Follow TV Tropes


Spell Book

Go To
A good book is a refuge, but a great book is a fortress.

Spell Books are books with various magic diagrams and incantations, presumably spells, written in them. This is where the resident magic users go when they need to get serious but the spell was just too darn long to memorize. Or if they're trying to preserve magical knowledge and expect to be dead by the time said knowledge is needed. They may also be magic artifacts themselves, imbued with arcane potency, and magic is cast by wielding the book rather than by reading what is written in it.

In Real Life, the Spell Book is called The Manual and allows the user to cast "Tech Support" without use of reagents (although like its fictional counterpart, beware the person who thinks they're a wizard just because they read the book and are eager to try out the powerful incantations therein). In Sci-Fi, the Spell Book may be called by a number of names, but reading Techno Babble aloud from its sacred pages can produce limitless feats of technical wizardry.

People who practice Witchcraft call these things grimoires or Black Books. Also known as a Book of Shadows, they are usually more like commonplace books with collections of incantations, calendars, diagrams, recipes, journal entries, and notes on whether this or that spell worked.

Related to, but distinct from the Great Big Book of Everything which is an infinite source of information. The Tome of Eldritch Lore is also a spell book but has added implications of doom!.

Older Than Dirt, as the ancient Egyptians thought magic could be performed by reading and performing specific incantations, and used collections of written spells in various forms. Writing itself was considered a magic art. Compare and contrast Limited-Use Magical Device, a magical item that only has a limited amount of uses before needing to recharge or becoming completely unusable. Do not confuse with Throw the Book at Them, where the book is a weapon in and of itself instead of just a focus (though they can and do overlap).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Grimoires play a central role in A Certain Magical Index. Reading them without precautions can have severe side effects, and it is stated that they are dangerous even for those trained to handle them.
  • In Black Clover they are referred to by the archaic word "grimoire" and are received by young magic users in a yearly ceremony so that they can unlock their true magical potential.
  • Hayate Yagami's Tome of the Night Sky in Lyrical Nanoha, which went through a period of being a nastier sort of spell book that would gather spells by draining the Mana of others before it was cleansed. Reinforce Zwei also has her own spell book called the Book of the Azure Sky.
    Reinforce Eins: I'm the happiest magical tome in the world.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Multiple:
    • The book of Melusedek which is said to be an Amplifier Artifact capable of making mages unstoppable and muggles smarter; magical text of the highest level. Magical Library that it's located in also has many ancient techniques and spells in the lower reaches.
    • The Thousand Master had a home-made Spell Book, as he was atrocious at remembering spells and would wade into battle with crib notes.
  • Slayers: Lina Inverse learns the Ragna Blade spell from a Spell Book, but she learns it permanently.
  • Tweeny Witches: The True Book of Spells is the only book to list every spell a witch can use, as well as one of the items the warlocks need to cast dark magic. Before it goes missing, it enables Arusu to use magic without using a fairy's body part. Her father gave it to her for her 5th birthday even though it should've been impossible for an ordinary human like him to own something of magical origin that the grand master states had been stolen 14 years ago.
  • Zatch Bell!: A cornerstone of the plot. Each of the 100 demons/mamodos sent to Earth for the battle has a book that's tied to their magic, and only someone whose heart resonates perfectly with the demon's can read it and unleash the spells within. The book's magic allows for borderline telepathy between partners with a strong enough bond and turns the emotion and willpower of anyone who touches it into pure energy to fuel the spells. Furthermore, new spells appear as new power awakens in the demon, and the amount of text on one page that that spell takes up demonstrates how powerful it is; it can be anywhere from one line to the whole page. And most importantly, if the book is destroyed, the demon tied to it loses all claim to the throne and is sent back to the Demon World.

    Comic Books 
  • Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden: Jax took this along with the magic boots and gloves from an old cabin after she went through a door in Realmsend.
  • Marvel Universe: There are at least two major spellbooks — the Book of the Vishanti, containing every light magic spell, and the Darkhold, its evil counterpart. Doctor Strange owns a copy of both.
  • The Warlord: Deimos thinks that he has a Spell Book, but it's actually an ancient technical manual from Atlantis and everything he's doing that looks like magic is actually electricity, holograms, and so on. He calls these texts "The Scrolls of Blood," misreading the title which is actually "Technical Operations Manual, Computer No. B-100-D". (The bigger mystery is how an Atlantean text has a title in English.)
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Circe was viciously looking for revenge on humanity after her Memory Gambit worked too well and she nearly became nice while pretending to be human she came to Themyscira to steal Magala's spell book, as it is the only handwritten and personally researched book as old as her own and is full of unique spells she can use to widen her repertoire.

