only Ye Merrie Englande and its magickal history find a place herein.

Featuring a chronological approach, the book is a weird beast, that mixes capsule biographies of famous practitioners of the mystical arts, interviews with people currently involved in magic (bot with and without a final -k), geographical pointers for those that would like to go in the field and visit the places, and a general overview of different magical practices, traditions and schools of thought.
Plus, exercises.

Yes, the book provides you with a set of exercises to try your hand at magic and related ventures – from ley-hunting to dowsing and beyond.

And while the idea of recycling myself as a sorcerer in my old age is certainly quite attractive – I might end up making more money than I ever did as a paleontologist or a writer – this is the kind of book that is a true blessing for a writer, because it is the sort of quick-and-dirty reference book that one might need to spice up a story.
Contemporary fantasy, folk horror and historical fantasy of a British bend will all benefit from a quick fix based on this book.

The style is very clear and straightforward, there’s a lot of pictures, and all in all, there are worse ways to spend two hours before dinner.
And there’s a huge bibliography.
File under research.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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