Quentin Coldwater probably wasn't expecting much more from his day than an entrance interview to Princeton and an awful lot of boredom and amateur magic tricks, with perhaps a few daydreams about the world of Fillory, a magical kingdom from the books he read as a child. However, things take a turn for the strange when his interviewer turns up dead, and one of the paramedics at the scene decides to hand over some of the deceased's belongings to Quentin; this leads him quite abruptly onto the grounds of the WizardingSchool Brakebills, which, after an especially arduous examination, accepts him as a student. After five long years at Brakebills, our hero drifts in Manhattan as a fully-fledged magician with far too much time on his hands... up until he discovers that Fillory, the world he always dreamed of visiting, is very real- and within reach.

The sequel, ''The Magician King'', focuses on Quentin as king of Fillory along with three characters from the previous book, and on a quest he undertakes for seemingly no reason other than to defeat his own ennui, but quickly turns into something a great deal more serious. This is alternated with the story of Julia's own path of magic after parting ways with Quentin, intersecting at various points with the plot of the first novel.

A third novel, ''The Magician's Land'', is set to be published sometime in 2013-2014.

----
!!Provides Examples Of:

* ActionGirl: You do ''not'' mess with Alice. She's not only powerful and confident in fights, but when she was denied entry to Brakebills, she found out the location of the school and ''broke through its protective magical barrier herself''. She was literally admitted because they had no way of keeping her out.
* AntiHero: Quentin. Type 1. Many his fellow students as well.
* AliensSpeakingEnglish: It's never questioned why the inhabitants of Fillory speak perfect English.
* AsleepForDays: After the climactic battle with [[spoiler: The Beast]], Quentin ends up unconscious for the next six months.
* BalefulPolymorph: Brakebills students in their fourth year are involuntarily transformed into geese so that they can make the long and harsh journey to Brakebills's Antarctic campus.
** Subverted later in the book when Quentin looks back with nostalgia on the transformation. The simple mindset of geese was a relief compared to his borderline abusive training.
** Oddly enough, the first time [[spoiler:Quentin sleeps with Alice is when their class is temporarily transformed into Arctic foxes. It takes them awhile after that to actually do it in human form.]]
* BarrierWarrior: Alice casts Fergus's Spectral Armory which temporarily gives her phantasmal armor and a polearm which fade in and out of visibility.
* BattleCouple: Ana´s and Dint (briefly).
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: Leonardo da Vinci, John Dee, Nostradamus, Roger Bacon and Isaac Newton were all magicians but low level ones who weren't able to keep within the {{Masquerade}}.
* BiggerOnTheInside: Many magical buildings are larger on the inside, such as the cottage that the Physical Kids hang out in. Quentin's copy of "A History Of Magic" appears quite slim from the outside but actually has 1,832 pages.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Arguably, Janet.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:Alice is dead, Quentin is traumatized, and Fillory is no better than the real world...but it seems there may be hope, for Quentin personally and for Fillory's national future, when Quentin and his friends decide to return and take the throne.]]
** Ditto for the second book: [[spoiler: Quentin is left behind as dryad Julia, Bingle, and Abigail the sloth descend into the Far Side, a new version of Fillory in the process of being created. Quentin was eager to go but was not allowed because he had already used his passport to travel to the Underworld. Then, he gets kicked out of Fillory by Ember, the god of Fillory, because he took the blame for Julia, who contributed to the events that almost caused the Fillory to be destroyed. On top of all that, Josh and Poppy, the girl Quentin has been sleeping with and who had previously refused to stay in Fillory with Quentin, decide to stay in Fillory as king and queen, now that Quentin and Julia are leaving. The only upside is that Quentin is given a magic button that will take him to any world except Fillory, supposedly.]]
* BrilliantButLazy: Elliot is a mild example. He's a natural at magic and would be best in the class if only he applied himself.
* BrokenAce: Alice.
* CanadaEh: Near the beginning of the first book, two people taking the test are said to have come from 'the same Inuit reservation in Saskatchewan'. There are no Inuit reservations. And if there were, they wouldn't be in Saskatchewan.
** [[AWizardDidIt Maybe it's an all-magician Inuit reservation that's hidden from muggles by the masquerade.]]
** Then again, the narration ''is'' Quentin's perspective, and he's already established to be prone to social ineptness and misunderstandings.