    Fan Works 
  • Ancient Languages: Some ancient books contain spells in the Sindarin language. One of these books brings Lyla to Rivendell in Middle-earth, the setting of The Lord of the Rings. Because of limits, no one can use the spells except when the plot demands.
  • Child of the Storm has the canon example of the Darkhold that's chock full of dark magic and which is, unfortunately, also an Artefact of Doom and a conduit to the Elder God Chthon. Accordingly, it causes most of the problems of the first book.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Detailed in "Recovering", the Reaper Armor spell was given to Ami in a book with brass bindings, which tells her how to cast the spell, along with how to fight with the scythe the spell provides.
  • Steal the Truth, Reach Out For Your Heart: Unlike most Persona users, Nanako doesn't possess a Persona of her own. Instead, she uses Yu's Compendium and summons the Personas recorded in it, such as Yu's own Persona Izanagi.
  • Vow of Nudity: Fiora's origin story, "Diary of a Catgirl", is named after the book she repurposes into a spellbook after deciding to teach herself magic against the wishes of her clan.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ash in Army of Darkness needs a particular spellbook to get home: The Necronomicon. You know, the same book that awakened the Kandarian demons in the previous Evil Dead movies.
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Miss Price's spells were taken from a very old Spell Book called The Spells of Astoroth.
  • Doll Factory: Kay and her friends bring a spell book to the old abandoned doll factory and decide to perform a ritual from the book there for a goof. The goof was on them.
  • The film Hocus Pocus, where the book apparently had some degree of sentience (it had a moving eye and eyelid). It had apparently been given to the witches by the Devil and was made of human skin.

