Wizards are a classic staple of fantasy literature and it’s easy to see why these characters have been fascinating readers forever. From the classic image of the wizard as an old man in a pointy hat to more modern interpretations, wizards endure thanks to their varied abilities, cool characterizations, and usage to explore the fantasy realms they inhabit. But who are some of the best?
Here are top five of the coolest and best wizards (in our opinion) of fantasy literature.
5. The Crimson King from The Dark Tower
Not all wizards are good. Many throughout literature have been downright evil, with the classic image of an evil sorcerer becoming a well known fixture of various novels. No villains of this caliber have become as far reaching as The Crimson King, the main villain of The Dark Tower and indeed, Stephen King’s literary universe. Introduced as a powerful and mysterious embodiment of evil, the Crimson King’s influence is felt across multiple universes, where he controls others to do his bidding. He appears as the dark force setting in motion the novels Insomnia and Black House, before he is properly revealed to behind the destruction of the Beams in The Dark Tower universe which holds reality together, plotting to rule the chaos that will follow.
The Crimson King takes many forms throughout Stephen King’s novels, appearing as Satan, a handsome young man, and withered old man with crimson eyes. He is the ultimate evil and although his powers are not explicit, it is known that he uses mind control to keep his men in line, as well as probably being a shapeshifter.
4. Rastilin Majere from Dragonlance
Dragonlance by Tracey and Margaret Hickman is basically a Dungeons and Dragons campaign chronicled in novel form. Rastilin Majere fulfills the common characteristics of a classic wizard but he’s much more dark and ambiguous in his loyalties than his fellow party members. Although physically extremely weak owing to a traumatic upbringing and his magical usage, Rastilin is extremely intelligent and adept with his extensive knowledge of sorcery.
He’s ruthless in his pursuit of power, viewing others as mere tools and is characterized as arrogant, egoistical, yet possessing his own strange code of honor. He’s a fascinating character, instantly hatable yet strangely complex. This status as a fan favorite earned him the starring role of Dragonlance Legends, following him from his own twisted point of view.
3. Harry Potter from The Harry Potter Series
Image Via Harry Potter wiki
Harry Potter is one of the most enduring protagonists of young adult literature, made famous by the books and the movies to become a pop culture icon. Harry Potter himself is a great character, at once being a relatable POV character while also giving way to more nuanced characterization as the series goes on. We get to grow up with Harry, showcasing his uneasy steps into adulthood as he deals with mundane terrors such as schoolwork, girls, and bullies while the looming threat of Voldemort, who he is destined to destroy, looms ever on the horizon.
Harry Potter has flaws despite his Chosen One status, such as his temper and impulsive behavior, not helped by the pressure he’s under almost constantly. It makes him a hero for a generation, being just a regular kid thrust into the wizarding world to destroy the Dark Lord.
2. Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings set the standard for fantasy literature in many ways and it provided the classic image of a wizard whom many draw inspiration from: Gandalf. Gandalf himself was inspired by Merlin, the iconic wizard of King Arthur’s round table. Gandalf is in truth (secretly) more akin to an angel than a wizard, he is a Maiar, servants of the universe’s counterpart to God, sent to Middle-earth in human form to aid the mortal races. Gandalf is forbidden to use his true power, so he nudges everyone forward in more subtle ways, getting them to work together and using his wisdom as their guide. Gandalf perishes in the first book of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but returns to life and is sent back to help the heroes as Gandalf the White, reborn with greater power and given permission to use (some) of his magic more explicitly. Gandalf, despite his wisdom, is often short tempered, mischievous, and sarcastic but considering all the Hobbits he has to put off, it makes sense that he’s a little stressed.
1. Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files
The Dresden Files chronicles the adventures of Harry Dresden, a modern day detective based out of Chicago, only he’s both a wizard and tackles supernatural cases. Working as a consultant for the Chicago PD, Harry tackles everything from werewolves to vampires to evil fairies to skin walkers. Harry’s life is a bit of a mess, as he’s generally anti-social, has bad luck with women, and suffers more and more with each book. Yet, he’s a hilarious protagonist, commenting on everything from a very meta point of view and making references to comic books to movies throughout his intense fights. Wielding all sorts of spells that he conjures with Latin words, not to mention magical items and allies, Harry builds up an impressive resume as he solves case after case, each one tougher than the last.
Who are some of your favorite wizards? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Via Lord of the Rings Wiki