The characters of The Magicians by Lev Grossman. All residents of Brakebills, Fillory, and beyond go here.As usual, beware the MASSIVE SPOILERS contained therein for both The Magicians and its sequel The Magician King.
open/close all folders
Introduced in The Magicians
The Physical Kids
Intelligent, but deeply dissatisfied with reality (and pretty much anywhere else he ends up), Quentin believes that becoming a magician or reaching Fillory will solve all his life's problems and make him happy. It doesn't.
Acquired Situational Narcissism: It's a mild case, but he tends to think of himself superior to the inhabitants of whatever world he just left behind; when he's accepted into Brakebills, he looks down on Muggles; when he leaves the magical world, he believes himself more sensible and mature than the magicians who fund his new lifestyle; when he returns to Brakebills after a long stay in Fillory, he gets very vocal in the belief that he and Julia are better than any of the faculty there.
Allergic to Routine: Quentin all but falls in love with Brakebills when he first arrives, and there are enough twists and turns to keep him interested in the first few years; however, by the final year, he's gotten very bored with the place. The same goes for his post-graduate life and his home life with his parents. Eventually, Alice has to call him out on these tendencies when he starts getting irritated with Fillory.
Ascended Fanboy: He was obsessed with Fillory his entire life, and eventually becomes one of its kings.
I Just Want to Be Normal: The aftermath of his journey to Fillory and Alice's death results in a depressive period in which he adopts this mindset, and goes on to believe himself superior to all magicians because of his ability to live in the real world... even though his new lifestyle is funded by magic. It takes his meeting with Emily Greenstreet to make him pull back from the edge.
Innocently Insensitive: At times. For instance, at one point in the second book, he tells Julia that she didn't miss a thing by failing the entrance exam to Brakebills... when Julia had been forced to endure several painful months of depression and Sanity Slippage as a result of her failure, and had become so desperate to learn magic that she prostituted herself to Hedge Wizards and ended up having a traumatising encounter with a monstrous demigod who murdered her friends and raped her. True, Quentin didn't know most of this at the time, but it's still a bit presumptuous.
Man Child: While holding all the intelligence his age and education would suggest, Quentin also has numerous childlike traits, including an aversion to the routine and the mundane, a tendency to act or speak without thinking, and, of course, his obsession with the Fillory book series (which were intended for children).
Magicians Are Wizards: Quentin's first encounters with magic were in practicing sleight-of-hand, accidentally making a coin disappear for real.
Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Her father spends most of his time modifying the family home with magic and making it thoroughly uncomfortable in the process, while her mother spends most of her time working on fairy symphonies which probably don't exist. Alice dreads returning home to them, especially when Quentin decides to tag along.
Cynicism Catalyst: It's actually stated that the death of her older brother, Charlie, was what caused her parent's collapse into eccentricity and Alice eventually leaving home. However, what she doesn't know- until Janet tells her the story- is that Charlie died in transforming into a Niffin shortly after trying to heal Emily Greenstreet.
Light 'em Up: Alice's magical discipline is a form of light-manipulation known as Phosphoromancy.
One-Winged Angel: 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.
The Runaway: After Brakebills failed to invite her, Alice ran away from home and travelled all the way to the campus- even going so far as to travel the last five miles on foot when public transport couldn't get her any closer. To the surprise of the faculty, she actually managed to find her way onto the school grounds, where they reluctantly gave her an entrance exam and accepted her.
Mr. Vice Guy: Eliot spends half his time smoking Merits and seeking out fine wines in Brakebill's extensive cellar. After he graduates from Brakebills, though, he becomes a full-blown alcoholic. It takes the journey to Fillory to get him out of this depressive funk.
Sharp-Dressed Man: Wears expensive shirts with his Brakebill's uniform, complete with cuff links, despite the latter being against the rules and getting him routinely punished. Also, apparently as a child he was once thrown into a dumpster by the other kids because his pants were pressed.
Ascended Fanboy: During the final chapter of the first book, he's apparently using the Neitherlands to reach Middle-Earth, where he hopes to "bone an Elf."
Beneath the Mask: His breakdown during the Welters finals reveals that, under his cheerful exterior, Josh is deeply unsure of himself and plagued by low self-esteem- especially at Brakebills, where he often worried that he'd be thrown out for poor grades.
Big Fancy House: During the second book, it's revealed that he now lives in an extravagant Venetian palazzo.
Inept Mage: As mentioned, he's not the most capable spellcaster out of all the Physical Kids- in fact, his spells have a nasty habit of not working at all. However, when they do work, they're ridiculously overpowered.
Squishy Wizard: Subverted; while not exactly a combat specialist, Josh is strong enough to break up the fist-fight between Quentin and Penny.
Took a Level in Badass: In the sequel, he spent lot of his time between the novels on an adventure through the Neitherlands, exploring, falling in love, and even becoming a hero of sorts; upon his return to earth, he takes this even further by setting himself up as the Fixer, helping to bridge the "official" practitioners of magic with the underground groups. Finally, the ending sees him becoming one of the Kings of Fillory after Quentin is booted out of the country.
Alpha Bitch: In her less-than-pleasant moments, she can come off as this.
Everyone Looks Sexier If French: From one of the European schools, she's first introduced as the captain of another team during the welters tournament. Her accent is described as Pan-European, and all of the boys of the welters teams and some of the girls are immediately smitten with her.
No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: Subverted- Richard believes that magic is "The Tools of God". True to the trope, though, nobody takes this very seriously, partly because Christianity isn't very popular among most magicians, but mostly because of the logical problems of the argument. He's actually more or less right though, it's just that there are more gods than he counted on.
Straight Man: Appropriately enough, he acts as this to Eliot during one notable argument.
