A great mage is an epithet used in the Circle Universe for both academic and ambient mages. Unlike with the Tortallan Universe black robe to denote greatness, the title of great mage is more of a subjective term and given by the populace or by other mages themselves when they come across a certain mage's work.
There are several mages in the series who are considered great mages. People have referred to these characters as great mages in the books.
- Niklaren Goldeye, for his work in sight magic
- Ishabal Ladyhammer, for her work in curse-weaving, general power, etc.
- Frostpine, for his work in metal magic
- Lark, for her work in thread magic
- Rosethorn, for her work in green magic and cure discovery
- Crane, for his work in green magic and cure discovery
These characters are extremely powerful and outstanding in their various fields, but aren't actively referred to as great mages in the books. This does not mean they aren't, it just means the epithet was not used in the book.
- Olennika Potcracker, served the empress and created foods that would change color if poisoned, and roll to the poisoner in question. Jorality Bancanor spoke of her as if she were famed throughout Namorn, which would point to her having the status of a great mage.
- Quenaill Shieldsman, master of shields and traps. Would have successfully kept Briar and Daja imprisoned if they had not joined their power.
- Jumshida Dawnspeaker
- Evumeimei Dingzai, extremely powerful in her own right, she was able to withstand the power of magma spirits, and to redirect those spirits into the sea.
- Pawel Godsforge, extremely likely to be considered a great mage. Master of fire.
- Dedicate Superior Moonstream, powerful healer.
- Dedicate Skyfire, extremely powerful battle mage in his day. Heard of even in Hajra, and Briar Moss knew of him before going to Winding Circle.
- Dedicate Gorse, extremely powerful cook-mage
The four mages
Although the four have been capable of great things, they mostly worked in concert to achieve them, as was pointed out by Empress Berenene. Singularly, they could not stand a chance against Ishabal Ladyhammer or Quenaill Shieldsman, and could only defeat them when working in pairs or more. This will likely change as they grow up and gain more power and knowledge. However, as Tris had pointed out, their magic works differently than the standard academic great mage.
Altogether, they are considered far more powerful than even an extremely strong great mage, and were able to take down the magical border that was brought up between Namorn and Olart that was considered undefeatable.