The Septimus Heap series is a series of Young Adultfantasy novels written by Angie Sage. Like the Harry Potter books, they take place in a rather whimsical fantasy world resembling a sort of mash-up of Medieval European Fantasy and the modern day. Like the Harry Potter books, they do not skimp out on the Nightmare Fuel for young readers.One unfortunate evening, an evil wizard and his underlings invade the Castle of a peaceful, unnamed nation. They murder the Queen and The Archmage of the Castle, the ExtraOrdinary Wizard of the time, Alther. On the same night, a family of Ordinary Wizards, the Heaps, down in the castle town awaits the birth of their seventh son, Septimus. His father, Silas, was also a seventh son, meaning that Septimus will have great power. But he is pronounced dead by the midwife and ferretted away. Instead, the Queen's newborn daughter is thrust into their arms for them to raise as her own. They name her Jenna, unaware that she's the Princess. But not for long; the Heap family must now protect their adopted daughter from the evil forces out searching for her.Cut to ten years later — and now they've been found out. The Heap family is forced to flee their home to protect Jenna. Along the way, they pick up a quiet young soldier boy "named" Boy 412, who joins them in their hideout deep in the marshes. Just from the title of the series alone, you can probably guess who he really is. Overjoyed to have finally found his family, Septimus becomes an apprentice to the most (politically) powerful wizard in the world — and embarks on a slew of adventures with his sister Princess Jenna, his brother Nicko, best friend Beetle, and many, many others. But plenty of ills lurk in the world, wanting to get their hands on either his innate mystic power or his sister's political worth. Including one distressingly close to home...The series consists of seven books, the final title having been published in April 2013:
An eBook novella, The Darke Toad, and a guidebook, The Magykal Papers, are also available.A film for Magyk has been considered since 2007, but casting has not yet begun. In 2012, a major step forward was reported when Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to all seven titles in the series, including the final title, Fyre.Beware of unmarked spoilers. Compare with Discworld.
This series provides examples of:
Abandoned Warehouse: The Port is filled with these warehouses, many the products of the stern Port Customs Office impounding goods and then never get the customs money paid. One of these in Physik has the time travelling Glass.
Abandon Ship: In Syren, when the Cerys gets overrun by the warrior jinn, Milo Banda and the others tries to evacuate the ship. He ends up having to use Jim Knee-turned-into-a-turtle as a liferaft because the rest of his crew escape with the Marauder before they can join them.
Absent-Minded Professor: Marcellus Pye, especially in Queste, for example by constantly forgetting the reason for Septimus’s visits. Explained as a consequence of his age (about 500 years).
Adults Are Useless: Played with. Most of the adults characters aren't useless per se, but the kids are usually the ones who get the important stuff done, and there's been more than one occasion where the adults contribute to problems by refusing to listen to the kids.
Advancing Wall of Doom: The Darke Domaine. If you get trapped in it, you’ll be knocked unconscious. And you'll stay unconscious until the Darke Domaine disappears. Due to it being a few nights before the yearly Big Freeze, some people froze to death because the Darke Domaine got them while they were out shopping.
Aerith and Bob: The Septimusverse features such normal names as Sam and Simon along with more unusual ones as Etheldredda and Septimus.
Afraid of Blood: Merrim Meredith is afraid from blood, especially his own, which leads him to fight back in Magyk.
Syren has characters discuss old stories about men flying to the moon in white tubes. Later, a relatively modern submarine is encountered, and a tower holds what seems to be a modern elevator, with a light that shows a down-pointing arrow when you, well, go down. The books also talk about Roman temples, and make constant references to real world places, like Peru, China, and Persia.
Fyre adds more fuel to the, er, fire of this theory. Septimus writes the date on the snow outside the House of Foryx. It's... quite surprising, to say the least.
Age Without Youth: Without the help of a seventh son of a seventh son, Marcellus Pye’s formula gives him this, making him plan to kidnap such a child from a time 500 years in the future. His plan succeeds, and in Queste, Marcellus looks like a man in his late 20's. He's still over 500 years old, though.
Agony of the Feet: It is mentioned that Spit Fyre likes to do that with people, so that Jenna cautions Wolf Boy against getting too near when they're fetching the dragon.
All There in the Manual: The back of each book has snippets from the Manual in it, explaining the backstories of several minor characters. There's also a full-color illustrated "manual" of backstory and worldbuilding for the series, titled The Magykal Papers.