  • In Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept septology, the Book of Magic plays a central role in the good guys' strategies throughout. Subtle hints in the book suggest it's really an advanced mathematics and science compendium, or an amalgam of science and magic. A robot whose mind is sharing a human body goes from talented but clumsy amateur to the greatest Mage in the world in 5 days using the book. His mother (also a robot) pretty much does the same thing 20 years earlier in less than an hour.
  • Conan the Barbarian: The Book of Skelos is sought by sorcerers throughout the Hyborian world. Within the pages of this forbidding book are spells and incantations to bring the dead to life, control the elements, and to summon extraterrestrial demons from the Outer Darkness, the black gulfs of space, and the pits of Arallu. In Conan's age, only three complete copies are known to exist: one is beneath a royal crypt of Aquilonia (probably guarded by the priests of Mitra), another in a remote temple in jungled Vendhya. The third copy was found by pirates on the Nameless Isle, below an idol of the toad-god Tsathoggua, and brought to Thoth-Amon, master of the Black Ring.
    • Single pages from incomplete copies of the Book of Skelos sometimes also find their way into sorcerers' hands. These usually contain a spell or two, or the true name of a powerful demon. According to Thoth-Amon, at least one incomplete copy exists in Kheshatta, the Stygian City of Magicians. The Book of Skelos is also referred to as the Iron-Bound Book of Skelos. On a small island in the Western Ocean far to the west of the coast of Stygia, the lore of the Black Coast claim that demons guard the bones of the long-dead mage Skelos. It is believed to be inspired by the Necronomicon.
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, Quentin receives his knowledge from such a book. It is written in the language of dreams, and he can only read it while he sleeps.
  • Technically, Willie Connolly's journal in J.R. Lowell's Daughter Of Darkness is a grimoire, although a very irregular and not very explicit one. Uncle Jonathan finds the entries sufficient for him to know what's going on, though.
  • Spellbooks in Discworld are more places where spells live than books they're written in.
    • This conception likely originates in Jack Vance's The Dying Earth.
  • Seen extremely often in the Dragonlance novels. Based heavily on the D&D mythos, wizards in the series memorize spells from spellbooks, written either by themselves or from another source. These spellbooks contain all the information needed about the spell, including the words needed to cast it, any material components needed, and the expected effects (or side effects). This makes books written by particularly thorough or scholarly mages prized commodities, and spellbooks from particular "authors" will have a better reputation. These spells, when cast, are erased from the wizard's memory and must be studied and learned again from scratch before it can be cast again. Powerful and/or wealthy mages can have collections, or entire libraries, of spellbooks, with many wizards rescribing a small collection of especially powerful or useful spells into personal traveling volumes for portability. Wizards can scribe spells onto scrolls, using just the words and in effect "pre-casting" the spell, so that the scroll can be used by any wizard that can read the words, even if the spell itself is normally beyond their skill.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm Queen of the Dead reveals that finding grimoires is how most people get brought into dark magic. There's even an in-universe children's series, Pudgy Bunny, about the eponymous character's adventures doing dark rituals with its forest friends.
  • In The Dresden Files, the Necronomicon once had real power, but the rituals' power loses effectiveness as the number of users increases, making it a literal example of It's Popular, Now It Sucks!. Publishing it widely has rendered everything in it entirely useless.
  • In Rebecca Lickiss's Eccentric Circles, Larkingtower is very protective of his tomes.
  • Caster's magic book in Fate/Zero is his Noble Phantasm. Specifically, it's the Necronomicon, identified as the Spiral Text of the Sunken City.
  • Grimoire's Soul: The main method of using magic in Kesterline and in the world at large is via grimoire, commonly taking the form of an actual book, but also including objects like scrolls, bones, and computer tablets.
  • Given the Wizarding School setting of Harry Potter spell books are text books. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Harry gets an old potions book that belonged to the titular Prince Snape filled with his notes that help Harry pass potions tests and spells that nearly kill Harry's classmates.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell makes a distinction between books about magic and books of magic. The first are generally not written by magicians and are often little more than historical accounts with a magical focus, while the second actually tells you how to perform spells, and are much rarer. Not least because when magic was strongest, very few of its practitioners were interested in recording their knowledge. One plot point is that the titular Mr. Norrell is hoarding all of England's books of magic, in order that English magic can be rebuilt from the ground up, according to Norrell's theories of what magic should be.
  • The Devil's Water Dictionary from Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a recipe book of mixed drinks that grant bartenders magic powers, such as Mai Tai's that allow the drinker to conjure fire.
  • Legends of the Red Sun: In the far future, humans go beyond Magic from Technology and discover that magic is real and the right sequence of words can be miraculous and alter reality. The godlike sorcerer Frater Mercury is the scientist turned wizard who discovered and mastered magic, he would write many of his spells in what's known as the Book of Transformations and create the various inhuman races in the setting.
  • A Mage's Power: Since the most common form of magic is acquired through study and practice, there are a lot of these:
    • Eric receives two of these: The Spirit and Its Power for general spirit powers and Introduction to Magecraft, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Basilard carries around Advanced Magecraft.
    • Nolien has one for his White Magic; it doubles as a medical textbook.
  • In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Prince Rupert uses magical books to win the English Civil War for the Royalists. However, since they are Prospero's books, he must first find where Prospero drowned them and then bring them up from the seabottom. (In this book, Shakespeare is the Great Historian.)
  • The Gray Book from The Mortal Instruments is dedicated to the Angelic Runes used by Shadowhunters, and the Book of White with spells affecting life and death among other things. Shadowhunters and Warlocks are prone to collecting spell books, the former to keep them under lock and key, the latter in order to use them.
  • In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, their mother's books are a source of knowledge for both Kat and Angeline.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon is often used as an example, and in his short story "The Dunwich Horror" Wilbur Whately needs a complete copy because his version is missing a key formula. With his hearty approval, other weird fiction writers of his era used the name, which Lovecraft thought helped make it feel real. It has even appeared in book catalogs and library records.
  • Patricia A. McKillip:
    • In The Bell at Sealey Head, Ysabo's ritual includes turning one page in a blank book every day. When Ridley Dow appears, he shows her it filled with marvelous images and says it is a magic book. It turns out to be the book into which Queen Hydria's court has been enchanted.
    • In The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Sybel steals these from lesser wizards in her quest to learn the true names of legendary creatures. Maelga warns her that she may one day steal from the wrong wizard, but she dismisses the notion. Until it's too late.
  • In C. S. Goto's Dawn of War trilogy, Ahriman reflects on how Magnus outdid the "False Emperor" and how he outdid Magnus — and how he keeps his own Prodigal Sons down, so no one would supplant him. In particular, there is no Book of Ahriman, as there as a Book of Magnus, because he stole it.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Dennaleia finds one the Mynarian library holds that was overlooked (as magic is banned there) from which she gets instruction to manage hers.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, Prospero did not drown his books. Even when he retired, he gave them to his children.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: Every coven has one, which contains generations' worth of witchy spells, incantations and lore. The plot of the first book is kicked off when someone not only murders Olivia, but steals the coven's spell book from her home. They finally recover it in book 3, when they discover it in the Grand Council's library, having evidently been transported there at some point.