Brutal Honesty: One of his specialties. In fact, almost immediately after Quentin awakes from passing the entrance exam, Fogg barely gives him a minute to rub the sleep out of his eyes before dropping bombshells on him. Then, after Quentin and Penny have just recovered from beating the crap out of each other, he shows up to provide a lecture on what would happen if they'd been stupid enough to use combat magic thoughtlessly.
Chekhov's Classroom: He introduces the concept of Niffins, which comes in handy later in the book.
Chekhov's Gift: The Cacodemons he gives to graduating students as a defense mechanism.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Fogg is considered a bit of a joke by the students, who don't get to see him perform much magic over the course of an average day; as such, they're rather startled when he leads the rescue attempt, organising the teachers with great efficiency. The ceremony in which he summons a bevvy of Cacodemons into the graduating students just about seals the deal.
Intangible Woman: When the Faculty was attempting to break the Beast's hold on Professor March's classroom, Sunderland apparently tied to phase herself through the wall to reach the students. It didn't work, which was probably for the best, considering that none of the Faculty would have been able to do much against the Beast had they managed to get into the building.
The Exile: His reassignment is treated more like exile given that he's essentially banished to a remote outpost, alone except for the fourth-year students that are sent to learn from him, and unable to leave- or at the very least, unable to return to Brakebills' main campus except to make sure that the portal returning the fourth-year students has worked properly.
Pet the Dog: A very odd sort; during a particularly grueling stage of Quentin's exercises, Mayakovsky appears with a tray of food and drink and allows him time to recover. Then, just before Quentin digs in, he slaps him across the face and says, "That was for doubting yourself."
Another, more straightforward variety appears at the end of Quentin's final exam, when Mayakovsky actually hugs him.
Reassigned to Antarctica: Literally, in this case. Despite being the most powerful magician on the entire faculty, Professor Myakovsky gets reassigned to "Brakebills South" in Antarctica after the debacle with Emily Greenstreet.
Sadist Teacher: Having the entire attending class muted so as to stop them from being distracted was just one of his ways of tormenting students. True, he does have sympathetic moments, but still...
Wax On, Wax Off: The first training exercises that Mayakovsky gives his students involve repeating a spell to hammer a nail into a piece of wood, eventually moving on to the next permutation of the spell once the first has been well and truly memorised. Quentin even references the Trope by name.
The Caligula: Having declared himself the unofficial ruler of Fillory, he's this from beginning to end.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Very dark example, needless to say; he spends most of his first appearance acting on every single random impulse that crosses his mind, paring his fingernails with a knife, testing magic spells, pausing to devour Amanda Orloff alive and leaving whilst singing a nursery rhyme.
Eldritch Abomination: It's believed that the Beast is just a protrusion of something much worse inspecting our world. This is eventually proven wrong, but to be honest, the reality isn't much better.
The Faceless: The Beast always appears with a leafy branch hovering just in front of his face, and only removes it during the final battle.
Freudian Excuse: Close to the end of the novel, Jane Chatwin tells us that Martin Chatwin was molested as a child -by the future author of the Fillory series- and only entered Fillory in an attempt to escape.
Full-Frontal Assault: Though his body itself isn't so easily destroyed, his clothes are burned away during the magical barrage of the final battle, leaving the Beast to continue his attack stark naked.
Harmless Villain: Adult readers of the Fillory books see her as a bit of a joke, with no real villainous actions to her name apart from her goal of freezing time in Fillory. In fact, the only reason why she's seen as a villain in the first place is because her experiments in time travel were ultimately misinterpreted by the Chatwin children.
Hypocrite: Seems quite content to go through life believing that Magic and its practitioners are the source of all the world's ills while at the same time working a job provided for her by Dean Fogg and enchanted to disguise the fact that she does absolutely nothing.
Never My Fault: Emily blames the death of her boyfriend on Magic, claiming that it would have happened regardless of what she did; however, it's made clear that her boyfriend's death was due to her a) dumping her boyfriend for Mayakovsky, b) accidentally disfiguring herself while trying to make herself more attractive to her new lover, and c) her ex-boyfriend trying to heal her but being too upset to work magic calmly and transforming into a Niffin.
Ascended Extra: In the first book she was a background character, and something of a mystery. In The Magician King the narrative is split between Quentin in the present day and what happened to her during the first book.
Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Already having become a demi-goddess, she eventually goes on to travel to the other side of Fillory, a world yet to be created that is to Fillory as Fillory is to Earth.
Black Eyes of Evil: At one point in the second book, she ends up casting a spell with the side-effect of turning her eyes black- permanently. When she returns to the real world, she has to cover them with a pair of sunglasses.
Sanity Slippage: Given that the memory wipe only partially worked, Julia is lumbered with an entire memory running contrary to both reality and what had supposedly happened on the day of her exam; as a result, she ends up becoming depressive, paranoid, and so fixated on the magical world that she disregards almost all of her college offers. Then, after a brief return to normality, she dives headlong into the deep end of Hedge-Wizardry and joining the Free Trade Beowulf group, which opens her up to further sanity slippage.
Sex for Services: At her lowest point in the first book, she offered to sleep with Quentin in exchange for magical secrets. He refuses, but we find out in the second book that she later successfully made similar deals with several men in the safehouse scene.
Spock Speak: In Quentin's parts of the novel, Julia tends to speak in short, clipped sentences, often without contractions. It's eventually revealed that this is one of the side effects of her continuing transformation into a demigod.
Took a Level in Badass: Made clear when she shows up at the end of the first book as a Hedge-Witch powerful enough to join Eliot and Janet in flying off to retrieve Quentin. The extent of her power and its origins aren't made clear up until the second book, though.
Poppy - an Australian magician
The Free Trader Beowulf group
Denizens of Fillory
Bingles - the best swordsman in Fillory and Quentin's bodyguard