All Witches Have Cats: Both Aunt Zelda and the Port Witch Coven have cats, even though Zelda’s cat Bert takes the form of a duck to live better in the Marram Marshes.
Ambition Is Evil: Simon Heap is aiming to become ExtraOrdinary Wizard. When he’s stepped over in favour of Septimus, he’s turns to DomDaniel to get his wish. It doesn’t work out.
Artifact Title: Inverted — Septimus Heap isn't even called by name until the very last chapter of the first book. In fact, as Boy 412 he plays a secondary role to Jenna and Nicko for most of the first book.
Asshole Victim: No one feels particularly sad when Jillie Djinn dies. She was very nasty to Beetle and largely to blame for Merrin's actions through her employing of him in the Manuscriptorium.
Atlantis: The Isles of Syren are described to be the leftover of a sunk land.
Badass Normal: Jenna Heap, despite not having Magykal powers, did knock the Toll-Man and Jakey Fry down in Queste and Syren respectively.
Ban on Magic: The Supreme Custodian attempted to enforce one in the Castle, without much success.
Barrier-Busting Blow: This is how Septimus Heap gets kidnapped in Physik: Marcellus Pye pulls him through a mirror.
Barrier Maiden: The safety of the Castle depends upon Jenna’s presence in it.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Lampshaded with Marcia becoming ExtraOrdinary Wizard, since she wished it all the time and it eventually became true... by Alther being shot on the day she became EOW: "Beware what you wish for, lest it come true"
Becoming the Boast: Septimus lies about "almost" knowing a spell; later he has to scramble to make the spell work for real.
Beneath the Earth: The Darke Halls are subterranean hiding holes for Darke creatures.
"Be Quiet!" Nudge: Happens several times, including an example from Syren where Jenna yanks at Lucy Gringe's cloak to tell her to be quiet while they are deciding upon how to take the ship Cerys back from Theodophilus Fortitude Fry.
Berserk Button: Don't try to kill Septimus or else Jenna will take you down.
Big Bad: DomDaniel in Magyk and Flyte, Queen Etheldredda in Physik, Tertius Fume in Queste and Syren, Merrin Meredith in Darke, and the Two-Faced Ring in Fyre.
Big Fancy Castle: Jenna’s Palace is absolutely enormous, to the point that the Long Walk, which crosses the Palace’s forefront, is referred to as being mile long, and most rooms in the palace are unoccupied.
Boarding Party: Septimus, Jenna, Beetle, Lucy Gringe and Wolf Boy board the Cerys in order to save their friends and relatives, stealthily.
Bold Inflation: Magykal words and terms are written in bold in some editions. They can also be identified by their Xtreme Kool Letterz spelling. For some reason, though, this is absent in Darke.
Book Burning: That is what is done to Magyk books by the Custodian guards.
Boxing Lessons for Superman: Physik is partially about Septimus learning to become a Physician while trapped in a Time past. This becomes useful upon his return to his Time to control an epidemic.
Brainwashing for the Greater Good - How the heroes deal with the Hunter in the first book. And they're particularly nasty about it, giving him memories of a horrible backstory where no one loved him and he was constantly the victim of misfortune and stupid mistakes. When Jenna tries to soften it by giving the Hunter a dog who was his only friend, Nikko cuts her off by adding that the "dog" died. The Hunter ends up working as a buffoon in the circus.
Breaking Out the Boss: Simon Heap is breaking out DomDaniel to take over the Wizard Tower and give him the ExtraOrdinary Apprenticeship.
Changeling Fantasy: Jenna, the only daughter of the Heap family, after ten years of living within the Heap family is revealed to be the daughter of the Queen and heir of the Castle. She had been adopted by the Heaps after the Queen was shot and Marcia Overstrand only barely managed to rescue Jenna from the Assassin sent out to kill them.
Cordon Bleugh Chef: Aunt Zelda is, erm, "renowned" for her boiled cabbage sandwiches, jellied eel stew, and haddock-and-banana pie. Only Septimus is a fan of her cooking, but it seems to be Nostalgia Filter for him. All of her dishes are perfectly edible, if rather odd-sounding.
Country With No Name: The queendom in which the series takes place is never officially named. The closest thing to a name it has is given in Syren, where Septimus sends a letter there and calls it "The Small, Damp Country Across the Sea". The map in the sixth book also calls it that, so maybe, as odd as it sounds, that is its real name.
