A work has a title that refers to a specific object. Because the object is so specific in the title, you know without knowing anything else about the story, that, obviously, the heroes will have to quest to find this object, or protect it from the bad guys, or recover it from the forces of evil, or destroy it somehow. This often leads to a Title Drop
Something of a pet trope for fantasy novels and video games, (especially those with Mad Lib Fantasy Titles
, but can occur elsewhere. Sometimes results in an Artifact Title
if the series moves on. Can involve a Character Name and the Noun Phrase
title, especially if the Noun Phrase in question is nothing more than a MacGuffin itself.
of Mad Lib Fantasy Title
and Super Trope
of Character Name and the Noun Phrase
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Anime and Manga
- Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials is a trilogy of MacGuffin titles. The Subtle Knife is a particularly good case of this.
- Not in the UK, however, where the first book is titled Northern Lights.
- Crops up in The Wheel of Time. The first book is definitely one, but the best example is A Crown of Swords for combining this with Prophecy Twist - even some of the Title Drops seem to be symbolic.
- Jack Vance's The Eyes Of The Overworld.
- The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers references not one but two MacGuffins.
- The Chronicles of Narnia has The Silver Chair, which doesn't turn up until quite late in the book, but still counts.
- The Harry Potter series includes the eponymous Philosopher's Stone, Goblet of Fire, and Deathly Hallows, though the Goblet is a plot starter, not a Plot Coupon. The Chamber of Secrets also counts, as it is a MacGuffin Location.
- The Sword of Shannara Trilogy.
- Memory Sorrow And Thorn does this recursively: Not only does the series-name refer to the three MacGuffins, but the titles for individual books (The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower) all refer to various important objects.
- Maggie Furey's Artifacts Of Power series has titles like "The Harp of Winds" and "The Sword of Flame".
- Keeper of the Swords by Nick Perumov is kinda like that. It sounds like a word salad at first, but later you learn that the eponymous Swords are the McGuffin. The first book in this series, Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword, plays the trope completely straight.
- The Darksword Trilogy centers around the forging and use of a powerful Anti-Magic sword In a World of magic users.
- The Eye of Argon.
- Alexandre Dumas père's The Black Tulip.
- Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda.
- The Chronicles of Prydain include The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron, and also the MacGuffin Location The Castle of Llyr.
- The books in the Elenium trilogy by David Eddings sound like they're this trope, but only the third book in the trilogy - The Sapphire Rose - actually fits the bill.
- The Silmarillion is Quenya for "of the Silmarils," an abbreviation of the full title Quenta Silmarillion, the Story of the Silmarils.
- The first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Knife Of Never Letting Go.
- The Moonstone.
- The Spelljammer setting of Dungeons & Dragons is named after a powerful, magical, sentient ship that everyone in the setting dreams of finding and commanding. The captain who successfully claims it as his own will be unstoppable.
- Paranoia: John M. Ford's adventure The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. There is, indeed, a black box.