Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Master of the Five Magics (Magics, #1)” as Want to Read:
Master of the Five Magics (Magics, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Master of the Five Magics

(Magic by the Numbers #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  5,067 ratings  ·  118 reviews
To master five greats arts of magic and win a queen was not enough for Alodar the apprentice. He must do what no man dared!

Alodar was a mere apprentice thaumaturge, learning the least of the five great arts of magic. As such, he had no right to aspire to the hand of the fair lady, Queen Vendora, not even when he saved her during the demon-inspired siege of her frontier ca
Mass Market Paperback, 373 pages
Published October 12th 1980 by Del Rey (first published 1980)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Master of the Five Magics, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lyndon Hardy Pwruch
I am glad to see your question. I have been away from writing for quite a while (over 25 years!), but have recently decided to get my…more
I am glad to see your question. I have been away from writing for quite a while (over 25 years!), but have recently decided to get my triloogy available in an eBook format. This will take me some while, but I have started working on it.

Lyndon Hardy(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,067 ratings  ·  118 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Master of the Five Magics (Magics, #1)
Manuel Antão
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1980
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Maxwell's Demon: "Master of the Five Magics" by Lyndon Hardy

(Original Review, 1980-10-02)

Just out from Del Rey is MASTER OF THE FIVE MAGICS by Lyndon Hardy (who "became interested in fantasy while wandering through the fringes of fandom as an undergraduate at Caltech"). My skepticism was challenged by the cover blurb's claim, "one of the most logical detail of the laws of magic ev
Douglas Milewski
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
The Master of Five Magics (1980) by Lyndon Hardy sits at that annoying place between being a good and a bad book. The book itself tells the story of Alodar, who desperate wants to be a suitor to the Queen, so that he can restore the fortunes of his once noble heritage. In doing so, he tries each magic.

The structure of the story is rather fun, with the early parts of the book acting as independent stories, and the later part acting as a single story. The episodic breakdown worked out rather
Michael Jandrok
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Somewhere in the latter part of the '80s I was working summers in the maintenance department at the residence halls at the University of Houston, where I was an anthropology major. One day I wandered over to the carpentry shop to grab something, and found Rick the carpenter dude finishing up this book. He and I liked to talk books, and he ended up giving me that battered little paperback copy of “Master of the Five Magics.” I read it over the next few days, enjoyed it, and then pretty much forgo ...more
Jun 05, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: sf-fantasy
I rail (if only to myself) when I see "extreme" reviews (1 or 5 stars) without any accompanying explanation, and I'm certainly no saint in this regard (in my defense, I've been pretty good about making some comment on books I've read since joining GR). So, where and when I can, I'll try to "justify" my more extreme ratings:

In re the volume in question - it's dreck, and boring dreck. Even after nearly 30 years, I remember this book with loathing. The idea of a "science of magic" is fine bu
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
One of my favourite fantasy series, it works because the underlying principles have been properly thought out and are then explored in interesting ways. Sure, the actual "world" is nonsense - it has no real internal logic, and the basic geography, history, economy and society are merely place-holders, but that's because the whole thing is suborned to the discussion of how a viable "magic" system could work without it becoming simply a crutch to support society. So we get alchemists who have to m ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this back in the early 80s and almost loved it....between 4 and 5 stars, I decided not quite 5 but close.

Follow Aldor as he on his "quest" (which could be said to change) as he gathers knowledge of the 5 schools of magic, mastering each as he progresses. Aldor, spurred on by his "love" for the queen, seeking to become, Archimage...will he make it?

Okay it's an old line, but it's a fun book. I found it right after the Magician Apprentice etc series. I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoyed
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is the 1st book in an early 1980's epic fantasy series. Typical of the day, it is action and story driven with a protagonist easy to identify with. Characterization is sparse, but that doesn't really matter. It was the nature of mass market fantasy in 1980. It is an easy, smooth read. Its plus is an investigation of different types of Magic. I enjoyed it and a hero who never gives up.

