In decades past, if one asked readers of fantasy to picture a magic-user, most would envision a figure in medieval garb, wielding a wand or a gnarled staff capped with an orb, and perhaps wearing a pointy hat. Though long a staple of the swords-and-sorcery niche, spell-slingers have proved to be just as much at home in the urban-fantasy subgenre.
There are, of course, as many ways to depict magicians in modern-day settings as there are authors to write them. There are monster-hunters, vampire-lovers, world-jumpers, and countless other variations on the concept. My personal favorite? Big-city magicians as stone-cold badasses, living life beyond the law, in the shadows, and forever skirting the rough edge of self-destruction. Here are five that I love.