* CelebrityParadox: A contradictory example surrounding C.S. Lewis and Christopher Plover. WordOfGod says [[http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/a-brief-guide-to-the-hidden-allusions-in-the-magicians here]] that in the Magiciansverse, C.S. Lewis was never born. If he had he and Christopher Plover would have collapsed into each other and formed a space-time singularity. But Plover's defictionalised real life website says that he's one of the founders of the modern English fantasy tradition along with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkein.
* ChekhovsGift: Subverted. A river nymph gives Quentin a silver horn, apparently for use in "break-glass-in-case-of-emergency" situations. Actually, [[spoiler: it summons the BigBad]].
* ChekhovsGun: The cacodemons.
* ChekhovsSkill: Subverted. [[spoiler: The disciplines seem to be this, but they never really amount to much in the first book. We're only ever told what Penny's and Alice's are, and only Penny's seems to come in useful. This is somewhat justified in story, as its basically said that the theory behind dividing students into disciplines is weak, and it often means very little beyond a student being slightly better than another student at some particular spells.]]
* {{Crossover}}: WordOfGod [[http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/a-brief-guide-to-the-hidden-allusions-in-the-magicians says]] that the Neitherlands was either built over The Wood Between the Worlds from ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'' or that the woods will eventually grow over The Neitherlands. In the second book Josh says he visited a world in the multiverse that was inhabited by ''Series/{{Teletubbies}}''. [[http://sf-fantasy.suvudu.com/2012/03/cage-match-2012-round-1-julia-versus-kull.html In this story]] Julia fights {{Kull}}.
* DeadlyUpgrade: [[spoiler:Alice uses the usually accidental niffin transformation this way.]]
* {{Deconstruction}}: Can be seen as a deconstruction of the Harry Potter series, in that it explores the realities of what an elitist magical academy might be like, as well as the effects on our protagonist, Quentin. At some points it also manages to make magic seem well, magical again, for example when [[spoiler: Professor Myakovsky reverses entropy as a class demonstration, or Quentin's first piece of magic]]. Quentin can also be seen as a deconstruction of the sort of person who wishes he could enter a fantasy world, given that he ends up dissatisfied with just about everywhere he goes- to the point that Alice eventually calls him on it.
** The realm of Fillory may also be a [[AscendedFanfic deconstruction of Narnia]], or at least the idea of a magical world to escape to, as it is pointed out repeatedly that their world is not a plaything.
* {{Defictionalization}}: [[http://christopherplover.com/ Christopher Plover]] and [[http://www.brakebills.com/index_real.html Brakebills]] both have their own websites.
* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife: Quentin. And How!
** Julia also fits this in the second book, though her route is outside of the magical mainstream.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters: The first half of the first book is about the titular Magicians' time in magic school. While interesting in it's own right, and important in that it sets up the characters, who are very well developed and realistically drawn, the plot doesn't really pick up motion until Penny shows up with the [[WarpWhistle Button]]. Also, as a whole the group isn't exactly overflowing with the most admirable or heroic qualities.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: After [[spoiler: punching out one of the apparently all-powerful guardians of Fillory]], the Beast provides an explanation.
-> "It's a funny thing about the old gods. You think that just because they're old, they must be difficult to kill. But when the fighting starts, they go down just like anybody else. They're not stronger, they're just older."
* EducationThroughPyrotechnics: Or education through turning people into animals. Whatever works.
* {{Expy}} The rams, Ember and Umber, stand in for [[CrystalDragonJesus Aslan]].
** Likewise, the Watcherwoman is one for the [[BigBad White Witch]]. [[spoiler: Up until Quentin finally meets her, whereupon she's revealed to be an expy of Lucy Pevensie.]]
* {{Flight}}: One of the powers that Quentin and the other Physical Kids have mastered by the end of the book.
* {{Fireballs}}: One of the first battle spells our heroes learn is fireball.