Crazy-Prepared: Though not in the usual sense — Epheniah Grebe, who can't speak, has a box filled with hundreds of cards, apparently written to apply to any occasion, including one written just for the off-chance that he somehow meets the Queen ("Greetings, Your Majesty"). When his cards fail him, he resorts to a pen and paper.
Creepy Doll: The House of Dolls is filled with these, to the point that even the protagonists find it creepy.
Designated Bullet: There is a magical significance to a named bullet, and sooner or later it will always find its target. The catch, as one assassin finds out, is that this doesn't necessarily mean the target will be shot with it. The way the bullet is named is important too — if the bullet is named 'I.P.', nothing stops it from killing Iona Pot (aka Alice Nettles) instead of the Infant Princess.
Deuteragonist: Jenna Heap. Especially in Physik she does get the major plot-driving role.
Didn't See That Coming: Magyk: This is DomDaniels reaction when Marcia reveals that the Apprentice the Heaps have just saved is actually him.
Died Happily Ever After: Ghosts are a common sight in this universe, so it's quite common to meet your deceased loved ones and find out they're quite OK. This is especially the case in Physik, where Alther and Alice are Together in Death.
Die or Fly: In Darke, Septimus must try the Flyte spell without its charm in order to escape from Dungeon Number One, and succeeds at it.
Disappeared Dad: So the Queen was killed... but what happened to Jenna's biological father? He's still very much alive, but he's been away for most of her life hunting treasure. They reunite in Flyte, and he attempts to bond with her (somewhat disasterously) in Syren.
Discreet Dining Disposal: With Aunt Zelda's food, many people try to dispose of it, by feeding it to dogs, hiding it behind their cutlery, showeling it into their pockets, and allegedly by hiding away in the attic with an excuse and conjuring better food up with Magyk.
Eye Color Change: The eyes of a Wizard child will slowly turn bright green as they are exposed to Magykal learing.
An early clue that Jenna is a cuckoo in the nest of the Heaps is that she looks very different, including eyes that remain stubbornly violet rather than changing like her brothers'.
At the end of Magyk, Sarah Heap notices that Septimus's eyes are becoming green when she identifies him as her child.
Family-Unfriendly Death: The series employs some decidedly family-unfriendly ways to die, of which DomDaniel melting down in a pool of slime or Merrin Meredith being reduced to a hollow skin are probably the worst.
Fingore: There's only one to get that two-faced ring, which can never go off the same way it went on, away from Merrin Meredith...
Free-Range Children: Probably not so unusual for a medieval society such as this, but given how Jenna is the Princess, Septimus is the Extraordinary Apprentice, and Beetle becomes the Chief Hermetic Scribe, and they've all been within a hair's breadth of being killed, you'd think the adults would start to rein them in a bit.
Gender Bender: Before he became a genie, Jim Knee was a woman. It's implied that occasional Gender Bending is par for the course for genies.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Syren, Septimus is given a Water Gnome, which is basically a Magykal watering can. Beetle notes that it's different from the rude ones he usually sees. At first this can just fly over your head as swearing inanimate objects (God knows Harry Potter has enough of them), but once you take into consideration that it's a watering can, it can easily be interpreted as something far worse. Not a pretty thought when you're watering your plants.
Good Guy Bar: The Hole In The Wall tavern, where several meetings of the characters occur.
Happily Adopted: Jenna, and she doesn't like any implication that the Heaps are not her "real" family.
In an odd way, Septimus is treated by the siblings as the adopted child more than Jenna ever was.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Simon. He's a good guy in the first book, the antagonist of the second book, a non-entity in the third, in the fourth he's grudgingly back to being a good guy, and by the time the fifth comes along, he's back on the Magykal straight-and-narrow.
Hope Is Scary: When Boy 412 realizes that for the first time in his life, he has more Good Things than Bad ones, he is afraid because it means the possibility of loss.
Identical Grandson: In Physik Jenna is often confused with her distant ancestor Esmeralda.
Implausible Deniability: When Marcia, Nicko, Jenna, Boy 412 and Silas hide from the Hunter in magical fog the Hunter says that they have nothing to fear.
It Tastes Like Feet: In Fyre, Septimus thinks that the ghost of Alther Mella would feel that flying through the heavy wind was like being Passed Through by pixies with boots on, though "How Alther knew what being Passed Through by pixies with boots on was like, Septimus had no idea."
