I am trying to find the source of this quote which I remember reading somewhere, but am running into a brick wall. (Note that the phrasing might not be exact, any quote with the general gist of the phrase would be a valid answer).

Google searches for the phrase, with multiple variants (formed, destroyed, disassembled etc) did not find a source from which this phrase could reasonably come from. The main problem came from Google attempting to return hits on the card game Magic: The Gathering, which prevented the intended hit from being found.

  • I've heard this one too. Damn it - now it's going to niggle away in my memory until someone answers this question! Some ideas: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell? The Doomspell trilogy? A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones? (Not The Belgariad, not Lord of the Rings, not Wheel of Time). – Rand al'Thor Jul 4 '15 at 11:07
up vote 23 down vote accepted

He ticked the situation off on his fingers. "Archie, you've been kicked in the teeth by at least three of the four different types of elementals — earth, fire, and water. Maybe there was a sylph of the air in on it, too, but I can't prove it. First the gnomes came and cleaned out everything you had that came out of the ground, except cold iron. A salamander followed them and set fire to the place, burning everything that was burnable, and scorching and smoke-damaging the rest. Then the undine turned the place into a damned swamp, ruining anything that wouldn't burn, like cement and lime. You're insured?"

(...)

"Don't get your wind up too fast," he reassured me. "What magic can do, magic can undo. What we need is the best wizard in town."

Magic, Inc. by Robert Anson Heinlein

In the short story Magic, Inc. by Heinlein, a shop owner has his shop destroyed. His friend notices that it's the work of magic creatures (magic is just another profession in this world) and advices him how to have the damage undone.

This is the beginning of an adventure in which the underworld is trying to get a monopoly on the use of magic.

It's most commonly found in a book containing this story, and Waldo.

  • That is it. Thanks! – March Ho Jul 4 '15 at 14:26
  • Cool! Wouldn't have guessed Heinlein. – Organic Marble Jul 4 '15 at 17:42

How about this quote, which apparently comes from The Eighth Court, by Mike Shevdon?

“Anything that can be made with magic, can be undone with magic,” said Blackbird.

I found it by just searching for the first part of the phrase, in quotes, and tweaking the word order until I found something that matched. There are too many variations to be able to guess the whole phrase at once, but just tweaking the first half found it pretty quickly.

  • +1 for a valid answer, but it doesn't seem to be the version that I read (I am very sure I have not read the book in question). – March Ho Jul 4 '15 at 12:27

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