Most of us that got into fantasy, did so because we were taken by a world with magic in it. And those characters that were able to master it, were usually our favorites. And now I will tell you about my top 3 coolest wizards of all time.
But before that, let me say that my friends and I started playing Dungeons and Dragons when we were around 14 or 15 years old. Yeah, it’s the period when guys usually stop throwing dice in the basement, and go outside in the fresh air and talk with some girls. Well, we do things differently in Eastern Europe…
Anyhow, we never really quit D’n’D. And as the years passed, we sort off found what kind of characters fit us the best. Myself, time and time again I would return to playing the wizard. It still feels the most natural.
And generally I noticed that I favour characters of that class in books or movies. Many of my Dungeons and Dragons characters were influenced by them. So, without further ado, here is my list:
You’ve gotta love the Old Man! Elminster Aumar is one of the most powerful and well known wizards in Faerun. But, he is not just that. He is also an accomplished swordsman, a thief, storyteller – read “liar”, a king who refused his kingship, and a bunch of other stuff…
Maybe most importantly, he is one of Mystra’s Chosen. That is to say, one of the few magic users hand-picked by the goddess of magic herself. This of course gives him a bunch of special abilities, including the mysterious Silver Fire
Even though he can take any shape he wants, generally he looks like a burly brawler in his later years, his face decorated with scars and a greying unkempt beard. Under bushy eyebrows, clever eyes look at the world through haze of nasty, greenish smoke from a pipe that he rarely keeps unlit.
Born a prince, and a grandson of kings, Elminster lost his family at an early age when his country was occupied by an order of evil wizards. For many years, while growing up, he hated and feared magic and swore vengeance on those who wronged him. After a turbulent childhood and adolescence, he eventually managed to avenge his family and take his ancestral throne. Only to give it up, after like five minutes…
Nah, Elminster wasn’t one to sit on a chair, no matter how fancy, for the rest of his life. He set out to seek adventure, master magic, experience life. And through the course of his thousand-year long life, he battled gods, founded countries – he’s literally been to the Nine Hells and back! He even spent a couple of years as a girl. And over the course of centuries, he acquired a bunch of names, Stinkbeard being my personal favorite.
“Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
– Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit)
The person that says that he doesn’t think Gandalf is awesome is either a liar or a hipster. Neither is good. For most of us, at least those born a bit before the Harry Potter generation, he was pretty much the first wizard we ever heard of. Or the second, after Merliln.
But what makes him so cool? Well, everything! To start, he is kind of a god. This is generally unknown to those that haven’t read any of Tolkien’s works, and who decided that they are LotR fans because they caught The Two Towers on HBO a couple of years ago. However, Gandalf was originally Olorin, the wisest of the Maiar – lesser deities older than the world itself.
He was sent to the Middle-earth from Valinor as the second-in-command in the order of Istari. One of five wizards that were supposed to fight the Dark Lord, Sauron. And there he not only guided and advised various princes, kings and other potentates, Gandalf took an active role in ridding the world of Evil.
Known by many names, Mithrandir – the Grey Pilgrim, was the first to suspect that Bilbo found the One Ring. And in Rivendale he was made leader of the Fellowship of the Ring. The role he fulfilled until his fall in Moria. Glamdring in hand, he even slew a Balrog. Man, I got goosebumps just by remembering that chapter!
Through darkness Gandalf fell, and battled the Balrog from the lowest caves to the peak of Zirakzigil, where he cast down his enemy and it broke the mountain-side as it fell… (Fuck, that’s cool!) And on the heights he was re-made, reborn even more powerful!
After the Ring was destroyed, Gandalf, along with Bilbo and Frodo, and his faithful horsey Shadowfax, boarded a cruiser and went to an all-expenses paid holiday to the Undying Lands until the end of days. Not bad, right?
It’s generally estimated that when Rincewind eventually dies, the average magic ability on the Discworld will actually go up a bit. And yet he is a wizzard right down to his marrow. Completely magically incompetent, admittedly the biggest coward there is, but in my opinion he is the coolest wizard in fantasy!
So, who is this guy? Well, he is an alumnus of Unseen University – the premiere school of wizardry on the Disc, although his highest academic achievement was that he once scored a 2% on exam for managing to spell his name correctly. And he has had one interesting life!
This is funny because all Rincewind ever wanted was a life of boredom, where no one will try to murder him horribly. But where ever he went, trouble followed him. Which, if you think about it, isn’t all that bad, since the best place for trouble is behind you.
Rincewind’s philosophy of life is quite simple. Most of his life he has spent running away, and never particularly bothers with where he’s running away to – what he’s running from is always more important.
We are all familiar with the concept of the Eternal Champion – the Hero of a Thousand Faces, born Age after Age to fight Evil or whatever. Well, Rincewind is kinda the opposite of that – the Coward with the Thousand Retreating Backs, as it were.
And yet, frightened out of his wits, with zero magic ability, Rincewind will always fight for his recognition as a true wizard. That is his defining point, what he is – admittedly, he is just not any good at wizarding. No matter how tough the going gets, he will never leave behind or abandon the mark of his profession – the pointy hat! That’s what makes him the coolest wizard in fantasy.
I guess a lot of people would put on their list characters that are more powerful or dangerous. Sadly, many would, without a doubt, include guys like Harry Potter or Dumbledore. And people like that have no place making lists like this one. Anything list that starts with “cool” and/or “wizard” doesn’t include specky, little gits or curtain-wearing, old poofs.
Let us not forget that no matter how dissimilar essentially Rincewind, Gandalf and Elminster are, the coolest wizards have something in common. Whether they are battling arch-devils in the Nine Hells, not allowing a Balrog to pass, or just running for their life from whatever horror is chasing them at the moment, all three have beards and wear pointy hats!
Stefan is a geek and wordsmith extraordinaire with an M.A. in Philosophy and a professional background in business development, marketing and media. He has a cat called Freya that doesn’t like him very much.