Ever feel overwhelmed when looking at a multi-book fantasy series, thinking, Great, now I've got to learn how this whole magic world works?
I have. In fact, this is probably one of the two predominant reasons I've stopped reading in this category. The other reason is that books in this genre tend to be so darn long and in addition to learning a world of magic, I also have to get out my Elvish-English dictionary. (Or write a new one of those as I go...also a non-standard component.)
But, the good folks over at the IO9 site have come up with a handy table for understanding magic*. They've got most of the great fantasy series out there represented and the table gives you a standard dissection of how it works, is there good and evil types of magic, who can use it, etc.
I'm kind of hankering to dive into a series like this. My last big venture was all the Jacqueline Carey Kushiel books. I think this chart may be just the thing I need to pick a new world.
*My friend @ScribeJay found this online first. I promised him sweet, sweet credit for the link. The Word Nerds are nothing if not faithful to promises of credit.