* FiveManBand: The Physical Kids:
** TheLeader: Janet (Type III, takes the lead when they have to form a welters team, rather bossy, and despite her lesser qualities she's also probably the most loyal to the group as a whole)
** TheLancer: Eliot (attached to the hip with Janet, more laid back but wields the authority of "cool").
** TheSmartGuy: Alice (comes to school already knowing several advanced incantations, extremely studious) .
** TheBigGuy: Josh (large in size, and capable of extremely powerful magic...when he actually manages to cast a spell that is).
** TheChick: Quentin (oblivious to any possible negative tension within the group, the only one to really believe in magic according to Alice).
* FreudianExcuse: We learn that [[spoiler: Martin Chatwin]] was molested as a child--by the future author of the Fillory series--and only entered Fillory in an attempt to escape.
* FunctionalMagic: Magic is highly technical and rules-based. Magicians cast spells by saying a string of words (many of them in obscure, dead languages) and performing a set of complex [[MagicalGesture Magical Gestures]]. New magicians must also memorize huge books full of Circumstances that change how a spell works, from the phase of the moon to the weather.
* FunnyBruceLeeNoises: Invoked by Quentin to knock open a door.
* {{Golem}}: In her fight with [[spoiler: The Beast/Martin Chatwin]], Alice turns the sand in the room into a glass golem.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Alice becomes a niffin to destroy Martin.]]
* HitlersTimeTravelExemptionAct: Not Hitler himself, but [[spoiler:Martin Chatwin. There's apparently no time line where he does not go to Fillory]].
** Possibly justified, on the grounds that [[spoiler: Jane Chatwin was only given the time-travel watch because of Martin's rise to power in Fillory. Therefore, the range of universes she could create would be limited to ones in which Martin went to Fillory and made it possible for her to time travel in the first place. If this analysis is correct, it would effectively be a case of Stephen Hawking's "cosmic censor" stepping in to prevent a GrandfatherParadox from arising.]]
* HotWitch: Alice and Ana´s. Also "the paramedic", AKA [[spoiler: Jane Chatwin.]]
* HufflepuffHouse: There are many other schools of magic. Only one student from one of them appears more than once.
** Similarly, the other Disciplines of magic: the only one formally introduced is Physical Magic. The others- Nature, Illusion, Healing, Psychic, Knowledge, etc- are only given a few fleeting but tantalizing references.
* HumanoidAbomination: The Beast (a.k.a. [[spoiler: Martin Chatwin]]) is at first believed to an extension of something [[EldritchAbomination even worse]] investigating our dimension. [[spoiler: It's actually a human that spent too much time in Fillory. Not that that's any better.]]
* ImAHumanitarian: The Beast.
* ImprovisedGolems: During the final battle with the Beast, Alice uses sand to conjure up an improvised glass golem.
* ItOnlyWorksOnce: The Cacodemon tattoo.
* IWishItWereReal: Quentin daydreams about Fillory turning out to be real. [[spoiler: It eventually does, and Quentin starts learning to be careful what he wishes for.]]
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Prospective students who fail the Brakebills entrance exam have their memory of the encounter erased. However, [[spoiler: this fails in the case of Julia, which nearly ruins her life]].
* LeftJustifiedFantasyMap: Found in the front of the book.
* LikeRealityUnlessNoted: [[WordOfGod Word of God]] says [[http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/08/a-brief-guide-to-the-hidden-allusions-in-the-magicians here]] that everything (including Literature/HarryPotter books) that exists in real life exists in the Magiciansverse apart from TheChroniclesOfNarnia and C. S. Lewis which are replaced by "Fillory and Further" and Christopher Plover.
* LongingForFictionland: Quentin dreams of making it to Fillory. [[spoiler:He eventually succeeds.]]
* MadeOfIron: According to Dean Fogg, cacodemons have skin like iron and may actually be made from iron.
** In Fillory, they actually fight a giant made from red hot iron. Josh manages to defeat him by summoning a miniature black hole to suck him in.
* MagicAIsMagicA: Magic seems to follow it's own internal rules, some of which the protagonists and magical society at large seem to know, and some that they don't, for example the "turtles all the way down" speech Quentin and his friends get at the start of their first class. But if you know the spell you're using and the Circumstances where you are,and preform the spell correctly then you'll get a predictable result- [[spoiler: the Circumstances are so idiosyncratic that the students have to basically be imprisoned in Antarctica for a term repeating spells until they internalise some of the "grammar" of magic]].
