Wizard images? What???

Yes, I’m at loss for words as well.
For some strange inexplicable reason, my wandering mind has compelled me to write about my irrational fondness for mages, or more commonly, wizards. I know, I know. It’s past my bedtime, I’ve just consumed a satisfying number of pages from two of current reads, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, and Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and I’m delirious.
By mages I mean magic-using characters in fantasy literature. Yes, along the lines of Gandalf. I like paintings or drawings or works of art I can admire, and I like mages. So it stands to reason that I’m particularly fond of paintings of mages.
However, I want to be clear: I don’t love just any kind of mages. In fact, I despise the stereotypical portrayal of mages as propagated by the countless illegitimate spawns of LOTR – pointy hats, long white beard, wizened old man, cloaks with bell sleeves and a long walking staff that also happens to be a mass weapon of destruction. All the Gandalfs and Dumbledores and Raistlins (the ones I see on the Dungeon & Dragons novel covers) are all so…. tired.
My ideal mage was influenced by Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea – young, confident, arrogant, no need to go out of his way to grow a beard longer than is fashionably acceptable.
In recent memory, Karen Miller’s Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology has combined two of my favourite things on its covers: watercolour paintings and mages. It was the first time I remembered buying a book on a whim due solely because I love the covers.


These puny thumbnail images do not do the artist any justice. It’s not mind-blowingly beautiful, but it’s not shabby either. My favourite mage cover art so far. I’ve finished the books earlier this year, and have been meaning to write a mini-review. It’s either I’ve gone completely screwy, or became a hopeless fantasy curmudgeon, or I’ve really honed my expectations: the books were not that great.
I’ve give another example of cover art of a mage, but one that didn’t turn me on:

This is from Gail Martin’s The Summoner, and the art is suitably dark, but the colour’s skewed, the fellow is split in half, and he’s decked out in patterned cowls and cape! I mean come on! Break out of the wizard mold, sure, but don’t overdo it with these Louis Vuitton designer outfits.
Just so you know, I don’t normally critique the fashion sense of imaginary characters. I’m not, you know, weird.


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