These are all great books/ franchises for many, many reasons. Love, and forgive, them all, and these are just successful examples, many other, less popular examples also exist.
Today’s definition of weak magic systems
Vague, no-cost systems – aka. Soft Magic Systems
To reduce tension, let’s take it from the top.
At Number One – Harry Potter
One of my all-time favourite series. Total page-turner! Why did I keep turning? To find out what happened to the characters of course, as J.K. Rowling does such an amazing character and world building job.
Although the magic is interesting, it rarely reaches the stage of becoming believable – if magic can be. There are few costs to using it – you would think the wizards may at least need a sit-down after magicking it up … and Harry and Co. tend to forget they could just Cruciatus their way out of most situations if they wanted to. Maybe if they had worked on Wingardium Leviosa a bit more they might have found a way to combine streams like Ghostbusters – could have got them out of all kinds of situations.
A too-much-magic system held together (successfully) by the premise that the good and bad guys all have equal access to it. Brilliant nevertheless.
At Number Two – Star Wars
Jedis have vague powers, changeable from character to character. The Force is an ethereal concept which changes importance and meaning on plot points – a disturbance in the force – there’s a telegram of bad news … mind control – but only sometimes … levitating stuff, moving things … great – but I want to know how it works!
They tried to back fix the system with the concept of midi-chlorians – YouTubers have had better luck retrofitting fire extinguishers to office chairs, with more entertaining results.
At Number Three – Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire
This choice is bound to attract the hay doors, hay doors, hay toors, hayters … the haters. Ahem.
Characters in George R. R. Martin’s fictionalverse tend to have specific powers, but they can be pretty much anything, as the plot requires. Unlike Star Wars, the rule system is much more coherent, within each character, but there are so many mini-magic systems throughout the series that the overall effect tends towards the Harry Potter spell book approach to magic.
Costs to using magic or powers are rare, at least to the user.
The dragons are cool though!