* MagicIsEvil: Emily Greenstreet [[NeverMyFault firmly believes this]], due to a number of events that were [[NeverMyFault mainly her fault]]. Quentin also briefly holds shades of this belief until Emily blames [[spoiler: Alice's death]] on magic as well and [[YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame congratulates him on leaving magic behind.]]
* MagicMisfire: Casting advanced spells when upset will generally result in the caster transforming into a creature of pure magic (called a niffin), with lethal results (both for the caster and for anyone in the way).
* MagiciansAreWizards: Quentin accidentally does real magic while performing sleight-of-hand coin tricks, which is what initially attracts the attention of Brakebills. It is also mentioned that some hedge wizards make a living as stage magicians.
* MagicalLand: Fillory. Unsurprisingly, it operates on NarniaTime.
* MagicalNativeAmerican: Professor Foxtree.
* MagicVersusScience: Quentin and his friends are urged at the beginning to think of their studies as a purely practical course with a minimum of theory. Apparently many magicians have tried and failed to unearth the roots of magic. But they do have an understanding of the Circumstances,[[spoiler: Alice and Penny manage to cobble together offensive spells from books]], and in a conversation Alice says that spells demonstrably pull energy from the environment to work, though how or at what distance isn't specified. [[spoiler: The Physical discipline of magic, which Quentin and his friends are in, specializes in messy practical magic that is based off of Physics.]] So it's unclear how much understanding they have,but it seems like a lot of work was done to get that understanding and work is still being done to expand it, and it's mentioned that some of the new magical research being done involves using recent scientific discoveries. ScienceIsWrong is averted, it's more that figuring out magic seems to be a lot harder than gravity. It also has the EMP effect, Brakebills has only one games console that's hidden in a closet and it switches off if anyone casts a spell near by.
* MagicWand: Dint uses one. Almost nobody at Brakebills does except as a particularly embarrassing crutch for magical power. The only witnessed uses outside Fillory are in first year, in which Surrendra draws invisible sigils in the air with a willow wand as part of a spell to slice a marble in half, and as part of an extremely mundane spell used for making shapes from fire with the aid of specially-prepared wands.
* {{Magocracy}}: The Magician's Court which punishes magical criminals is mentioned.
* MalignantPlotTumor
* MakeAWish: [[spoiler: When Quentin finds the Questing Beast, he is granted three wishes, though there are apparently limits to what he can wish for.]]
* MasterOfIllusion: The discipline of Illusion Magic is all about this. Though only addressed in passing, the Brakebills Illusionists are skilled enough to make sure that nobody really knows where they gather.
* MedievalStasis: Fillory.
* MegaNeko: A giant cat is one of the many monsters that attacked the gang in Umber's Tomb.
* {{Masquerade}}: The school's mysterious nature is hidden by magic, as are many other magical locations.
** The sequel adds a second masquerade of hedge witches and various fair folk that the Brakebills magicians don't know about.
* MotivationalLie: As Alice uses a [[PsychicPowers psionic]] magnifying glass to burn through the door to the Physical Kids' house (an unofficial entry exam), Quentin watches her progress for her and exaggerates how close she is to the end.
* {{Muggles}}: Most people simply don't have the particular aptitude for magic: either they're not intelligent enough, they don't have the capacity for spellcasting, or they simply weren't able to pass the entrance exam. [[spoiler: Although a childhood crush of Quentin's fails the exam for Brakebills, she becomes a hedge witch.]]
* NarniaTime: The Neitherlands and Fillory.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: For much of the first book, Quentin is more liability than asset.
* OneHourWorkWeek: Magicians that leave the magical world tend to find employment in businesses that are enchanted to diguise the fact that none of them actually do anything. [[{{Hypocrite}} Emily Greenstreet]] is one of these types, as is Quentin at the end of the novel--before [[spoiler: his friends invite him back to Fillory.]]
* OneWingedAngel: [[spoiler: Alice's transformation into a niffin: "Do you think you're the biggest monster in the room?" A rare example of this trope in that a) it's used by a good guy, and b) it actually wins the fight.]]
* OurDemonsAreDifferent: Cacodemons are imprisoned in a tattoo on the magician's back the night before they leave Brakebills. They can be released once using magic words and will try to kill whatever is in front of the magician.
