Pyromancy, as it was originally described, is the act of divining the future by looking at flames. Similar to other methods of divination that date back to ancient Greece, like knissomancy (using incense smoke) or osteomancy (using arrangements of bones).
But, in today’s SFF scene, pyromancy often refers to the ability to control fire, and pyromancy appears in countless sword-and-sorcery novels.
We’ve compiled a short list of some of the most prominent books that involve fire magic!
Pyromancer by Don Callander
While it’s a bit on the nose, Pyromancer is, in fact, about fire magic. As the first book of Callander’s Mancer series, the book follows Douglas Brightglade as he comes to master his abilities over fire. Along his journey, Brightglade makes many friends, animal and human, who help him take on the Ice King.
This story has often been described as simple, with a fairly basic plot of good against evil, but it’s a quick, fun read for anyone that loves old sword and sorcery fiction.
This classic fire vs. ice story was first published in 1992 by Ace, and reprinted again fairly recently. If you’re looking to read this story, I suggest finding an older printing, because the new edition is full of typographical errors.
Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
While this book sparked some controversy over it’s use of mental health issues as fundaments of magical power, it does feature pyromancy.
In Fletcher’s world, there are two kinds of people: the “normal”, sane people, and the Geisteskranken, which translates to The Insane from German. Within the second group, there are various different people who gain power from their relative insanity. The Hassebrands in particular, are adept at fire magic.
This grimdark SFF book follows a group of murderers as they attempt to capture and kill a young boy Morgen, who they believe will become a new god. This book isn’t for the faint of heart, as Fletcher goes into very dark territory. If you’re looking for some wicked fire magic, this book is for you, but make sure you read something more lighthearted—like Pyromancer—after you finish it.
The Castes and the OutCastes by David Ashura
This trilogy consists of A Warrior’s Path, A Warrior’s Knowledge, and A Warrior’s Penance. The first book won the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award for fantasy, and was a finalist for multiple other awards.
In this series, which is loosely based on Indian mythology, there are the castes, and the outcastes. The main character, Rukh Shektan, is born into the Caste Kumma, and becomes a renowned warrior, skilled with both fire magic and the blade.
The characters are well-developed, and the world presents enough similarities to traditional fantasy books that it feels familiar, but has aspects of political intrigue, deception, and action that make it unique.
This sword-and-sorcery series has been likened to The Wheel of Time, the works of Zelazney, and other big-name fantasy series.
The Fire Mages by Pauline M. Ross
Even thought The Fire Mages is part of the Brightmoon series, it can be read as a standalone book. The story follows Kyra as she navigates a world of magic and deception. Magic in this world requires specific symbology written on magic paper, with very few magicians capable of using their powers without these things.
As such, fire magic is pretty dangerous, seeing as how the mode for power is flammable paper.
The book reminds me of a mix between The Name of the Wind (thinking about Kvothe’s struggle with money and school) and The Armored Saint by Myke Cole.
It’s a fun ride, and the characters are well-thought out and the world is full of rich details. Definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of traditional fantasy magic.
Firestarter by Stephen King
Moving out of the realm of fantastical magic-wielders, Firestarter imagines a world where experimental drug trials leave some individuals with psychic abilities. The main character, Charlie McGee, has a very strong pyrokinetic ability, which she often uses to protect her and her father from secret government agents who are hunting them down.
Firestarter is a sci-fi horror story, typical of King’s style as a writer. The book was first published in 1980, and was adapted as a film in 1984. The reboot of the film comes out later this year, starring Zac Efron as Charlie’s father, Andy, and Ryan Kiera Armstrong as Charlie.
If you like stories about powered people hunted down by shadow organizations, then Firestarter is a must read.
If you liked this post, consider checking out some of our other Top 5 book lists!