I Will Only Slow You Down: In Flyte, Septimus insists in Nicko running away without him from the wolverines that are following them after he tripped and twisted his ankle. Nicko doesn't listen and gets trapped along with Septimus.
Last Name Basis: Beetle is only known as "Beetle", since his full name is "O. Beetle Beetle". He was named this because his mother was told that his father (a man named Brian, but everyone, even his wife, called him Beetle) had died just as Beetle was born. When asked for the name of her newborn son, Beetle's mother was half-mad with grief, and could only cry out "Oh Beetle! Beetle!" The people there took that as his name, for some reason.
Foxy is another example. It's not until Fyre we learn that his first name is "William".
Wolf Boy is horrified when he learns his real name for the first time and finds out that his first name is "Mandy." He decides that he wants to be known as "Marwick."
Limb-Sensation Fascination: A millipede is transformed into the shield bug that will eventually belong to Jenna. There's a passage narrating what it feels like for him to lose his many precious legs and instead find himself with just six, complete with fingers. He considers hands useless and clumsy, though he does get used to it.
Like Brother and Sister: Septimus and Jenna. Well, Jenna and all the Heap brothers, obviously, but her relationship with Septimus stands out, since the Word of God constantly mentions their brotherly connection (starting with the second book).
Loads and Loads of Characters: Are there ever! Even the incredibly minor characters have backstories. The 2009 guidebook provides information on a lot of them.
Loophole Abuse: In Fyrethe ghost of Jillie Djinn makes a major pest of herself. Unfortunately for Marcia Overstrand, Jillie died on her sofa, and the rules of ghosthood state that a ghost must spend a year and a day in the place where they died. Jillie continues to drive Marcia nuts until Hotep-Ra presents a simple solution— since Jillie Djinn is entirely on the sofa, all that's necessary is to remove the sofa from the study.
Lost Technology: Syren displays quite a bit of it, and it is even called "Beyond Magyk."
Massive Numbered Siblings: There's a whole heap of Heap children. Discussed in-book as well, when Snorri asks, "How many brothers do you have?!"
Mistaken for Badass: Merrin was thought by DomDaniel to be Septimus Heap, who was the seventh son of the seventh son that was said to have extreme magical talent, so DomDaniel took Merrin in as an apprentice waiting for the talent to arise. It turns he was switched with the real Septimus at birth, so no such talent reveals itself. Merrin doesn't take this well.
Mistaken for Cheating: When Sally Mullin sees Silas and Marcia fleeing from the Custodians she thinks they are eloping. Sally also thinks Jenna was conceived by Sarah in an affair (as Jenna is secretly adopted she doesn't look like Silas or Sarah).
Mistaken for Quake: In Queste, the loud shaking of the Toll-Man's hut that Jenna first thought was an earthquake turns out to be a pack of Foryx running past the hut.
Never the Selves Shall Meet: Downplayed in Fyre. Septimus meets his several-years-older self in the House of Time. He is so shocked that he is rendered completely speechless. Future!Septimus sees that this is for the best, since telling him anything more than the most basic information (like "Marcia is fine. Don't worry.") will cause all sorts of problems. Future!Septimus also has memories of this very meeting, musing that he was wondering when he would meet up with his younger self. After Present!Septimus calms down a bit, Hotep-Ra sends him on his way, quipping that "we will meet again...as you have just seen."
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Saving Merrin doesn't make him like you. In fact, it doesn't stop him from trying and nearly succeeding to kill you all.
No Hugging, No Kissing: There are a number of implied love interests all around ( Septimus and Syrah, Jenna and Beetle, and Nicko and Snorri), but little comes of them on-screen. Even the few Official Couples are not very detailed.
Official Couple: Strangely, Alther and Alice are the only official non-married couple (or to-be-married, as with Simon and Lucy), as the series normally uses No Hugging, No Kissing. Even the second most strongly-implied couple (Nicko and Snorri) are never officially said to be a couple, and they break up at the end of Darke when Snorri goes home.
Our Ghosts Are Different: Most, if not all, people who die become ghosts. These are tied to the places they visited when they were alive, and while they cannot touch or grab things, they have the limited ability to Cause things to happen.
Our Witches Are Different: Witches in the Septimus-verse mostly work with potions and Magykal items rather than outright spellcasting, and have icy blue eyes. They are often in rivalry with Wizards.
