Could you write a book set in a world where magic operates, and where the majority of people of course are not magicians or anything - mostly subjects and peasants and such in the cultured areas, and more rough-hewn living-off-nature sorts in the hinterlands, but magic is known in the world and people have plenty of superstitions about it. But in this world, magic is something any person with aptitude, opportunity (one needs a tutor and probably, quite a bit of expensive schooling, there is hard core study involved to get to be any good at all) and discipline can learn how to do - like playing violin? In other words, none of this 'wizard gene' bullshit.
But it is a fantasy world, with fantasy goals and quests and monstrous animals (some quite sentient and conversational), with legendary activities going on, and the broad culture of people within the world do subscribe to the idea of deities, or perhaps better: one diety, an antithesis king-devil, and a panoply of lesser spiritual, demonic, or otherwise supernatural beings/powers - and people in general within the world do ascribe the action of magic at least in part to the action of these various spiritual powers. And as in our world, the religions and warring factions and sects use their statement of the deity's intent to institute and expand whatever hegemony they can get their hands on or fingers into, and so there is corruption, and there is misuse: and the most powerful of wizards are often employed in service of a tyranny that can attract and hold them (although oddly enough, they rarely take a crown of their own - perhaps the higher or blacker study of magic does something to the mind, to make the rule of drooling plebes seem less "of consequence"), a tyranny that funds, enables and humors their increasingly esoteric and expensive researches and experiments, because of the prestige and threat that a world class mage represents. Or even a kingdom-class mage.
World-class mages are surpassingly rare. At the start of the book, there may be only two living, and one has not been seen in a very long time.
Into this world, a young adept falls afoul as regards her faith. The upshot is, she is a quick and deep study, and she begins discovering things. Small things, but they lead her on a certain path: astray. And as she continues, she begins to outstrip others at such a frightening rate that wisps of legend begin to accrue around her. Which she encourages - prophecy this, chosen one of that - she fully embraces and goes through all of those motions, but she's on a different tack, though.
You see, magic is steeped in superstition in this world. Even adepts believe it, and steep it, and steep in it. All of magic's operating principles and rituals of activation are couched in a theory that involves and invokes these supernatural beings as the source and cause of all magic. But our hero for some reason keeps finding little short cuts, leaving things out, straighter paths to power and in short order - she begins to formulate a sort of scientific method of her own, one that strips through to the practice of fundamental operating principles of magic, one that improves her progress an hundredfold by cutting out the inessentials, and at first she thinks she's just doing it better, but soon keen observation leaves her coming to a shock epiphany that - the spiritual or demonic beings manifested by mages appear to her to be probably just effects - not causes at all. And that magic's effective cause appears to have nothing to do with any supernatural deity, or demons, or djinn or angels.
And that the greatest power in the known world, a kingdom with the world's only mage-king installed - a mage who for some reason does NOT find overlordship of puny humans less interesting than practice of magic - a kingdom far away, but with tendrils that snake through other strong kingdoms and into barbarian climes, with influence that levies grudged tribute even from its enemies, a kingdom that while feared and respected by its enemies is generally regarded as a great kingdom, and ruled by a great man -
She begins to fear and suspect that its many practices and vast campaigns, carried out and cloaked in religious motive and justification (as well as strictly kingdom-level concerns, of course), are a force for evil in this world - its agents and armies, its institutions and offices, its embassies and missionary outposts in fact may do more considerable harm than good - harm that the world writes off, as being in general accord with its own beliefs, practices and superstitions. But our hero now sees that - whatever the motives or intent of the mage-king may truly be, there is such death and oppression carried out in his name and under his banner, and there is more death and more oppression carried out in other kings' names and under other banners, all proceeding from the same flawed view of the world, which she has discovered for herself must be wrong.
And therefore, morally: must be opposed.
Already mighty herself, but only newly-mighty and no match to oppose the world, she begins to gather acolytes. Fearful of being herself outstripped, she teaches them a pared, much-blinded version of her method. One that doesn't lay anything fundamental bare, but nevertheless provides practical routes to action and enough of the essential benefits that her followers - converts to her cause, as well as pupils of her school - begin to make a quantum-jump in their own power and progress. As a political point to rally an eventual revolution around, she lets it be known in hints and ways that this powerful magic is firmly grounded in a Greater Truth. A myth of her own making, to be honest (she plays the final truth close to the vest), but the Greater Truth she lets slip left and right is one that, without laying open the secrets of her true method, rejects the supernatural cause. She and her disciples call themselves The Apostarchy.
I WOULD LOVE TO READ THIS!!!! Anybody wanna write it? E-mail me. Some Up-Front Terms (with more to come on the back end, of course):
1. I'm co-author, you can put your name first if you want.
2. I get 51% of all authorial rights, and 49% of all authorial revenues (you get the other half of either), to include, of course, rights of approval over and rights of revenue to all media adaptations and merchandising.
3. No exclusivity. The offer remains open until I get one I like. I don't care how many people create a version of my book, there could be three in print at the same time for all I care! I trust the industry's publishers not to let a big ol' piece of crap through.
4. Getting it published is up to you, motherfucker. That's not my job.
I just thought of something. Every time I ask a question like this it turns out there is already a book like that. If so: sorry.
I guess I could just go read that one. If there is already one.
Except I don't know, man. Most of those kinds of books suck so bad.