I'm writing a story where a secondary story-line (it's about a companion of the main character) is basically about a fire mage and an ice mage.
It fits well in the story and the fire/ice elements aren't coming out of nowhere, but I wonder if it will bother the reader?
Does it depend on whether I write it well? Or is it better that I change the elements anyway?

This is a hard-fantasy story. The main character has two companions. One of them was born in a family proficient in the use of explosions, which I basically call fire magic. His father died as a rebel fighting a party of loyal soldiers (including a renowned ice user) who were killed in the process. Said ice user's son will seek revenge on the explosions user's son. This isn't the main plot, but it plays an important role nevertheless.
According to my calculations, I'm in for one thousand pages, so of course there's much more to the story, BUT I wouldn't want that to discourage the reader from reading further...

As for what different magic types there are: actually, I at least have psychological magic, body transformations (includes healing), explosions, moving objects, heating, cooling, etc.
Ice is moving objects + cooling at least.
Fire is explosions + heating at least.

  • 1
    You might have a series of books on your hands. Are there any natural stopping points 1/3, 1/2, or 2/3 of the way through the book?
    – Jasper
    Jun 13, 2017 at 4:17
  • Probably yes. I do have a 2-3 years leap in my story around 2/3.
    – user18743
    Jun 13, 2017 at 4:56
  • ehh, depends how you look at it. Jun 13, 2017 at 18:53
  • @AspenRand That is to say ?
    – user18743
    Jun 19, 2017 at 7:38
  • @NathanCoustenoble You can have the fire fighting the ice, or vise versa, but you can add other elements as well without threatening the plot. Jun 20, 2017 at 17:22

5 Answers 5


I wouldn't just use fire and ice. The classic Four Elements (earth, air, fire, water) have been used for mythological and magical structures for many stories. Look at the Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra cartoon series just for starters.

Having mages whose powers fall into one of those four categories (or expand them to metal, electricity, stone, etc. depending on how advanced the civilization is), with opposing pairs, is completely doable. Make it the basis for all your magic, not just the secondary storyline, and if your worldbuilding works, then you're fine. Sure, it's been done before, but there have been lots of vampires and wizards and mages and quests before, and the bookstores are not emptying any time soon. Go for it.

  • Ok Thank you ! I didn't mention it either, but I have dozens of different types of magic. And Avatar was good indeed.
    – user18743
    Jun 12, 2017 at 12:46
  • 1
    another option, instead of the western 4 (or5) of earth air fire water (cool warm dry wet) (and maybe quintessence/spirit) is to go with a different set. I believe Chinese has water air fire WOOD METAL (instead of earth). It appears some African philosophy has a 5-element view, too: "A Medicine Wheel is the basis of the cosmology and five element rituals of the Dagara. The five elements are Fire (red, south), Water (blue, north), Earth (yellow, centre), Mineral (white, west) and Nature (green, east). " fireupwaterdown.com/2016/12/27/… Apr 30, 2019 at 13:41

I'm a true believer that creative writers should be 'creative' - get your own heroes, villains and themes. But (commercially) we are in strange times. Publishers have become global corporations with shareholders. Investments must be tried and tested. They are reluctant to invest in anything new. Publishers publish stories from tried and tested authors whilst Hollywood invest its billions in franchise reboots and remakes.

Depending on your goal; following recently popular themes is a huge risk. I recall: a few years ago when I was seeking an agent I discovered a couple of agencies that included "No Boy Wizards" & "No Vampires" as part of their guidelines.

However, if self-publishing is your route there are some readers who are obsessed with certain themes and will look at any stories including a particular theme.

  • Thank you for your answer. As for overall originality, I think I happen to have some, since it's a hard fantasy story (I didn't mention it to focus on my problem). Right now, I'm mainly concerned about Ice/Fire. But I guess your point remains valid.
    – user18743
    Jun 12, 2017 at 12:10
  • 1
    @NathanCoustenoble I agree. Life is too short to play covers and write fan fiction. If you manage to create a more or less original yet logical magic system (Brandon Sanderson is very good at that), you will be much better off.
    – Lew
    Jun 12, 2017 at 13:17

One interesting variant I've seen on this was Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series. In that series Ice was not a separate element from Fire, but instead a different aspect of Fire. Sort of its absence (like cold is just the absence of heat).

Or you could get a bit more complex, and say that Ice control is an ability you'd see in someone who has abilities in both water and fire magic.

  • How could I possibly have forgotten the Elemental Masters series?! +1000000. :) Jun 12, 2017 at 14:57
  • Sounds really different from our world, but it's interesting !
    – user18743
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:01

It is a bit stereotypical, but for good reason. The two are opposing forces. I don't mean in the sense of physical frozen water and whatever the hell fire is, but in the sense of endothermic (absorbs heat) and exothermic (emits heat) reactions. The two are opposing ends of the 'thermal' spectrum, like how midday is the opposite of midnight. Using ice magic and fire magic is perfectly acceptable.

What would be stereotypical (and somewhat cliché) would be to make the characters a personification of those elements. Typically fire-users are energetic hot-heads who are quick to anger and ice-users are oddly calm and relaxed because those traits fit the elements. But if magic were to exist, people would not necissarily be personifications of the magic they use, people would have personalities and they would choose to use a certain magic. There is no reason to not have an excitable, bubbly ice-user or a miserable, lazy fire-user.

Admittedly there might be cultural influence (e.g. the fire nation favours power, the ice nation favours wisdom) but that would not be steadfast - there do exist Americans who don't like American football or hamburgers, there do exist Britons who do not like football or tea. Heck, all nations are divided by their politics alone, no matter what traits their culture favours.

TL;DR: Fire and Ice magic is fine, but don't make the people personifications of their powers.


I think fire and ice can be two fundamental magic forces in your story if you frame it as powers of increasing and decreasing temperature, powers of giving energy to and taking energy from particles.

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