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions: Christian magicians are extremely rare, Richard is an exception.
* PortalNetwork: The City the [[WarpWhistle button]] teleports to, which contains an infinite number of {{PortalPool}}s, in the form of fountains.
** The second book has a network of magic mirrors throughout Earth, used by hedge witches.
* ReedRichardsIsUseless: Averted; after leaving Brakebills, some adult magicians promote the success of humanitarian causes or prop the balance in failing ecosystems.
* SanitySlippage: Students attending Brakebills's Antarctic campus tend to go a little bit crazy due to the magical restrictions on speech.
* ShapeshifterBaggage: At Brakebills South, Quentin learns how to turn into various animals and finds out that much of the trick is shedding, storing and restoring the difference in body mass.
* ShoutOut: [[ShoutOut/TheMagicians Deserves its own page]]
* SufficientlyAnalyzedMagic: The method of teaching magic fits this to a T. The analysis is so single-minded that only the most intelligent and obsessed candidates can even manifest the simplest magic consistently.
* SummonMagic: A salamander is summoned during a Welters match; at the end of Quentin's time at Brakebills, Dean Fogg summons cacodemons this way.
* SupernaturalMartialArts: Fen's martial art "inc aga" was a hybrid technique of martial arts and highly specialised spellcasting style.
** A side effect of Fergus's Spectral Armory is that it gives the castor gives knowledge of martial arts while it's in effect.
* TeenGenius: A requirement to attend Brakebills, but Alice stands out even more than most.
* {{Telepathy}}: Apparently the main purpose of the Psychic discipline.
* TheKingdom: The realm of Fillory: two kings and two queens.
* ThisLoserIsYou: Do you enjoy escapist fantasy? Ever long for adventure, magic, and whimsy? Then you must have a ''lot'' of issues--in fact you might just be a depressive malcontent at odds with just about anywhere you end up--at least if you're similar to the protagonist of this book.
* TimeStandsStill: When The Beast first appears, he stops time for everyone in the classroom but him; unfortunately, [[AndIMustScream the students are still very much aware of the passage of time]].
* TookALevelInBadass: Quentin, when we he walks naked to the South Pole. He levels up again after he [[spoiler: studies magic by himself in the Centaur monastery]]. Also Alice, when [[spoiler: she fights Martin Chatwin]]. At the end of the book, [[spoiler: Eliot, Janet and Julia]] appear to have leveled up dramatically too.
** Done literally in book two - the hedge witch network use actual levels - tattooed on their bodies in little stars - as they learn more magic. [[spoiler:Julia finds the Level {{Cap}} of this - 250 - and a group of brilliant magicians who are all far beyond it.]]
* TwoGuysAndAGirl: The initial setup with Quentin, Julia, and James. Quentin, Alice, and Penny may be considered this trope as well.
* TwoPartTrilogy: WordOfGod says that The Magicians was never meant to have any sequels but then he imagined Quentin having a ''Literature/TheVoyageOfTheDawnTreader'' style adventure on Fillory's seas which inspired him to write two more books.
* VainSorceress: Subverted. Emily Greenstreet tries this, with [[NightmareFace horrific consequences]].
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: During their time at Brakebills South, Quentin and the other fourth-years learn how to transform into polar bears and arctic foxes. Unfortunately, TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody, resulting in much awkwardness when they return to human form.
** Later on, Alice shapeshifts into many different forms during the battle with [[spoiler: Martin Chatwin]], including that of a lion, a giant scorpion, and a dragon.
* WackyCollege
* WarpWhistle: The Button(s) act as this - if things start going really wrong they figure they can just use it to telaport back to the [[PortalNetwork City]]
* WasOnceAMan: [[spoiler:The Beast/Martin Chatwin]]
* {{Whatevermancy}}: When Quentin finds out his Discipline is unclassifiable, he says "I'm a nothingmancer. I'm a squatmancer."
* WizardDuel: Largely averted, particularly in the case of Quentin and Penny's first punch-up. According to Gretchen, it's believed that Welters was created as a substitute to dueling, as students kept killing each other. Meanwhile, Battle Magic such as fireballs and magic missiles are illegal and cannot be taught on Brakebills campus for this very reason.
