This should be an easy identification, but my google-fu is failing.

Late 70's/early 80's. Two brothers. One a magic user, the other a technologist. They fight a war, I don't remember who wins. Hopefully I'm not conflating two novels here, but the magician sees magic as threads, which can be woven and unwoven to make 'spells' or powers.

I'm fairly certain that the technologist had tanks and robots.

Should be one of the better known sci-fi/fantasy authors.

  • 1
    How advanced was the technology?
    – Spencer
    Jul 1, 2020 at 0:08
  • 8
    I'm sorry in advance
    – Thomas
    Jul 1, 2020 at 14:40
  • Is there a dragon, Moonbird? Did the magic using brother temporarily paralyze his brother's legs, but didn't tie off the threads, so it wore off? Jul 1, 2020 at 22:11

4 Answers 4


I think this is probably Roger Zelazny's Changeling (1980).

Two young boys are switched between a magical world and a technological one, and grow up favouring the system of their birthworlds, making them outcasts. Pol, the magical one, sees magic as strands. Quoting from the plot summary on Wikipedia:

In the world of magic, the young Mark Marakson is obsessed with devices, building water wheels and later, steam engines. He does not understand why the people on the farms and villages rely on magicians rather than using the machinery he creates. Young Pol, meanwhile, grows up a poet, musician and singer, marked by the white streak in his dark hair. He is a great disappointment to the man he regards as his father, who is an engineer. From time to time he sees glowing strands in the air which he can touch to make things happen.

Mark is ostracised by the people around him and wanders in the hills until he finds a graveyard of machines, left from the ancient war between magic and technology. Able to restart them, he returns in triumph on a flying machine to claim his childhood sweetheart in the village, only to be assaulted by the villagers, losing an eye. Fleeing back to the graveyard he creates an army of machines to take revenge.

Mor, realizing that he has disturbed the balance of the world, goes to retrieve Pol to counter Mark, revealing Pol's heritage and powers to him. To return Pol, the elderly Mor has to remain in the technology world to balance out the transfer. He dies in a park where every tree, bird and insect is artificial.

There is a sequel Madwand (1981), but it's mostly about Pol finding his place in the magical world. (And a sentient curse that likes the colour green.) If you recall the name "Belphanior" you might have read the 1989 omnibus Wizard World which contains both novels.

  • The strands sound right, but I'm not yet convinced .. I'll look it up tonight and see if it rings a bell.
    – CGCampbell
    Jul 1, 2020 at 1:05
  • 1
    That was the one that popped into my head right away. They weren't really brothers, of course -- one baby had been swapped for the other, but otherwise it fits the OP's description.
    – Lorendiac
    Jul 1, 2020 at 6:22
  • 1
    I found this in a used book store, that was open, imagine that. This is it, thanks.
    – CGCampbell
    Jul 1, 2020 at 20:48

I know the timing isn't correct, but reminds me of Urza vs Mishra in the Magic: The Gathering novel The Brothers' War. Urza is a planeswalker (magic user) and Mishra primarily uses technology. The whole book revolves around the two brothers who would rather right than forgive. It's not necessarily from a better known author but it's part of the Magic: The Gathering series which is relatively well known.

  • 4
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Alternative answers are still useful, since someone else might find this question but not be looking for the accepted answer. But in order to make this answer useful, you should add details that would help that future searcher recognize this. Which brother used technology, and how, etc.
    – DavidW
    Jul 2, 2020 at 15:51
  • 1
    Partial answers are good, but you need to explain why it matches. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 2, 2020 at 15:51

This also reminds me of the Darksword Trilogy from Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman from 87-88.

However it is not brothers. But one person, the son of the Emperor, is born without magic in a world where everyone has to have magic. He is cast out (sent to a different dimension) thinking it means his death.

However the other dimension is technology based and he comes back to his original world to wage war with guns and tanks.

Not sure this is your answer but it might be mixed in with another book of the time frame.


If you are talking about a movie, then "Wizards" from 1977 by Ralph Bakshi is what you looking for.

3,000 years later, Blackwolf has risen to lead the dark land of Scortch, where he and his vast army of goblins, ogres, wraiths, demons, dragons, and mutants salvage and restore ancient technology. He tries to attack Montagar twice, but is foiled both times when his mutant warriors become bored or sidetracked in the midst of battle. Blackwolf then discovers an old projector and reels of Nazi propaganda footage, using his magic to enhance it for psychological warfare: inspiring his own soldiers while horrifying enemy troops into submission.

  • 1
    On IMDB: imdb.com/title/tt0076929
    – Phill W.
    Jul 1, 2020 at 10:59
  • 1
    This was one of my first thoughts as well. It does have two brothers fighting a war, one using what we recognize as technology and the other using magic. However it wasn't a novel, and it's also missing the magic-as-threads element.
    – barbecue
    Jul 2, 2020 at 18:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.