I am looking for a book that I read in the 80s where magic is used to help with tasks and science is forbidden.

What I recall is that the protagonist (I think a boy) has to move a something heavy like a rock or tree stump but doesn't have magic, or it hasn't manifested yet, but he gets the idea to use a stick as a lever, at which point he gets into some sort of trouble for using what he later learns is called science.

A bit later in the story I think he finds a section in the library that he's never seen before, which contains books on the "forbidden" (science). Possibly in a post-apocalyptic world where science is forbidden because people remember it leading to catastrophe.


It might be Forging the Darksword, the first book of the Darksword Trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

In that world, magic is called "Life." The main character, Joram, is a baby born "Dead," meaning he has no magic. As a kid he gets in trouble for "giving Life to that which is Dead" (moving a rock with a lever). Google Books has that bit at page 107 of the copy they scanned.

Once Joram, tired of pushing a huge boulder across the ground, suddenly conceived the idea of taking a stick, placing it under the boulder, and using the leverage of the stick to make the boulder move. He was just thrusting the stick beneath the boulder when Mosiah, with a shocked look, grabbed hold of his arm.

“Joram, what are you doing?” “Well, what am I doing?” Joram snapped impatiently, flinching away. He did not like people touching him. “I’m moving this rock!”

“You are moving it by giving Life to that stick!” Mosiah said. “You are giving Life to that which has none of its own.”

Joram stared at the stick, frowning. “So?” “Joram,” whispered Mosiah in awe, “that is what the Sorcerers do! Those who practice the Dark Arts!”

Joram snorted. “You mean the Dark Arts are nothing more than using sticks to move stones? From the way everybody fears them, I thought they must at least sacrifice babies -”

“Don’t talk like that, Joram,” Mosiah remonstrated in hushed tones, glancing about nervously. “They deny the magic. They deny Life. By their Dark Arts, they would destroy it. They almost did destroy it, during the Iron Wars!”

The world had outlawed science after the "Iron Wars," where Technologists tried to take over the world.

Eventually, Joram is found out and flees, joining up with a group of Technologists. They have a library that contains instructions about how to refine the ore darkstone and forge it into a metal that absorbs magic. With help, he creates the titular Darksword.

The a review at The Ossus Library includes a detailed summary.

  • 2
    I have the book so I've extended the quote. If you aren't happy with my change please feel free to roll it back. – John Rennie Sep 22 '20 at 6:18
  • That's the one! Brilliant! – Mick Sep 22 '20 at 6:36

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