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Here at WhatNerd we love magicians. We love witches and wizards, both good and bad. There’s so many of them in popular fiction that we never run out of new characters to talk about, and this huge selection got us thinking about which ones we love the best.Here are our favorites.
1. Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle)
On this site we’ve talked about Studio Ghibli every other day, and if you’ve read our list on Ghibli’s most iconic minor characters, you’ll know that we care about them an awful lot.
One of these characters that we happen to love is Howl: a wizard from the anime Howl’s Moving Castle, which is based upon a book by the same name. A beautiful, flamboyant, and flighty wizard who struck a deal with a fire demon when he was a child, Howl is utterly unable to hold down a job and terrified of commitment. He’s also deeply empathetic and emotional. When Howl runs into Sophie Hatter—a no-nonsense, uncomplicated woman—she teaches him the value of growing up. It’s very much a Peter pan scenario.
2. Merlin (Yes, All of Them)
No list of magicians is complete without at least one mention of Merlin. He’s one of our favorites because he’s the origin of the “mage” trope. Without him the fantasy landscape that we see today would be very different.
Originating from Arthurian Legend, Merlin has since popped up again in numerous works of fiction, ranging from books, games, television shows, and movies. He’s often depicted as the advisor to King Arthur, or a King Arthur stand-in. In the Harry Potter universe he’s listed as one of the greatest wizards in existence.
3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
Speaking of Harry Potter, how can we continue without mentioning Hermione Granger? Brilliant, hyper-intelligent, and a champion of social justice, Hermione is the youngest witch to make this list and probably one of the most well-known in popular culture, right up there with Merlin.
Born to normal non-magical parents, Hermione is an anxious overachiever whose innate ability with magic eventually lands her a coveted spot at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There, she soon becomes best friends with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.
4. Sarkan AKA “The Dragon” (Uprooted)
How do we describe Sarkan without spoiling the plot of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted? We guess we’d have to say that he’s an equally finicky magician similar to Howl. Like Howl, Sarkan also has his world rocked by a no-nonsense girl named Agnieszka, who comes to live with him after she leaves the local village.
Sarkan has been protecting this village and the kingdom of Polnya for many years from the evil, self-aware forest that lurks around its edges. The villagers—who have developed superstitious opinions about him—have taken to offering up village girls on a regular basis as payment for his protection. Agnieszka is one of these tributes.
Sarkan is initially deeply distrustful of this practice. This changes when Agnieszka is sent to live with him and he realizes that she has an affinity for magic.
5. Raistlin Majere (Dragonlance)
If you guys haven’t read the Dragonlance series yet, I recommend that you do. A staple of the fantasy genre during the 80s and 90s, one of the main characters of the novels is the mage Raistlin Majere—a sickly, yellow-eyed magician prone to coughing up blood.
While Raistlin is physically weak, he’s also incredibly intelligent and very resentful. The series shows how his intelligence and the ostracization that he faces due to his magic leads him down a darker path.
Looking to learn about more cool fantasy characters? Here are four epic fantasy series you should check out if you like Game of Thrones.