6 of 10 stars
Pam Baddeley
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I approached this book not knowing whether I would enjoy it on this re-read as I first read it years ago. I did still enjoy it but not as much as I recall; however, that was a positive as I was doubtful at first. The beginning seemed far more muddled and difficult to envisage re what the protagonist was doing - this apparently was the author's first published novel and he certainly had taken onboard the advice to plunge straight into action. Alodar is trying to raise a gondola into the air to ta ...more
Ελευθέριος Κεραμίδας
The writing leaves much to be desired. The dialogue is very bad, some descriptions are hard to follow, most characters are sketchy, the protagonist's thoughts are needlessly drawn out and his decisions over-explained. And also many minor grievances such as anachronisms or syntax inversions that sound weird instead of pompous.

However, this is a must read, a bold book that you need to read if you want to know what fantasy is and what it can be. All five types of magic invented by the a
Doc Opp
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Its been a long time since I read this series, but my recollection was that the first book was excellent, and the other two were just ok. The first one in particular has some very creative ideas that I haven't seen elsewhere, and was a very well written and engaging story.

Update: I just reread the book. In retrospect the book had some really elegant ideas, but there were also some pretty serious plot holes. Still, a fun read and a pleasant way to pass an afternoon.
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
Maybe 2 1/2 stars, to be fair. Rounded down for disappointment!

The author's preface (or whatever one calls a preface when it shows up at the end of the book) was very illuminating. He admits spending the Vast Majority of his time on working out the details of his magic system, and comparatively little time on plot and characters, and it certainly shows.

The characters have no character whatsoever--the main character especially so. He's a bit of a Mary Sue, except that he's
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I'm a semi-lapsed fan of both Megadeth and epic fantasy, but I couldn't resist picking up this book when I saw it on sale at a bookstore near Candolim during my Goa holiday. I finished it in a day, at that, which is more a testament to how much it is fantasy junk food than any great merit it possesses. Hardy has expended a touching amount of effort in creating a detailed system of magic and indeed some of it is quite effectively depicted. The settings and characters are stock figures and the pro ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent fantasy story. Very interesting take on magic and it's uses and the cause and effect of things, looking forward to reading the next 2 books in the trilogy. Very recommended
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
A bland tale more concerned with establishing (at length) the rules of not one, but five separate magic systems than with fleshing out characters or strengthening the plot.
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The excellent discussion of various magical systems makes for a fun read.
One of the most interesting takes on a world with multiple magical systems, each painted in exquisite detail and well developed; in a world where it is believed you can not learn more than one type, the protagonist must learn them all, following a mysterious ancient legacy of clues designed to save the world from peril. Along the path, he must gradually combine what he learns, to both continue on his journey of ever-increasing peril and to overcome the large number of rather powerful antagonists ...more
Joe Stevens
This is a quirky book which I both enjoyed and at points disliked and so tough to review. Added to this I thought I remembered having read and enjoyed it when I was much younger, but it isn't the book I remembered. Also I used to have the first edition in paperback around somewhere and can't find it now to compare first and second editions.

So with some confusion I read through this series of six connected novels published as a novel. The theme of a young man learning the various fant
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was a great idea for a fantasy novel, but I'm afraid the execution wasn't good. I enjoyed it as a kid, but I can't recommend it in good faith.

This review sums up my feelings perfectly

I do want to take the opportunity to highlight my favorite part of the book. It's literally the end of the book, so I'll put it in a spoiler section:
(view spoiler) ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I had no idea it was the start of a series, and having never read the other books, I can only judge this one as a standalone. This book plays out like a bunch of short stories as the protagonist jumps from job to job, repeatedly doing everything right but never getting his due, but just like a well done Mary Sue story, his natural intelligence and cleverness results in him triumphing over everyone when it coincidently turns out that all his hard work might be important after all.

The characters
Paul Calhoun
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hovering between 3 and 4, and decided to bump it up to 4.

