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Since this was many years ago I only remember bits and pieces of the book. I recall the magic system was talents. Certain people would have talents and you could somehow take those talents away from others. Any ideas?

The only other things I can remember are something about the protagonist being forced to shave a guy (the captain?) on his ship, being certain not to nick the guy, and a big finale at the end...maybe some kind of fight.

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    Might need more detail than that.
    – gnovice
    Nov 8, 2011 at 21:21
  • To expound on what gnovice said, any information you can provide will be helpful. Approximate year range when you read it, what was on the cover, information about the plot or sub-plots, etc. Anything you remember helps, no matter how small.
    – Xantec
    Nov 8, 2011 at 21:25
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    Could it be the Xanth Series? Nov 8, 2011 at 22:27
  • It might be the Xanth Series, but I don't think so. I'm not positive, but I believe it's a stand-alone book. The only other things I can remember is something about the protagonist being forced to shave a guy (the captain?) on his ship. He was to make certain not to knick the guy. I also remember a big finale at the end...maybe some kind of fight.
    – Bill
    Nov 8, 2011 at 23:21
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    Sounds like the Earthdawn setting. The book may be Scars or "Worlds Without End" which is a sequel to Scars.
    – Chad
    Nov 9, 2011 at 18:31

3 Answers 3

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I'm very late to this question, so I don't know if it's still relevant, but the description of magic sounds like The Legend of Nightfall. To quote from a review of it:

This has magic but of a type that you don't often seen in fantasy novels. Magic is an often innate ability to do one thing. Sorcerers are largely dangerous people that rip the souls from others to steal their innate gifts and use them.

I think I vaugely remember that scene about having to shave someone, but I couldn't tell you if it was this book or not. It's been years since I've read it.

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    The scene with the shaving happens in the sequel, The Return of Nightfall. He has to disguise a pirate captain first as an upper-class woman, then as a noble. Both required shaving him.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 24, 2015 at 3:34
  • I'm pretty sure that this is the right answer, for all that the original querent seems to have disappeared, plus I like to promote the series. Congrats!
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 25, 2015 at 10:22
  • @SeanDuggan - Thank you. I probably wouldn't have been able to answer the question at all if it were asked today, which is probably a sign I should go reread the books. On my list they go!
    – Bobson
    Sep 25, 2015 at 21:48
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This sounds like the Night Angel Trilogy where good magic if through Talents and bad magic is Vir. The Ka'Kari focused a users talent giving them a different powers depending on which Ka'Kari it was, with the Black Ka'Kari being the most powerful as it had the power of all the other Ka'Kari. There are different colours of Talent, which allow someone to use different kinds of magic.

Regarding your plot points, I can't remember specifically anything about shaving but I also can't specifically remember that not happening. It's plausible that it would fit into the plot when Blint is training Azoth.

Big finale with a fight? Well that could probably fit into 99% of fantasy books about magic..yes there was a big fight at the end, one that lasted a whole night IIRC.

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This reminds me the David Farland series Runelords.

In the universe of The Runelords, there exists a unique magical system which relies on the existence of distinct bodily attributes, such as brawn, grace, and wit. These attributes can be transferred from one individual (or animal) to another in a process known as "giving an endowment". Lords who have taken many endowments become extremely powerful, almost superhuman, and are known as Runelords.

The endowments are transferred using a magical brand called a "forcible". The brand is applied to the skin, and probably requires a clear patch of skin necessitating the shaving.

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    Why? Can you explain in what sense Runelords is related to the question?
    – Andres F.
    Jan 7, 2014 at 16:46
  • Just the transferrable magical abilities part, in fact : in Runelords, the lords can get the strength, intelligence,... of other people/animals by using forged runes.
    – Riduidel
    Jan 8, 2014 at 9:20

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