* WizardingSchool: Brakebills, a magical university. Its mentioned that there are others in other countries. The hedge witch safe houses in the sequel also count.
* WizardNeedsFoodBadly: Cited, verbatim, by Josh [[spoiler: after Quentin arrives back at Brakebills from Antarctica.]]
* WizardsFromOuterSpace: One of the careers for an adult magician to choose is to live in Earth's orbit protecting the world from asteroids, cosmic radiation and solar flares.
* WrongContextMagic: Bigby (a pixie) can do a different type of magic that makes the other teachers uncomfortable. Julia in the sequel does a different type of hedge witch magic that Quentin can't do.
* WrongGenreSavvy: Most of the young magicians think that visiting Fillory means they're in a children's fantasy story. Accepting a quest from a stranger should be safe and fun, right?
* YourCheatingHeart: [[spoiler: Quentin and Janet]].

!!The sequel has examples of:

* AscendedToAHigherPlaneOfExistence: At the end of the book [[spoiler: Bingle, Abigail the sloth, and Julia journey to the flip side of Fillory, and as yet to be created world, which is said to be an improved upon version of Fillory, in the same way that Fillory is an improved upon version of Earth.]]
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: [[spoiler: In the final chapter of Julia's flashbacks, the Free Trader Beowulf Group try to summon a god as part of their ongoing attempt to become gods themselves. Unfortunately, the god that answered kills all but two of them, before giving one of the survivors (Julia) exactly what the group wanted- by raping her.]]
* BrokenBird: Julia is seriously messed up. When we find out why, it's understandable.
* [[spoiler: DoubleStandardRapeDivineOnMortal]]: Subverted [[spoiler: when Julia offers herself to Reynard the Fox to save her friends. She meant she offered to die in their place... he interpreted it in a different way.]]
* [[spoiler: DroppedABridgeOnHim: The sullen Benedict appears to be gearing up to become a hero after a year of questing and training with a master swordsman. However, just when it looks like he's going to fight his first proper battle and prove his worth, he dies - shot through the throat before he can even reach the enemy. Even Benedict's ghost thinks this was an undignified way to go.]]
* EarnYourHappyEnding: For several of the main characters [[spoiler: Julia especially, but Quentin in a deeper, more profound way]].
** The Free Trader Beowulf group are trying something similar [[spoiler: by summoning up a god in order to become one]]. It doesn't [[EldritchAbomination quite]] [[AdultFear work out]].
* FantasyKitchenSink: When the Free Trader Beowulf group are interviewing supernatural beings, they come across a whole weird slew of them, and then contemplate checking out Greece for a wider reference pool.
* TheFogOfAges: When Quentin [[spoiler:discovers the sixth key,]] the man guarding it launches a fireball at him (which misses) and then throws a knife at him (which is even further off target) before remarking that he doesn't even know why he is fighting.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: When Julia is depressed over not making it into WizardingSchool, her mother asks her if [[spoiler:she's been raped. Guess what sends her into an extended HeroicBSOD later in the book?]]
* GenreSavvy: All over, really, but called out a few times. The group didn't split up to search a house because it "would have violated the basic teaching of every movie ever made."
* HarpingOnAboutHarpies: Josh has sex with one of these on a Greek mythology themed world, and has the scars to prove it.
* HairRaisingHare: The Seeing Hare.
* HeroicSacrifice: Discussed a lot. Quentin learns what being a hero really means the hard way.
* [[spoiler:TheMagicGoesAway: What the heroes find themselves working to prevent.]]
* NayTheist: [[spoiler: The Free Trader Beowulf group and the Order]], who both regard gods as magicians who use a more potent but not fundamentally different form of magic. [[spoiler:The former group even tries to gain access to the gods' magic, with catastrophic results.]]
* TheOldGods: Referred to by name. They've found out about [[spoiler:the magic leak]], and they're out to fix it.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: [[spoiler: The Dragon of The Grand Canal]]. Quentin explicitly mentions that he finds it disappointing that not all dragons are the fire-breathing marauding type, and that fantasy books set him up for disappointment.
* PettingZooPeople: [[spoiler: Reynard the Fox]]. The effect in an otherwise non-furry real world is [[EldritchAbomination horrifying...]]