  • The Sword of Truth mostly averts this for a magic heavy setting. The Book of Counted Shadows is the most notable example as it is an enormous volume filled to the brim with detailed instructions on performing one incredibly detailed ritual. In terms of training, though, while books are used for ancillary knowledge and other nice-to-knows, actually learning magic is presented primarily as hands-on, with meditation exercises and feeling and manipulating energies exercised and learned over long periods of time. The Wizard's Keep is an enormous fortress containing dozens of overflowing libraries on magical theory and knowledge. Books of prophecy, however, are used by wizards gifted in that branch of magic to trigger a prophetic vision; others can only read the words and make educated guesses at their meaning.
  • Third Time Lucky: And Other Stories of the Most Powerful Wizard in the World:
    • In "The Last Lesson" Magdelene breaks the locking spell which prevents her reading her master's when the story opens, and it turns out he killed his own master for the book.
    • In "Mirror, Mirror, on the Lam" Magdelene stops the Tarzabad-har from summoning demons using a rare spell book (only a few copies are left).
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: Lucy goes inside a magician's house to find a Spell Book so she can make some invisible opponents visible. She's tempted to cast some of the spells for her own benefit (and does so once, to her regret).
  • Young Wizards: The Wizard's Manual is this and a Great Big Book of Everything, as it gives access to every spell ever developed.
    • The manuals are more accurately described as access points to a wizardly database and don't always take the form of books. Some wizards use technology such as laptops and MP3 players, while others (particularly non-human animals) hear it as a disembodied voice or can access it directly as a form of expanded memory. Whatever the form, it tends to adapt its contents depending on its user's specialty and what they need to know. Nita's has a spell for keeping grass short on the page where Kit's shows a method for creating pocket dimensions. A senior wizard using the book format would have several volumes the size of phone books.
  • Xanadu (Storyverse): In "Refamiliarization", the prop book that a character had brought with him while cosplaying as a wizard is transformed into a true grimoire, filled with masses of runes and diagrams describing different spells. His non-wizard friend can't look at its text for more than a few seconds without getting a headache.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Toward the end of Season 6, Willow absorbs a whole bunch of spell books before destroying the Magic Box.
  • Charmed (1998) has the Book Of Shadows, which fulfills this purpose as well.
  • Nowhere Boys features one that is owned by Alice.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch has a big spellbook, though it doesn't tend to do her all that much good.
  • Supernatural has the Book of the Damned, which Sam wants because it could remove the Mark of Cain from Dean. Rowena wants it for more reasons than that.
  • Willow: Willow finds one called the Malatrium that contains a spell to save Graydon from the Gales' possession.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: In the Book of Acts, much of the city of Ephesus (in modern-day western Turkey) was converted to Christianity all at once, and, "Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silvernote ." (Acts 19:18,19 ESV)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica:
    • Lab Texts are the notes that a magus made when they were developing a new spell or magic item. Working from a Lab Text, other magi can learn the spell or duplicate the item in a single season.
    • Summae and Tractatus are instructive books that can be studied for Experience Points. They can be written about almost any ability, supernatural or otherwise, but those on the magical Arts are prized as a reliable way to hone one's expertise without an instructor.
  • Deadlands: The Hucksters carry spellbooks... Hoyle's Book of Games. Turns out Hoyle left coded secrets of magic in the pages, and if you know the key (and are willing to accept the price), you can mimic his better tricks.
  • Dungeons & Dragons is the modern Trope Codifier.
    • Classic OD&D and the first three editions and 5th of AD&D all require the Wizard class and its variants to use spellbooks along with the Vancian Magic system. Certain races, classes, and class variants have dispensed with this requirement, usually at the cost of a reduction in versatility. Generally, divine casters do not use spellbooks, with the exception of the Archivist from the Heroes of Horror supplement that does it instead of praying for spellsnote .
    • In the fourth edition, the Wizard class also has a spellbook, but anyone can learn to use rituals that are long enough to require being put in a book. Also, the Cleric gets a spellbook automatically for rituals and the Swordsage can get a spellbook for spells like the Wizard with a feat.
    • Dark Sun: Since magic (and literacy) are outlawed, Wizards' spellbook equivalents are as diverse as pictogram-inscribed bones or knotted, beaded clusters of string.
    • Epic Level Handbook: Exaggerated with the Last Book, an endless magical tome that a mad demilich has spent thousands of years ceaselessly filling with every spell her organization could find across the multiverse. As a Required Secondary Power, it instantly guides the owner to whichever spell they want.
  • Godforsaken: A Book of All Spells is a heavy tome containing instructions for casting hundreds of different spells, if not far more.
  • Ironclaw:
    • Each spellcaster's (save for Druids and Blessed, who follow oral traditions and don't even need to be literate) trappings Gift includes one copy of a published spellbook. On Elementalism for Elementalists, Thamauturgoria by Kyndranigar the Shadow Magus for Thaumaturge's, an anonymous treatise on Green and Purple magic for Cognoscenti, Ye Book of Black Magic for Necromancers, and a Bible The Testaments of Helloise for Clerics.
    • 1st edition has an advancement system that requires wizards to either find a mentor or read the appropriate spellbook (requiring a literacy check) to improve their spell skills or career trait. 2nd edition converts many skills to perks, including literacy and all spells, and makes the aforementioned trappings the base of each school's spell tree.
  • Mage: The Awakening:
    • Grimoires are enchanted to contain rote spells, allowing a reader to cast the spell as if they knew the rote or adding power to the spell if they already know it. The creator literally transfers the rote from their mind to the grimoire, losing knowledge of the spell until they spend XP to re-learn it. Notably, while learning rotes usually requires a teacher, grimoires count as a teacher for these purposes; in fact, the mage who wrote a grimoire can use the grimoire to relearn the spell.
    • Daimonomicons hold a more powerful enchantment: the magical knowledge for a reader to join a Legacy and learn its Attainments with no need for a mentor. They're relatively rare, due to both the magical mastery required and the fact that the Master-Apprentice Chain is quite important to most Legacies.
  • The backs of Magic: The Gathering cards are meant to invoke the feel of that player holding a spell book. Coincidentally, in-game mechanics refer to the player's deck as their library.
    • There are also numerous artifact cards that represent supplementary spellbooks (like Jalum Tome, Jayemdae Tome, and of course, Spellbook), which work by giving the player faster access to spells (ie, drawing more cards per turn) or in the case of Spellbook, removing the limit on how many spells (cards) you can have access to (have in your hand) at once.
  • Warhammer is full to the brim with spellbooks of one sort or another. There are so many that Tzeentch, Chaos God of Change, under whose auspices magic falls, has created a pair of daemons - the Blue Scribes - to travel the multiverse copying them all out for him. Notable spellbooks include the Book of Hoeth (High Elves), the Nine Books of Nagash (Undead), the Book of Volans (Empire), and the Tome of Furion (Dark Elves).
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Wizards record their spells in grimoires in a Language of Magic and can use them as a reference to learn new magic, but generally don't need them on hand to cast spells they already know. Dark wizards do the same, though their books tend to be physically and mentally dangerous. In 4th Edition, wizards can cast unfamiliar spells directly out of a grimoire with greater difficulty. In all editions, grimoires are rare, hugely valuable, and strictly controlled.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has an entire archetype based on spell books, giving various powers to "Spellcaster-type" monsters in general, but especially the Prophecy archetype organized based on the Major Arcana.
    • In addition to the archetype, there are also the cards "Magic Formula" and the original Yu-Gi-Oh! spell book, "Book of Secret Arts".