Would I call it a masterpiece of worldbuilding, plot development, and characterization? No. Would I call it a couple hundred fun pages of someone power leveling on a well defined and logical magical system and then kicking someone's butt? Yes. If I'd read this when I was in my early teens, it would have been one of my favorites. A bit older, I have fun and put it down. I might buy the sequels one of these days - they've been in my a
Written in the great pulp tradition, Master of the Five Magics is a lot like a good summer blockbuster: entertaining if you don't think about it too deeply. Aimed squarely at a male sword-and-sorcery audience, the book is saved from being just another piece of fantasy dreg by a few characteristics, namely Hardy's approachable prose and his unique take on the "chosen one" trope. Also of note is Hardy's system of magic, which he takes pains to define and then stick to. Master of the Five Magics certainly won' ...more
Bhumi Devi Dasi
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. I saw it on a little free library and it's cover caught my attention because it looked all retro. It kind of called me like the Jumanji game does lol. The read was quite a surprise. It tells about Alodar's journey and his quest to achieve the highest status in his society. There are many events in the book which stirred me to the core, and although through most parts I felt I disliked the way Alodar proceeded, by the end of the book I got to understand him and make sens ...more
Eric  Overkamp
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about a thaumaturge who wishes to become nothing less than the suitor of the beautiful queen and be chosen as hero of the realm. In order to become noticed by the queen, he needs to start learning about other 'magics' to help him fulfill his quest. He has lots of challenges down the road and find out it takes a lot more than his shortcuts to truly become a master of 5 magics (archimage).
A fun read. The language definitely is a bit dated, but easy to read and cozily nostalgic. I really en
Jamie Sidey
Jul 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book could hardly be more disappointing. Disappointing doesn't mean bad. It means it could have done so much better that it did.There are books that, in my opinion, have great world-building but the athor didn't quite know what story to tell in this world. That's how I felt about Dune for example. But the world was so compelling and honestly the story and characters weren't that bad, that it was all in all a great read. This book is not is this case.

First of all : worldbuilding.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I found this wonderful book through a friends recommendation. I somehow missed it back in the 80’s. I’m not sure how, because it really is a sterling example of what that golden era of fantasy offered. For those currently deep in urban fantasy land, it’s worth taking a trip back in time and reading some classic material.
C.S. Wright
This was a middle-of-the-road fantasy book. Not bad, but not great. It has an enjoyable story line and a nicely fleshed out magical system but beyond that fails to be anything truly original, with a standard 'quest for the hand of the fair lady' storyline. It's quite short so I suppose an easy book to fill some spare time if you don't want anything too deep and meaningful.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic fantasy, but not up to the hype... I learnt to hate the main character as it decisions and actions were annoying...

Interesting magic system (you see here from where Rothfuss got ideas for his Name of the Wind)
bill mooney
Fun read.

Strong magic system, very weak plotting, characterization and dialogue.

That said, I remember the book from 30+ years ago and still like the magic system.

Think early Piers Anthony (Tarot series) but without the clumsy grappling of big issues.
« previous 1 3 4 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1)
  • The Misenchanted Sword (Ethshar, #1)
  • The Chronoliths
  • The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #2)
  • Lucifer, Book One (Lucifer, #1)
  • Ultimate X-Men #1
  • The Healers' Road (The Balance Academy, #1)
  • Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
  • The Bachman Books / Thinner
  • The Healers' Home (The Balance Academy, #2)
  • Changes in a Time of War (A Second Chance at Life, #2)
  • A Second Chance at Life (A Second Chance at Life, #1)
  • The King's Justice (The Histories of King Kelson, #2)
  • Helliconia Spring (Helliconia, #1)
  • The Wounded Land (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #1)
  • Camber the Heretic (The Legends of Camber of Culdi, #3)
  • Thieves' World (Thieves' World, #1)
  • The Time of the Dark (Darwath, #1)
See similar books…
Lyndon Hardy (1941- ) Author, prankster, grandfather

He became interested in fantasy while wandering through the fringes of fandom when he was at Caltech. In addition to reading and writing, he has sporadic bursts of enthusiasm for collecting stamps and playing cards. As of yet, he has not figured out a plot line for a stamp collector who saves the world.

While at Caltech, in

Other books in the series

Magic by the Numbers (4 books)
  • Secret of the Sixth Magic (Magics, #2)
  • Riddle of the Seven Realms (Magics, #3)
  • The Archimage's Fourth Daughter (Magics, #4)