* TheQuest: Part of it takes place in Fillory, so, of course. This one involves seven keys and the stakes are higher than ever.
* RapeLeadsToInsanity: Justified. [[spoiler: Julia goes completely bonkers after Reynard the Fox rapes her, but that has as much to do with him stealing her soul in the process as the rape itself.]]
* RefusalOfTheCall: Despite feeling that he shouldn't, Quentin declines the quest that the clock tree is obviously a part of in the first meadow. [[spoiler: Later averted, as when he returns to Fillory he finds Eliot in the midst of the quest that the clock tree meadow started, and Quentin joins the quest-in-progress.]]
* RefusedByTheCall: Julia.
* SingleBiomePlanet: Josh describes a few of these. When Quentin asks him about it he says he never walked more than a few miles from his starting point on each world.
* TalkingWeapon: One of the competitors in Quentin's tournament is an intelligent sword. Interestingly, it needed someone to wield it in order to fight.
* TitleDrop: Quentin's internal monologue talks about how it feels to be a Magician King when he battle magics his way through a castle.
* TookALevelInBadass: Despite being more or less ineffective in the fight scenes of the previous book, Quentin absolutely demolishes any opposition put in front of him.
** Julia, the hedge-witch, has become more powerful in many many ways than the Brakesbills kids, and over the course of the book we learn how she leveled up and [[spoiler: by the end she's taken the ultimate power up by becoming a demi-goddess]]
** Also Josh, to a lesser extent. [[spoiler:He's set himself up in Venice as The Fixer, a go-between between the "official" magical world and the underground.]] He's also noted to have become more confident in his magic and we learn has been through some intense shit himself.
* TwoLinesNoWaiting: Alternates between the present day following Quentin and what happened to Julia during the first book; the two plots mirror each other.
* UnreliableExpositor: The fairy tale about the seven golden keys is wrong on a couple key details. [[spoiler:The evil witch the man was trying to save his daughter from was his wife, and the mother of his child. When he completed his quest, his daughter didn't even remember who he was.]]
* WeHardlyKnewYe: [[spoiler: Jollyby, the Master of the Hunt, is killed within a few pages of his introduction.]]
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: We still don't know what Quentin's Discipline is...
* SequelHook: [[spoiler: Quentin is left with the keys to the multiverse (except the one bit of it where he actually even kind of wants to be; though the entire point of the series is that, really, Quentin would never ever ever be happy anywhere, anyways) and a SILVER FUCKING POCKETWATCH! What's the only other fucking SILVER POCKETWATCH ever mentioned, anywhere? The time machine destroyed at the end of the first book. This is the author's chance to bring things to a satisfactory conclusion. The series is a deconstruction of the concept of the MagicalLand; the first book's theme is never being happy, no matter where you are; the second books theme is not realizing that you need to stop, that you've got enough; so the third books theme has to be the final reconstruction, the final happy ending: Quentin needs to learn what his discipline is (obviously, time magic) and use the time machine that he's been handed to try to reconstruct his life so that it's perfect. He'll fail, although we will get to see Alice again, and he'll finally learn to appreciate the mundane.]]

!!This work mentions and references:

* ''{{Narnia}}'': The basis of the magical world of Fillory. [[spoiler: Though the real Fillory (and all the counterpart characters) turn out to be a cynical, worst-case-scenario version of a Narnia-type setting.]]
* Literature/HarryPotter: Jason mentions Quidditch, and there are other small allusions throughout.
* Literature/TheOnceAndFutureKing: The part in the first book when the Brakbills students are transformed into geese is a ShoutOut to the Literature/TheSwordInTheStone. The KingArthur mythos, in general, is referred to frequently throughout the second book.
* DungeonsAndDragons: The basis of some spells our heroes cook up and the "level system" used by the hedgewitch safe houses.
* TheMillenniumTrilogy
* LordOfTheRings: Josh wants to see if he can find Middle Earth at the end of the first book.
* ''{{Traveller}}'': The name of the group Free Trader Beowulf (and the text of their recruiting pitch) are direct references to a famous ''Classic Traveller'' scenario--THE introductory adventure for many players in the early 80s once it became clear to GDW that their worldbuilding was as much of a draw as their ruleset.

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