Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

An amulet is traditionally a Charm worn or carried as protection against hostile Magic or specific ills. The scabbard of Arthur's sword Excalibur has traditional amulet-like properties. Lord Dunsany's The Travel Tales of Mr Joseph Jorkens (coll 1931) features an amulet preventing death from thirst: its wearer fearlessly travels the desert and is drowned in a flash flood; he should have Read the Small Print. Angharad's bracelet in Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) protects its child wearer against a Troll-like creature's attack. The six components of the Circle of Signs in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising (1973) are individually amulet-like and warn of, or repel, the Dark. The early Sandman episodes by Neil Gaiman feature a demonic amulet of universal protection. One character in Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards! (1989) has an amulet against the remote eventuality of crocodile bites, and upon losing it is promptly bitten by a crocodile.

Less conventionally, an amulet may be as versatile as a Ring: the half-amulet in E Nesbit's The Story of the Amulet (1906) functions as a Portal through Time; the amulet of Doctor Strange has various mystic powers depending on the needs of Comic-book plotting; that of Slaye in Jack Vance's The Eyes of the Overworld (1966) commands 30 Demons; the eponymous Plot Coupon of Michael Moorcock's The Mad God's Amulet (1968) confers superhuman fighting ability but in bad hands can enslave (see Bondage); the villain of Piers Anthony's Blue Adept (1981) is a prolific creator of offensive amulets that grow and animate as demons; the Dragon amulet in Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds (1984) is nonmagical but serves as the Map of a Labyrinth, and also a key. [DRL]

see also: Talismans.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.