All That Glitters is Not Gold: Magical Currencies

Posted March 17, 2018 by Amber in Bookish Things / 2 Comments


If you’re in a fantasy novel, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not dealing in USD or GBP.  One of my favorite things about writing fantasy is how simple the currencies are.  When I’m working on The Sin Series I keep it really simple – coin.  My characters deal in bronze, silver, and gold coins.  This is a common trope across fantasy novels (you may recognize it from Harry Potter’s galleons, sickles, and knuts).  As impractical as it is to lug a bunch of metal everywhere, it’s much fancier than Republic Credits, per se.

What really grabs me in fantasy novels, though, is their sub-currencies.  The type of things that people consider valuable, but they aren’t government represented money.

The Name of the Wind is amazing at this.

For all the fantasy I’ve read, I’m surprised people don’t use the bartering system more?  Patrick Rothfuss uses a lot of old school fantasy tropes, and I love it.  Kvothe barters with a tinker and acquires a valuable loden stone.  He takes out a loan and trades her his blood.  Blood magic is serious business – that was a stressful trade for me.

Ace of Shades is doing something a bit new, though.

In chapter two, when you meet Levi, you’ll also learn that he is trading in volts.  Volts are exactly what you’re thinking – tiny little volts of electricity.  This isn’t really a spoiler, because at this point I don’t even know much about it.  Only that they are high valuable and can be carried in orbs or in the skin.

Is that not the coolest, most potentially dangerous currency you have ever heard of?

I can’t wait to hear more about this strange, new, valuable currency.  I have a feeling our characters are going to get in a lot of trouble over it.


What magical currency is your favorite?  Is it something you’ve never really thought about?  Share your feelings in the comments!

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2 responses to “All That Glitters is Not Gold: Magical Currencies

  1. Great Post! I have never really thought about it before but its so true! Usually, if they bother with a money system at all, it is just three coins, or some sort of trading system. The lightning bolts seems super cool!

    • Amber

      I thought it was super creative! There’s a whole system about making them as well and it really only scratched the surface. 🙂