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Magic is based on words of power, which series?

I am looking for a trilogy of fantasy books which I read around 2001. I liked it a lot and would like to re-read it, but I don't know the title and/or author anymore. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

The story starts with a girl sitting at a deathbed to learn the word of power from the dying person. In this world everyone gets to learn one word to see if they have a talent for magic. If this is the case they can go to magic school to be trained and learn more words.

A word is inversely powerful to the amount of people that know it, so the more people know the word, the less powerful it is (speaking the word is painful).

Every word means more power and with three words (or five?) you become a god. At the end of the series there is a magician (and his wife?) who become a god to be powerful enough to make something happen and then speak their most powerful word to a crowd, so it loses its power and they no longer are a god.

marked as duplicate by phantom42, K-H-W, OghmaOsiris, Jack B Nimble, user56 Aug 27 '12 at 16:40

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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This is most likely the "A Man of his Word" series by David Duncan, as Gorchestopher referenced (I actually read the series after being intrigued by the question he linked to :).

It's not a trilogy; since you say the story starts with a girl sitting at a deathbed, you probably skipped the first book (Magic Casement) and went straight to the second, Faery Lands Forlorn.

The plot of the rest of the books is essentially as you said, with the events of your last paragraph happening in Emperor and Clown (though not exactly the way you describe - the magician's wife speaks multiple words to a crowd on her own, she doesn't have the magician with her).

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    Yep, that would be the answer to the duplicate question I linked. – Gorchestopher H Aug 27 '12 at 16:30
  • @GorchestopherH I think there was some meta discussion about when story identification questions are duplicates, and I don't know if this one counts as a duplicate of the other. Lemme see if I can find it. – Tacroy Aug 27 '12 at 16:34
  • If you start to ask a question, using the title of this question, the other one comes up. Almost all the words in the title are the same... – Gorchestopher H Aug 27 '12 at 16:35
  • @GorchestopherH Oh huh I didn't look at that. Nevermind then. – Tacroy Aug 27 '12 at 16:36
  • Thanks for the answer Tacroy. Based on the other question and reviews of that book I read online, I didn't think it was the same series. Nice to know there is a fourth book I haven't read yet :) – Annejet Aug 29 '12 at 13:35

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