  • Ur-example from The Tempest:
    Prospero: [...] I'll break my staff,
    Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
    And deeper than did ever plummet sound
    I'll drown my book.
  • The Grimmerie in Wicked is a spell book, but if you don't have magical abilities PLUS the ability to actually read the book, it means nothing (Yes, it appears in the book too)

    Video Games 
  • .hack//G.U., the second generation of .hack games introduces Shadow Warlocks - an offensive magic class, that uses Grimoires as a weapon. They are contrasted by Harvest Clerics, White Mages, who use Magic Staves instead.
  • Bible Black from the game of the same name. Despite the fact that the spells work, it's just an ordinary book, however.
  • Castle of the Winds uses a method effectively identical to the original Diablo, except there are no levels for spells, though the cost of a spell can do down as one goes up in level.
  • Charlotte from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin uses spellbooks for her default attack. While some (like the Encyclopaedia and Blank Book) are straight cases of Throw the Book at Them, others summon weapons or other entities to attack over short range.
  • In Dark Devotion, the player can obtain various books that allow them to cast spells. they carry these books in the offhand, allowing them to use them in tandem with a one-handed weapon.
  • Dept. Heaven:
    • Books are a class of weapon in Riviera: The Promised Land. No character specializes in them, but Fia and Cierra can make good use of them. Oddly enough, Fia can heal allies with any book, which is otherwise used for offence. Additionally, Lina can throw said books, and still somehow invoke their magic.
    • Nessiah's most treasured possession, the Revelation of the Gods, in Yggdra Union and Blaze Union. He's the only spellcaster to fight with a spellbook instead of a staff (which is plot-important, yes); he is also not above hitting people with it when charging into battle.
  • Diablo:
    • The original game has one of the less abstract uses of the spell book trope in video games. A spell book, when read, simply adds that spell to your repertoire so that you can use it as much as you want in future (as long as you have enough mana). If you find another book of the same spell at a higher level, reading it will let you cast a more advanced version of the same spell.
    • Diablo II bypasses the use of spell books. There are single-use scrolls for certain universal spells (Identify and Town Portal), and if the scrolls take up too much room in your inventory you can store up to twenty of them in a book
  • Disgaea Dimension 2 introduced Books as a new weapon class, their skills allowing the user to "summon" characters that performed an attack. That said, long before Dimension 2 introduced them as a weapon class, Makai Kingdom made use of them for elemental attacks.
  • In Divinity: Original Sin and Original Sin II, "Skill Books" are single-use items that teach a player character the spell or other skill contained within. They're sold by vendors throughout the game; the sequel also allows the PC to create them through Item Crafting, even for skills they themselves don't know.
  • Several enemy mages in Dragon Age: Inquisition wield floating tomes (a first in the series), though the Player Character doesn't make use of them. According to the codex, these books are in fact normal books enchanted with prepared spells, presumably because these so-called Spellbinders don't have the training or experience to make up battle magic on the fly.
  • In the Flash RPG DragonFable, one of the most powerful villains faced in early stages of the game's development had been Xan the Pyromancer, a fire-bending mage whose power had been amplified through his use of an artifact called the Pyronomicon. It was a powerful spellbook that focused on the user's ability to manipulate fire.
    • The Pyromancer Class gives the player a Pyronomicon of their own- a nod to fans of the Mad Pyromancer. It is stated to be a lesser, "second edition" version of the Pyronomicon.
    • During the Christmas event following Xan's initial attempt to destroy Falconreach and defeat Warlic, he finds the "Eggnognomicon," which acts as an Ice-aligned version of the Pyronomicon. It melts when Xan is defeated, much to his dismay.
    • 2016 saw the introduction of a calendar class that also wields a book: Archivist, which uses the Book of Lore to channel skills that throw back to various points in the hero's history, in order to empower the basic attack. It may or may not technically be a spell book in-story, though, since it's apparently also the hero's diary, according to NPC dialogue.
  • Dragon Quest XI: It never comes up in cutscenes like Serena's harp, but Veronica carries a large book that she uses to activate special abilities from her Vim tree. Serena inherits this book after Veronica sacrifices herself at the end of Act 1.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Necromancy (and theoretically all other magic thanks to the Secrets system) is never innate, and must be learned from writing material containing "the secrets of life and death". They can be transcribed fairly easily, amusingly enough, so spellbooks that instantly instill knowledge of immortality and raising the dead into your brain perpetually are something a (once) regular dwarf can just write down. It bears mentioning that books are never the original copy, however; the original is instead a Ten Commandments-esque rock slab inscribed by the necromancer after being struck by divine inspiration by a relevant god.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series, there are spell scrolls which essentially act as one-time-use magical spells which cost no Magicka. The spell is not learned from the scroll, however, and the scroll is destroyed through use.
    • Through vanilla Oblivion, the series lacks true spell books. Instead, spells are taught by purchasing them from a vendor, who presumably teaches it to you directly. That said, magical tomes can be found which lay out the items/actions needed to perform a ritual, such as permanent summoning. (The Player Character is unfortunately unable to perform these rituals, however.) Oblivion's Spell Tomes DLC adds the eponymous spell tomes to the game world which can be read to learn new spells.
    • Skyrim builds onto these spell tomes, which become the new standard way of learning spells. You can now purchase the tomes from vendors or find them in the game world.
  • EXTRAPOWER: The Pyramid Witch Blackberry performs her summon magic by flipping her tome to the appropriate page. Even when Giant Fist gives her a staff for short-range attacks, she keeps her spellbook on hand for her more powerful attacks.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The Final Fantasy Legend and its sequel have books to cast magic. The magically-gifted mutant/esper race can also use naturally-learned magic, but the draw is that spell books (A) have more uses than a natural spell; (B) can be found/bought and replaced; (C) are usually stronger than natural spells; and (D) feature some spells that can't be learned naturally, like the powerful Fog and Prayer spells.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2 Seers and Scholars learn their spells from Books. Since everyone learns their skills from weapons, they can also smack people over the head with their books, too.
    • Scholars return in Final Fantasy XI, and anytime a Stratagem is used, a large black or white tome will appear in midair, pages flying rapidly.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, Arcanists and their Prestige Classes the Scholar and Summoner use Grimoires are their weapon. The Grimoires are made by Alchemists with enchanted ink. In the game's lore, the tomes contain complex mathematic and geometric calculations that help to focus the user's magic.
  • In Fire Emblem, the Spell Books seem to be (or contain) consumables used to cast spells.
    • The third Fire Emblem explained the tome thing as "The basis of Sorcery relies on sealing nature's hidden power into tomes and staves, and freely using those to harness great power." while the ninth and 10th involve short phrases (the only one given are "O light, gather. Open my path..." and "The light of life! Shine a ray upon my path and...strike my enemy!") in the ancient language.
      • Henry and Miriel in Awakening briefly mention how only spells "based on this world's elemental forms" require tomes. Dark Mages can cast curses on their own, essentially replacing tomes with complex rituals. Not that you can replicate this in-game, of course.
      • Fire Emblem Gaiden is the first game where tomes and staves are not used to cast magic; spells are Cast from Hit Points there, suggesting that tomes and staves are used because they're safer, if nothing else.
  • For the King: Tomes are a class of Intelligence-based weapons that deal magical damage (often through various elemental attacks) and usually grant access to various secondary skills, like Protective Charms and battlefield control spells.
  • Journey On: Greater Restore, Dark Flare, and Blood Lust can only be used if Shirley equips the corresponding tomes. However, equipping these tomes keeps her from using a normal attack.
  • Golden Sun: The Tomegathericon in the second game gives the user a unique class with various "evil" spells such as summoning demons and hellfire (shame the balance is heavily skewed towards Attack! Attack! Attack!). The name is a double Shout-Out: to the Necronomicon, obviously, but also to Tau Mega Therion, the Greek name for the biblical Beast of the Apocalypse.
  • Hands of Necromancy have a spellbook as one of the many power-ups, capable of casting Tornado Spells and using them to hurl zombies, demons and enemy cultists a distance away. The pages deplete after each use though - the "ammunition" for this item are depicted as spellbook pages.