Out of Focus: In the very beginning of the first book, at least, we were introduced to Silas and see through his perspective frequently, and it seemed as though he was going to be one of the main characters. But virtually every single Heap besides Jenna, Septimus, Nicko, and Simon are swept away for the vast majority of the series and only get a few scenes at most per book mentioning what they're up to.
Pet the Dog: It's said in Darke that DomDaniel once gave a bowl of milk for a stray cat. Semi-justified, as it's mentioned that a Darke witch or wizard can never become completely evil simply because he or she is human.
Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: When Simon has told the Supreme Custodian about the location of Zelda's cottage, the Supreme Custodian plans to kill Simon along with the other Heaps.
Rhymes on a Dime: Tertius Fume does this to the point of being called out for this by Merrin Meredith.
Romantic False Lead: Septimus spends a lot of time in Darke checking in on Syrah, who was left in a magic coma, but when she finally wakes up she no longer remembers and actively avoids him, while he starts dating another girl.
Queen Etheldredda always referring to Jenna as her great-great-great (and then some) granddaughter, which she is as all Queens and their Princesses are directly related. The author, Angie Sage, actually writes "great-great-great and then some" several times in her stories.
Wizard Sandwiches and the many, many things they don't believe in.
Hamsters come up a lot in The Magykal Papers.
Sausages in the Egg-On-Toast Restaurant Guide because of the traumatised assistant's experience with the Meat Pie and Sausage Roll Cart
Shout-Out: Fyre, the last book, contains at least contains two:
One is to the Harry Potter series, with an Ordinary Wizard named Bertie Bott being among the deceased.
Another is made by Hotep-Ra, referencing the Famous Last Words of Captain Oats, one of the men on Scott's Antarctic expedition.
Hotep-Ra got out of his chair and said to his Apprentice, Talmar Ray Bell, "I am just going outside. I may be some time." Talmar looked horrified. "Don't say that!" Hotep-Ra smiled at his Apprentice. "Why ever not?" "It's bad luck," she said. "Someone said it once and never came back." "I'll be back," said Hotep-Ra. "Someone said that once too."
Shown Their Work: The eponymous Fyre is a reference to a nuclear reactor, and gold held near a fission reaction really will be transmuted into lead by the neutrons flying around.
Special Person, Normal Name: In a cast of characters with names like Septimus, Alther, Etheldredda, and Morwenna, the princess of the castle around whom a good deal of the plot revolves is named... Jenna. Somewhat justified in that she was raised in a family of ordinary wizards, but given what they named some of their other children...
Taking the Bullet: Jenna is haunted all her life by a "named bullet" — a bullet guaranteed to find the person bearing its name. Initially, it "comes" to her unshot and free of its gun — she owns it, so it "found" her. However, it's stolen from her and fired. Alice Nettles takes it, and due to the way the bullet was named, it accepts her as its target.
Taking You with Me: When Tertius Fume is banished by Marcia, he touches Alther so that both are banished.
Talking Animal: Stanley the Message/Secret Service Rat. In fact, all message rats can talk, since they convey their messages via voice.
Technicolor Eyes: Wizards always have green eyes and Witches have blue eyes (bearing in mind that a man or a woman may be a Wizard). All those embroiled in the Darke have dark eyes. Many heirs to the Castle have violet eyes, as does Jenna, since she has no inherent Magyk.
Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: The message rat Stanley is initially relieved when asked to a job for wizards. Before being asked to deliver his message to the Marram Marshes, Stanley the message rat was stuck delivering messages between two feuding sisters in a situation that had descended into this. His job eventually consisted of simply running back and forth between them and not talking, until finally the sisters' mother was shocked by the huge bill and canceled the service.
Who Would Be Stupid Enough: In Syren Septimus says that not even Milo would be stupid enough to acquire five thousand warrior jinn without knowing the Codes to control them. Turns out that Tertius Fume deceived him into doing so by promising to give the Codes later.
You Are Number Six: Happens to Stanley the message rat after DomDaniel's heavies take over the rat office. The new head rat reassigns him as Rat 101 and strips away his chartered confidential status. The members of the Young Army also have numbers instead of names.
You Said You Would Let Them Go: Linda starts to pull this on a pair of lovebirds — both the hostage and the bird who obeyed her for its mate's safety. The Witch Mother stops her, not out of the kindness of her heart (she doesn't have any), but because intentionally breaking a Darke bargain For the Evulz falls right into Stupid Evil territory.