  • Several Heroes of Might and Magic games have spellbooks as something a hero needs to equip in order to learn spells, with no real reason not to get one right away, and most heroes on the Magic side come with one anyway. Some artifacts also function as spellbooks, allowing the wielder to cast magic they normally don't have access to.
  • There are a few in Kingdom of Loathing; some are offhand items that increase spell damage, others teach you new skills (and either go on your bookshelf or are consumed upon use).
  • Alexander of Daventry from King's Quest series definitely knows his way around these - he uses them in both of his games.
  • Kirby: Squeak Squad: You can find some "Copy Ability Scrolls" from certain treasure boxes in the game; each of them enhances one of your copy ability, usually in the form of giving you one extra move.
  • The Legend of Zelda has a Magic Book which gives the Magic Wand's attack flame properties. Curiously, in the Japanese version, it's explicitly The Bible.
  • A couple of these turn up as Plot Coupons in the first Majesty game, enabling any hero that picks them up to cast a variety of low-level offensive and defensive spells that are normally only available to the Wizard.
  • Chloe Heartzog equips these as weapons in Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy, and also reads them as a hobby. Her books can summon flying weapons from their pages, serve as a portal for The Legions of Hell, and perform a comprehensive Enemy Scan on monsters. By chewing on them.
  • In Minecraft, with a plain book, some obsidian, and diamonds in hand, you can craft an enchanting table where you can put your hard-earned experience points and lapis-lazuli to get enchantments on your tools, the enchantments being stronger the more bookshelves you put around it. Around the world, you can also find enchanted books that can similarly buff tools when combined together on an anvil (these books can also be created by enchanting ordinary ones on an enchanting table).
  • Monster Hunter (PC) has the grimoire, the only weapon that can vanquish witches, where casting the spell within hostile witches' vincinity will turn them into frogs.
  • The Factor 5/Studio Ghibli DS collaboration, Ni no Kuni, came with an actual "spellbook" as a pack-in. The spellbook will contain instructions on how to cast spells in the game world, as well as providing information on the game worlds themselves. For the PS3 version, the entire book was replicated digitally in the game, with pages becoming available as the story progressed, but players who scored the fairly rare Wizard's Edition also received their own physical copy of the book.
  • Grimoire Weiss of Nier is an exceedingly arrogant, sentient spellbook that absorbs the blood of dead enemies and in return provides Black Magic. It's also responsible for most of the snarky one-liners of the game.
  • Persona: The Velvet Room Attendant's "Le Grimoire", aka the Persona Compendium. It can record the many myths and legends within the hero's mind and summon them. They can also use the tome to fight. First wielded by Elizabeth from Persona 3, then her brother Theodore from the PSP port of that game, then their older sister Margaret from Persona 4, and their little sister Lavenza from Persona 5, although she only fights in the Royal re-release and when transformed into Literal Split Personality twins, the tome becomes a clipboard.
  • In Pillars of Eternity, wizards have a special slot in their inventory for "grimoires": magical tomes that can be "loaded" with the spells the wizard had previously learned. The number of spells a wizard can prepare this way per grimoire is limited, so especially at lower levels, it may be a good idea to carry a couple with different spell selections and dynamically switch them in combat. Furthermore, pretty much the only way to learn new wizard spells is to plunder the grimoires of enemy mages.
  • In some Rogue-like variants a spell-caster must carry around spellbooks for all the spells they want to cast, which both takes up space in a limited inventory and also weighs down the not-physically-strong wizard (books are heavy). In NetHack and its variants, however, the player only needs to hold onto the spellbooks long enough to memorize the spell.
  • RuneScape has two distinct concepts of "spell book": the first is the three "spellbooks", Standard, Ancient, and Lunar, which are more like classes of spells and you can only use spells from one at a time unless you switch between them with the use of special items, spells, or locations. The second is actual books that can be wielded as an off-hand magic weapon to fire offensive spells with, and a couple can be read to learn more about the lore behind them.
  • Sakura Wars (2019): as a practitioner of libromancy, Claris Snowflake's weapon is a grimoire. Her spiricle striker is also outfitted with an upscaled magic tome. Why? Why not!
  • A few areas in Shovel Knight, Pridemoor Keep in particular, feature large bouncing tomes which when struck produce pages around the area that serve as temporary platforms.
  • Smite: The Book of Thoth is a purchasable item for Mages or Guardians that allows them to stack up mana and magic power as they kill minions or other Gods. Later on, the owner of the book, Thoth, becomes playable as a mage who uses the book to read up and launch spells from there.
  • A crucial component of The Spellcasting Series, as Ernie Eaglebeak can't cast a thing unless he's got his spellbook in his hands. Any new spells he finds automatically transfer right onto the pages - unless you forgot to bring it, in which case, the spell flies off into space, and you get to look for the 'load save' button.
  • Leon's weapon of choice in Star Ocean: The Second Story, which summons armed spirits to do the melee attacking.
  • Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Phantasia, Arche learns her spells from various spellbooks. Claus, your other mage, comes to battles equipped with tomes he flips through to summon spirits. He can also use them directly on any enemy that comes close.
    • Tales of Innocence R: Kongwai Tao uses a book as his weapon and attacks by summoning spectral swords from it and hurling them at the enemy. The choice of weapon may be justified by him being a Blue Mage, as he has to store these stolen spells somewhere.
    • Rita from Tales of Vesperia uses books as her secondary weapon. For the most part it's just a Stat Stick, but she still uses it for several melee attacks. She's also shown to read it in her Victory Pose.
    • Tales of Arise has Rinwell, who uses books as her weapon. She can store one prepared spell in it to release it later or combine with other spell to make a stronger one. Curiously, only a handful of her books actually have something to do with magic. The rest are fairy tales, history books, and gardening magazines.
  • Touhou Project:
    • In some iterations, Alice Margatroid uses her grimoire to shoot or cast spells.
    • Patchouli Knowledge does this as well in the fighting games, though she also throws it at her opponents.
    • Byakuren Hijiri stores her spells in a scroll which is itself a spell, taking the form of multicoloured Hard Light symbols stretching between two rods. She can also make it recite spells by itself.
  • Treasure of Tarmin features three particularly useful spell books at the higher levels: one that lets the player see through walls, a second that lets the player transport through walls, and a third that transforms any weapons into a platinum (highest value) version of itself.
  • Twisted Wonderland: In dorm uniform, most dorm leaders' magical pens turn into magic staves. Vil's turns into a leatherbound book.
  • Grimoires in Vagrant Story teach Ashley the spell contained in them when he uses them. Duplicates of the same grimoire are useful up to a point; learning the spell gives you the Level 1 version, and reading a grimoire for a spell you already know improves the spell's level, to a maximum of Level 4.
  • Apparently, human spellcasting classes—some of them, anyway—in the Warcraft 'verse have to use spellbooks. For example, in Reign of Chaos, the Archmage hero model carries a spellbook and staff. In The Frozen Throne, the Farseer Drek'Thar carries a spellbook—not his own, but pieced together from human mages killed during the First and Second War. He gives it to you as a reward for helping him out; it gives the wielder a bonus to mana, a brilliance aura (one of the Archmage's skills), and the ability to use Mass Teleport (the Archmage's "ultimate" spell).
    • There is an (unused in the standard game) spell called Spell Book, which allows you to access several spells through it, bypassing the usual six-ability limit.
    • There is also Medivh's spellbook, which contains great powers in and of itself, playing a central role in both Tides of Darkness and Warcraft III as an artifact desired by those that want to open portals into other worlds.
    • In World of Warcraft, some spell-casting classes get tomes that are held in the off-hand. However, they stay shut and don't give you new spells (though a few of them can be used for special effects). Instead, they passively provide stat bonuses that increase your existing spells' damage or healing.
  • In Warframe, we have the Tome weapon type as of the Whispers in the Walls update, the first of which being Albrecht Entrati's personal book, the Grimoire. It is a weapon type that fits in the secondary slot and has its own set of mods, and is used to fling bolts of Void energy at targets.
  • In Spell Force Conquest Of Eo, you recover your masters' spellbook at the start of the game, but most of the pages are missing and you can't read most of what you have. Recovering lost pages (or finding new ones) and researching them to uncover spells and power is a major focus of the game.

    Web Comics 
  • Hex and Mye of Charby the Vampirate keep a bookshelf full of spell and potion books in the basement next to their cauldron.
  • The first three chapters of Evon are based on the titular character's attempt to steal back her father's spellbook from her evil ex-master. She doesn't need the book to cast spells but studying it allows her to become more powerful.
  • Most El Goonish Shive magic users, in spite of having power origins as widely varied as comic book superheroes, receive a spellbook that spontaneously adds pages to itself whenever they "level up" through a remarkably and regularly lampshadedly straight form of Stat Grinding.
  • Inevitably, The Order of the Stick lampshades some of the counterintuitive oddities of D&D spellbooks.
  • The Aurans of Plume used to have one that let them make a guardian spirit out of Corrick. It seems to remain a significant McGuffin after Auru falls.
  • Sluggy Freelance has the "Book of E-ville" and the "Book of Gud", although the latter is more of a McGuffin than a real book of spells. The former, however, apparently contains numerous spells.
  • Bett in Unsounded casts spells from a (probably stolen) spellbook. Of course, given the way magic works in the setting, this means that he's basically running programs without having any idea how the code behind them works.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-239' spell book is a Magic Feather that the Foundation gave to Reality Warper, SCP-239 to help her control her powers after convincing her she was a witch.
    • Last Appeal of Biphi is a manuscript that is a transcript of the last words of the titular witch as she was burned alive. It was used in a sacrificial ritual by teenagers in the '80s to open the SCP-4971 portal to an extradimensional forest. The Last Appeal was divided into two parts, which the Foundation only has one.
    • SCP-4828 or The Big Book Of Achievable Spells, made easy was confiscated from a previously suspected reality bender who claimed he bought it from The Multistore from Nowhere and Everywhere.
    • The rejected SCP-072-D that made it into SCP-100-J was a Spell Book. Not much is known about it other than it was burned with no complications.
  • The Book of Eleven Hours from The Wanderer's Library, which contains "alchemical processes, written accounts on contact with supernatural entities, and magic rites and rituals."

    Web Videos 
  • The Music Video Show: The second season introduces this.
  • Part of Dabarella's backstory from Adventure Is Nigh is that she read a necromancy spellbook after mistaking it for a cookbook. She was looking for cookie recipies.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, along with being a Great Big Book of Everything, the Great Book of Gummi also doubles as this, being the source of Zummi's spells. Several evil witches and wizards desire the Great Book mainly for the magic within it.
  • In Ben 10, Charmcaster's spellbook is kept by Gwen after a body-switching incident. She keeps it and her skills at magic continue to increase throughout the series. The evil sorceror Hex (who is Charmcaster's boss and uncle, though Charmcaster has been a solo act of late) has a library full of them.
  • In Defenders of the Earth, Mandrake owns a large collection of sorcery books, which are off-limits to Kshin and, by implication, the rest of the Defenders apart from Mandrake himself. The plot of the third episode in the series involves Kshin disobeying this rule in a misguided attempt to teach a gang of bullies a lesson.
  • DuckTales (1987): Magica De Spell is sometimes seen consulting one. In "Magica's Shadow War" she reads off a spell that backfires on her as well as causing plenty of trouble for Scrooge.
  • Gargoyles, the Grimorum Arcanorum was very powerful and used several times by the mortal mages, including the recurring antagonist, Demona. The Archmage heavily sought it, and the Magus was rendered virtually powerless when he had to give it up to enter Avalon.
  • In Gravity Falls, the three Journals contain, among listings of the strange phenomena in surrounding the titular town, several spells that are used throughout the show.
  • Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has been known to look up powerful spells in books (like the "Glimmer Wings" spell in "Sonic Rainboom", or the spell in "The Best Night Ever" that lets her turn an apple into a coach). Episodes where spell books are particularly important to the plot include "Magical Mystery Cure", where an unfinished spell from Starswirl the Bearded's book swaps everypony's cutie marks (and roles), and "Inspiration Manifestation", where Rarity gets possessed by a spell from a mysterious, ancient spell book.
  • In The Smurfs, Gargamel is the owner of the Great Book of Spells, which he occasionally turns to when his own magic abilities and knowledge aren't enough to help him catch the Smurfs.
  • Subverted in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM). The wizard Lazaar had a computer of magic spells, but it is functionally identical beyond the user interface.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, the Butterfly family's book of spells has the entire family's magic knowledge inside it, along with a familiar attached to the book, Glossaryck. Toffee later destroys the book, leading Star to create her own book of spells that she invented.
  • Ultimate Book of Spells is a cartoon about a talking spellbook.

Alternative Title(s): Spell Books


Martin the wizard

Martin wakes up as a stereotypical wizard with a robe, pointed hat, and beard.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / WizardClassic

Media sources: