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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 sequels, The Magician King and The Magician's Land.

For character tropes related to the live-action adaptation, see here.


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Introduced in The Magicians

     The Physical Kids 

Quentin Coldwater

The protagonist of the story, but certainly not the hero. Intelligent but childish, imaginative but oblivious to the feelings of others, he is deeply dissatisfied with reality (and pretty much anywhere else he ends up sooner or later). Quentin believes that becoming a magician or finding Fillory will solve all his life's problems and make him happy. It doesn't.

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Is this when he works at Brakebills as he spends all his time muttering to himself and working on a secret spell.
  • 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 aces his exam and enters second year early, he looks down on the fist years; 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.
  • Aimlessly Seeking Happiness: His primary motivation and a Fatal Flaw mentioned very early on in the novel: despite his academic success, he feels unfulfilled, and seeks the world of Fillory for the simple fact that it's meant to be always happy there. This remains with him throughout the novel, serving as the bedrock for every real mission he sets himself: his eagerness to excel at Brakebills, his search for a purpose in life after graduation, and his search for a heroic journey in Fillory; for good measure, it ends up getting himself and his friends seriously hurt.
  • 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.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Walked in on Eliot having sex with a guy, watched for a minute, and expressed that it bothered him that Eliot never came to him for such a thing before deciding he wouldn't have gone though with it. He also slept with Janet, and it's implied that he slept with Eliot as well, but he doesn't think about it.
  • Ascended Fanboy: He was obsessed with Fillory his entire life, and eventually becomes one of its kings.
  • Asleep for Days: After the climactic battle with The Beast, Quentin ends up unconscious for the next six months while being healed and treated by centaurs.
  • Author Avatar: According to Grossman, early-series Quentin was a lot like himself as a teenager.
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: In Fillory. It's how the second book got its name.
  • Boring, but Practical: Spent two weeks of his sword training learning how to sheath and unsheathe his sword.
  • Childhood Friends: With Julia. Of course, given the aforementioned Acquired Situational Narcissism, he dumps her and James not long after he enters Brakebills and doesn't think of her much until she abruptly re-enters his life as a hedge-witch.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Tends to take unnecessary risks in pursuit of heroic deeds, though for him it's less about the "helping people" part than it is his fantasy of being The Hero.
  • Cool Teacher: Some kids in Brakebills see him as this because he uses an exotic kind of magic they've never seen before.
  • Cyborg: After getting chewed on by the Beast during the final battle, Quentin has to have his right knee, right shoulder, right biceps, and about two thirds of his collarbone replaced with an enchanted wooden skin. He actually quite likes it.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: In his final year at Brakebills and the next few months of his life post-graduation, Quentin is anxious for something to do with his life, but doesn't know how to make it happen and quickly descends into unfulfilling hedonism. As such, once he gets past his initial concerns, he blithely flings himself into Fillory despite the risks, in the hope that he can find purpose in heroism and ruling over the country.
  • The Eeyore: Played with; when his lifestyle begins to lose inertia, he tends to go through gloomy, borderline-depressive spells where he grows dissatisfied and pessimistic about everyone and everything. In fact, he actually begins the story right in the middle of one, only to be snapped out of it by his arrival at Brakebills.
  • Executive Excess: Towards the end of the first novel, Quentin Coldwater decides to leave magic behind and get a job in the real world via the Brakebills' old boys network. As a result, he ends up in the position of associate management consultant at Gunnings Hunsucker Swann, and thanks to the enchantments placed on the job, he can waste as much time as he likes without repercussions. Most of his time is spent gaming, jacking off to internet porn, or getting shitfaced, to the point that his assistant has given up on trying to schedule him into meetings. Ludicrously enough, Quentin is actually able to delude himself into believing that he's become a happy, responsible adult member of society by doing this... until his old friends convince him to stop running away and become a magician again.
  • Fatal Flaw: His childishness and obsessive desire for happiness.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: His spell to create a Magical Land in the third book wouldn't have worked without his near useless discipline.
  • 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.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: At the start of the book, anyway; alongside his overriding desire for happiness, Quentin desperately wanted something to leaven the mundanity of his life, to the point that he went so far as to master sleight-of-hand and conjuring tricks just to feel more magical - though the Boring, but Practical reality of the subject turned him off a bit. As such, he jumps at the chance to attend Brakebills.
  • Innocently Insensitive: At times, Quentin's childish attitude leads to him insulting or hurting people without meaning to. 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.
  • Jumped at the Call: Once he learns what Brakebills really is, he barely gives it a moment's thought before catapulting himself into the wizarding school of his dreams. Subverted when it comes to Fillory, which he's much more cautious about; it takes his growing dissatisfaction with life and the collapse of his relationship with Alice to get him enthusiastic about the journey.
  • Locked into Strangeness: After witnessing Alice's Heroic Sacrifice Quentin's hair turns pure white.
  • Longing for Fictionland: Quentin dreams of finding a way to Fillory, a fairytale kingdom where he can find the happiness he always desired. He eventually succeeds... but it's nothing like his expectations.
  • Mad Dreamer: Along with his open longing for Fillory and his daydreams of unhindered happiness, Quentin is unusual because as Alice points out, he's probably the only magician who actually believes in magic: all others know it exists, but Quentin is the only one who honestly and truly believes in it - perhaps because he finds fiction more believable than reality.
  • Mage Marksman: Is good with a bow and arrow. Has mentioned that he could use magic to make the arrows easily hit their target but thinks it unsporting.
  • Manchild: 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). Plus, the self-induced collapse of his relationship with Alice leaves him in an extremely sulky, petulant mood, to the point that even Alice herself calls him a child.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Quentin's first encounters with magic were in practicing sleight-of-hand, enough to get the attention of a talent scout working at the local novelty supply shop where Quentin bought his props. Later, one of his first inklings that the Brakebills entrance exam might be more than it seems is when, while performing for the professors, he accidentally makes a coin disappear for real.
  • The Millstone: For much of the first book, Quentin is more liability than asset; quite apart from all the times he ends up getting someone hurt due to his own bad behavior, he's also next to useless in fights.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Quentin's childish attempt at a prank accidentally summons the Beast, traumatizing Professor March for life and getting Amanda Orloff killed; later, he summons the Beast again in his attempts to play at being a hero, resulting in Penny's hands getting chewed off and forcing Alice to sacrifice her life to save the day.
  • Relieved Failure: By the end of the first book, Quentin has failed every single adventurous goal he's set himself and, as a result of his depression, believes it was for the best; he even abandons magic to live a "normal" life of Executive Excess, believing himself to be much more mature as a result. However, he eventually realizes that he isn't really happy or wiser at all, and he's just believing his own line of self-justifying bullshit.
  • Supporting Protagonist: To Alice in first novel, and Julia in the second.
  • This Loser Is You: Serves as something of a veiled jab at people who actually wish they could live in a fantasy world, as it's continuously pointed out that these worlds are real places with real people and real drawbacks - not to mention the fact that Quentin's eagerness to live his fantasies ends up getting people hurt.
  • Took a Level in Badass: When he walks naked to the South Pole. He levels up again after he studies magic by himself in the Centaur monastery.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: After graduating, Quentin's growing lack of purpose leads him into a hedonistic period where he drunkenly cheats on Alice; then when Alice gets fed up with him and screws Penny, he turns extremely petulant and starts making everyone around him miserable - most prominently threatening Penny. It takes the disastrous aftermath of his first journey to Fillory and his encounter with Emily Greenstreet to clean up his act.
  • Whatevermancy: When Quentin finds out his Discipline is unclassifiable, he says "I'm a nothingmancer. I'm a squatmancer."
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: He finds out in the third book that his discipline is the ability to fix small objects.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ends up on the receiving end of one of these from Alice when it looks as though he's going to become dissatisfied with the fantasy world he always wanted.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Quentin spends almost the entirety of the first book in the series imagining himself as the hero of a story, imagining that he'll be the big, bold world-saving hero of Fillory. It doesn't work out - in part because Alice is the real hero of the story. Afterwards, he deludes himself into thinking that the moral of the story is that he should never have tried to be happy in the first place, and later, that Magic Is Evil. Suffice to say, he's disabused of this notion by an encounter by someone even more deluded than he is.

Alice

One of the most intelligent students in her year and one of Quentin's few real friends at Brakebills prior to joining the Physical Kids. Though shy and socially awkward, Alice is easily the best of the Physical Kids when it comes to spellcasting and magical theory, and as she slowly emerges from her shell, she becomes more and more inclined to show her strengths.

  • Action Girl: 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.
  • Alice Allusion: A girl who ran away to a magical world and underwent a number of strange transformations before coming out the other side in one piece.
  • 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 that probably don't exist. Alice dreads returning home to them, especially when Quentin decides to tag along, pointing out that both of them are prime examples of what happens to magicians who lose their way following graduation.
  • Apologetic Attacker: In a moment of Sympathy for the Devil, she apologizes when she's about to kill The Beast.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Her transformation into a niffin is portrayed like this in Alice's Story, allowing her to venture beyond Fillory and explore all worlds at random.
  • Badass Bookworm: The most studious of the Physical Kids and undoubtedly the most effective in combat once she gets used to the stress of the battlefield, ultimately being the only member of the to fight and win against the Beast in single combat.
  • Barrier Warrior: Alice casts Fergus's Spectral Armory when fighting The Beast which temporarily gives her phantasmal armor and a polearm which fade in and out of visibility.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shy, quiet, gentle, and one of the best magicians in the entire series; mess with her friends and loved ones and she will fuck you up as Martin Chatwin found out the hard way.
  • Big Brother Worship: She adored her older brother Charlie, being the last to see him off before he was teleported to Brakebills; his death left her deeply depressed, exacerbated by her parents' descent into eccentricity, and gradually destroyed what little confidence she had.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Towards the end of the third and final book, Quentin manages to restore Alice's humanity... and even without the godlike power of a Niffin, Alice is still a better magician than Quentin will ever be — a fact that she proves by turning him into a dragon during the final battle.
  • Buxom Is Better: Quentin notes Alice's "heavy breasts" more than once, including while they're having sex, which is clearly depicted as part of her attractiveness.
  • Child Mage: Alice's Story shows her first experiments with magic occurring when she was around ten years old; even though she only managed to move a coin by an inch or so, it's still an early sign of her precociousness, as most magicians don't - and often can't - begin learning magic until their teenage years.
  • Commonality Connection:
    • She and Quentin share their first moment of real friendship when she reveals the loneliness and anxiety she's suffered as a result of her past, allowing Quentin to realize she's actually in the same boat as him in terms of limited confidence.
    • In Alice's Story, her friendship with Penny begins when he notices that she's reading his favorite book in the Fillory series, drawing her into her first real conversation with a fellow Brakebills student.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: It's actually stated that the death of her older brother, Charlie, was what caused her parent's collapse into eccentricity, the loss of Alice's limited confidence, and her eventually running away from 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.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Alice uses the usually accidental niffin transformation this way in order to defeat the Beast.
  • Demon of Human Origin: Is referred to as a demon several times when she's a niffin.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: It's downplayed compared to Quentin, but she wants a purpose in life that she can apply her powers to and - more importantly - prevent her from ending up like her parents. In Alice's Story, it's revealed that witnessing their mutual descent into hedonism upset her so badly that she tried to walk out on the Physical Kids altogether, and suffered a breakdown in the back of a cab over it until the driver AKA Jane Chatwin was able to talk her out of leaving.
  • Determinator: If Alice wants something done, nothing will stop her from accomplishing it, even if she has to take astonishing personal risks to do so; among other things, she took an incredibly risky journey on her own all the way to upstate New York and walked the last five miles through heavily forested territory just to get into Brakebills for the entrance exam.
  • Flash Step: Part of her capabilities as a niffin: at one point in the third book, Quentin isn't sure if she teleported towards him or just flew at him really quickly.
  • Foreshadowing: Ends up passing the Ultimate Final Exam in the Fourth Year by using a deliberately-botched spell that would have ended up killing her if she'd gotten it wrong... thus setting the stage for when Alice deliberately botching another spell in the final battle as part of a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Heroic BSoD: In Alice's Story, the realization that she and Quentin have ended up just like her parents nearly shatters her confidence altogether, leading her to break down in tears after leaving them for the evening. Returning home to find Quentin naked in bed with Janet and Eliot leaves her sitting catatonic at the end of the bed, completely broken. It takes the arrival of Penny to rekindle her energy.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Combining Deadly Upgrade with Taking You with Me, she becomes a niffin to destroy Martin.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Noted for being quite petite, she comes across as even smaller due to her lack of confidence, she often ends up paired with men far bigger than her - including the tall and willowy Quentin and the rather imposing Penny. Made all the more obvious in Alice's Story.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Her niffin form, a humanoid figure formed from luminous blue fire with no grasp of sanity and no interest in human life.
  • I Am Not My Father: Alice fears that one day, she'll be reduced to the same level of pointless, purpose-deprived existence as her parents, and makes Quentin swear that they'll never make the mistake of falling into that particular trap. Quentin, being Quentin, fails to live up to the promise. Ironically, she ends up turning out like her brother instead.
  • Improvised Golems: During the final battle with the Beast, Alice uses sand to conjure up an improvised glass golem.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: Fergus's Spectral Armory temporarily gives her martial arts abilities.
  • Light 'em Up: Alice's magical discipline is a form of light-manipulation known as Phosphoromancy, which is used to burn a path into the Physical Kids' cottage.
  • Mad Woman In The Attic: The narration in the third book actually calls her this when she's a niffin living in the alternate version of Plum's house.
  • Odd Friendship: Alice's Story reveals she was actually friends with Penny for a while; given Alice's Shrinking Violet tendencies and Penny's overwhelming arrogance, it's hard to imagine a more unusual relationship. Unfortunately, it fell to bits when Penny made the mistake of believing that she was in love with him, resulting in the failure of their friendship, the temporary collapse of his morale and his failure to skip the first year at Brakebills - and from there, his punch-up with Quentin.
  • 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.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Alice is generally a sweet-natured girl with no heart for serious hate and even less for physical violence, so the fact that she resorts to calling Janet a cunt after she reveals the Emily Greenstreet story is a sure sign of just how deeply the story hurt her. Likewise, Quentin is completely taken by surprise when Alice loses her temper with him and slugs him one square in the eye; even more so when she goes so far as to have sex with Penny as revenge for Quentin's own infidelities.
  • Parental Neglect: Alice's parents could not care less about her, being too absorbed in their own pointless hobbies to pay even the slightest bit of attention to her. During Alice's Story, when she ran away to Brakebills they scarcely noticed, and after she was briefly sent home to await the start of term, they casually asked "where have you been?" as if she was out buying groceries a little longer than usual.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Never stops smiling once she's transformed into a niffin.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: More than makes up for her short status in sheer magical mastery, especially once she becomes a Niffin.
  • Posthumous Narration: Variation. In Alice's Story, it's soon revealed that the reason why she's able to discuss things she didn't personally witness is because she's narrating the story as an all-powerful omniscient niffin.
  • Power Floats: As a Niffin, she just flies everywhere and doesn't bother walking.
  • Pure Magic Being: Is made of pure magical energy following her transformation into a niffin.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: After the full extent of Quentin's inability to live a stable adult life becomes apparent, Alice lets him have it and does not hold back. Even when he manages to summon up some indignation during the second round of the argument, Alice still manages to leave him flummoxed by pointing out that he's the one getting dissatisfied with the paradise that he always wanted.]]
  • 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.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: After being returned to human form, Alice suffers a brief but debilitating depression over the loss of her incredible abilities and senses; with Quentin's help, she manages to recover.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In Alice's Story, it's revealed that she eventually had enough of the purposeless post-graduate life and tried to leave the Physical Kids altogether. In the end, her cab driver was able to talk her out of it and return her to their apartment... just in time to discover Quentin's one-night stand with Janet.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Arguably the smallest character at Brakebills next to Bigby, and undeniably the most intelligent and learned, a fact firmly demonstrated by the fact that she is one of only two pupils to skip the first year.
  • Shrinking Violet: Initially, Alice is almost chronically averse to showing her face in public and grows incredibly self-conscious the moment any attention is drawn to her; studying for her exams alongside Quentin and Penny encourages her to emerge from her shell and gain a little confidence.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: During the final battle against the Beast, she finally recognizes that the monster everyone's been afraid of is really just a child who never grew up and never recovered from the threat of being ousted from the one place that made him happy. Perhaps seeing a lot of Quentin in him, she actually chokes back a sob and apologises to the Beast - before transforming into a niffin and ripping his head off.
  • Teen Genius: Out of a whole school full of geniuses, she's quickly judged to be one of the smartest out of all of them, having even mastered several advanced spells before her first term begins.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Already having increased in confidence by leaps and bounds throughout the story, she reaches her pinnacle when she - out of all the magicians in the group - takes the fight to Martin Chatwin and wins.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: It's believed that the Brakebills faculty refused to explain what happened to her brother or admit her to the college in case she ended up suffering the same Magic Misfire-induced death as Charlie. In the end, she does - but as part of a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Like all of the Brakebills students, she's learned how to transform into animals, but out of the entire cast, she's the only one who manages to weaponize it.
  • Waif-Fu: Subverted. When her anger at Quentin finally boils over, she sucker-punches him in the face and hits him several times; because she's much smaller than Quentin and has even less combat training than him, they're all inexpertly aimed and largely ineffectual. However, the first blow to the orbital ridge really hurt. Double subverted once she makes use of Fergus' Spectral Armory against the Beast.
  • Weak, but Skilled: She's a small and unimposing girl with no taste for violence; she doesn't have Janet's confidence, Eliot's natural gift for magic, Josh's massive surges of strength, or Penny's gift for battle magic. What she does have is knowledge and skill, making her more effective at pure spellcasting technique than any of the Physical Kids - to the point that she's the only one that can match the Unskilled, but Strong Beast move for move.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Delivers one of these to herself in Alice's Story, finally overcoming her inner lack of confidence while on the Ultimate Final Exam and challenging the world to "stand aside and watch me burn."

Eliot

Sophisticated, laid-back, too-cool-for-school and openly gay, Eliot is the first student magician Quentin meets and befriends upon arriving at Brakebills; he serves as his guide in his early days on campus, and when Quentin joins the Physical Kids, he becomes one of his closest - and most eccentric - allies.

  • The Alcoholic: Already a little inclined to drinking at Brakebills, having traded his desserts for extra glasses of wine and spending most of his spare hours seeking out new and interesting wine; after graduating, his lack of direction in life results in him turning into a petulant alcoholic with no objective other that to torture his liver to death. It takes Penny's arrival and the journey to Fillory to pull Eliot back from the transformation into a completely Addled Addict.
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: In Fillory, being the first of the Physical Kids to take the notion of ruling the kingdom seriously; alongside Janet, he's the one who actually returned to govern the place after everyone else had either died or given up on the idea entirely.
  • Break the Comedian: Eliot provides much-needed levity to the gruelling classwork at Brakebills with his trademarked snark and razor-sharp wit. Even his graduation-induced descent into alcoholism doesn't completely dampen his sense of humour. However, the disastrous events of the final battle in Fillory leave him completely crushed: Eliot's first response to Alice's fatal transformation is to throw the Crown away with a howl of grief, eventually joining the others in splitting up the Physical Kids. However, he eventually reappears on Quentin's doorstep with a renewed sense of humour and an offer to bring him back into the magical lifestyle - which Quentin accepts.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Seems to be a better magician than Alice but doesn't make any effort in school.
  • Cultured Badass: Manages the "cultured" part quite well throughout the novel, being very well-acquainted with art and fine wines, but he doesn't get to the "badass" part until the journey to Fillory.
  • The Cynic: Doesn't think very highly of humanity and prefers to think himself apart from them, embittered from his years of being bullied for his homosexuality.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A smartass from beginning to end, he's always very quick with a snappy quip if someone asks a stupid question or makes a silly argument, as Richard discovers.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: A classy, too-cool-for-school snob, Eliot spends much of his time seeking out fine wines, and also likes occasionally cooking with them as well. However, after graduation, as he grows less classy and more dysfunctional, he begins drinking just about anything he can get his hands on, even chasing Dayquil with vodka when sick.
  • Expy: Word of God says his character was significantly based on Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited.
  • Farm Boy: Eliot was actually brought up on a farm in Oregon.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: After getting into his first real fight in Fillory, Eliot remarks that any damage to his hair will result in him bringing his opponents back to life so he can kill them again.
  • Finger Snap Lighter: Does this for Quentin one of the first times they met.
  • The Gift: Has an intuitive grasp of magic, putting him above most of the Physical Kids except for Alice.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Chain-smokes Merit cigarettes, the only brand he can cope with, and though it's regarded as an unhealthy vice he remains a tentatively heroic figure. It actually becomes a Calling Card when Eliot leaves one of his smokes behind with his farewell letter to Quentin in the first book.
  • The Grotesque: Mild example — he's described as having a mouth twisted to the side in a permanent half-grimace, and some disfiguration to his jaw as well.
  • The Hedonist: A chain-smoker and a wine-fancier in his teenage years, he's the quickest to adapt to the mindless hedonism of post-graduate life, drinking and shagging his way across Manhattan and paying little attention to his own health.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Drunk and at his most dysfunctional, he makes an exception to his usual sexual tastes by having sex with Janet.
  • Power Gives You Wings: Attains a pair of feathery wings at the conclusion.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Wears expensive shirts with his Brakebills 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.
  • She Is the King: Inverted Trope. At the very end of the novel, Eliot jokes that he was considering being one of the two queens of Fillory instead being one of the two kings. However, rules are rules...
  • Straight Gay: Though a little bit hammy at times, he's not overtly camp despite being overtly homosexual. However, he does make an exception for Janet.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Dramatic variation; after seeing Alice sacrificing herself to save them all from the Beast, he throws the crown of Fillory away with a howl of rage and grief.
  • Undiscriminating Addict: While at Brakebills, Eliot's drugs of choice are restricted to fine wines and Merit cigarettes, but after graduating, he starts drinking just about anything he can get his hands on. After watching his friend slowly going to pieces over the next few months, even Quentin has to comment after finding Eliot mixing vodka with dayquil note .

Josh

The most light-hearted of the Physical Kids; a amiable overweight magician most often found cracking jokes or jollying parties along, he's not among the academic high-flyers at Brakebills or even especially consistent in terms of spellcasting. However, what he lacks in finesse he makes up for in raw power.

  • 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 as a result of selling one of the magic buttons.
  • Big Fun: A jolly, boisterous figure eager to join in the fun and encourage the merriment.
  • The Big Guy: On top of being one of the few members of the Physical Kids inclined to use his muscles to any significant degree, he's capable of immensely powerful surges of magic, allowing him to bring down The Brute of the enemy force during the journey to Fillory.
  • Boldly Coming: He wants to find Middle Earth specifically to get in an elf's pants, as stated above. The second book reveals that, amongst other things, he ended up having sex with a Harpy.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Josh has the worst grades of the Physical Kids and barely manages to graduate from Brakebills; for good measure, most of his spells either fail to work at all, or overload to a ridiculous extent. Then, in Fillory, he destroys a massive burning demon that just killed Fen, the badass Kung-Fu Wizard of the group by sucking it into an Unrealistic Black Hole.
  • Drunk with Power / Drunk on the Dark Side: Played for laughs. Josh tends to get very excited when his spells actually work, especially in games of Welters, and eagerly brags about his power. Eliot jokingly compares it to someone being pleased a meal emerged looking like it did in a cookbook.
  • Fat Idiot: Though he fears he's turning into one of these due to his dodgy grades and unpredictable spells, he's ultimately cleverer and more capable than he appears.
  • Gravity Master: Can summon black holes in his magical power-surges.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Nervous over an incoming Welters tournament, Josh ends up drinking a little too much of the booze his parents sent him for his birthday, ending up late and too pissed to keep up his confident exterior.
  • 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. In one case, he spent twice as long as any other students did on getting his marble to move... but when it finally worked, the marble flew out of the building and embedded itself in a tree - where it remains to this day.
  • Stepford Smiler: Type A — he appears outwardly jolly and carefree, but is secretly hiding a lot of anxiety, depression and even burgeoning alcoholism, and fears he's going to be kicked out of Brakebills. He improves somewhat after he graduates, but it's not until the second book that he really loosens up.
  • Stout Strength: Tall and overweight, he uses his physique in order to break up fights between students that actually resort to fisticuffs on Brakebills grounds.
  • Squishy Wizard: Subverted; while not exactly a combat specialist, Josh is strong enough to break up the fist-fight between Quentin and Penny.
  • Thinking Up Portals: Is the only member of the main gang to learn how to do this.
  • 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.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Can conjure one that sucks in enemies.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: He's not much for the subtler points of magic, his skills are awkward at best and his grades are hardly the best at Brakebills... but Josh makes up for it in sheer, out-of-control power, to the point that most of the team start running as soon as they see him launching one of his big spells.

Janet

The only other female member of the Physical Kids, she's known for her force of personality and her promiscuous attitude towards sex. Easily the most forceful of the group and probably the only one to take the group's direction seriously, she can usually be relied on to direct their energies to a concrete purpose and rally them around a specific goal.

  • Alpha Bitch: In her less-than-pleasant moments, she can come off as this, being aggressive, manipulative, vindictive and jealous - and all too willing to take out her frustrations on the targets of her envy.
    • Lovable Alpha Bitch: What she is most of the time; though bossy and promiscuous, she binds the group together in celebration and work alike.
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: In Fillory.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Arguably; she's normally pretty likable, if a bit on the bossy side. However, in her moments of frustration, she isn't above lashing out in a way designed to leave serious emotional scars. Case in point, revealing the truth behind the death of Alice's brother - right to Alice's face.
  • Boyish Short Hair: In keeping with the trope, Janet's a tough and aggressive character all too willing to take charge of the group, especially in Welters.
  • Character Development: Janet got some of this during her time as regent; a chapter of the third book has her detailing a three-month trip to annex a desert that led to much introspection.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Startles everyone by actually bringing a gun to Fillory and shooting one of her opponents.
  • Gossipy Hens: Not above exchanging a little gossip every now and again for the purposes of entertainment, hence the scene where she gleefully reveals the story of Emily Greenstreet.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: During her fifth year, she's reportedly envious of the relationship between Quentin and Alice and upset over the fact that she herself can't get into a relationship with Eliot, resulting in her covertly jabbing at Alice's traumas.
  • An Ice Person: Her discipline is ice magic.
  • The Leader: Generally takes charge of the group in circumstances that require a clear head and bossy leadership, though she shares the position with Penny during the journey to Fillory. As such, she steps quite readily into the role of a queen in Fillory.
  • Mage Marksman: Brought a gun with her to Fillory and uses it to defend herself in Ember's Tomb.
  • Out of Focus: Out of all the Physical Kids, she arguably got the least amount of focus in the first book, lacking the serious one-on-one moments of vulnerability of Alice, Josh and Eliot; even her biggest scene features her talking about someone else.
  • Really Gets Around: Well-known for being promiscuous. She even shagged Eliot.

     Other Student Magicians 

Penny

  • Ancient Tradition: Has joined the Order, the group that built and maintains the Neitherlands, when Quentin meets him in Book 2.
  • An Arm and a Leg: During the climax, Martin Chatwin bites Penny's hands off.
  • Arrow Catch: Casts a spell to speed up his reflexes and catch an arrow when the gang are shot at shortly after they get to Fillory.
  • Black Mage: The first of the team to consider using highly-illegal battle magic in order to combat the dangers in Fillory, having prepared several rudimentary attack spells prepared in advance. Alongside Alice, he's the most skilled of the Brakebills graduates - and unlike Alice, he has no overwhelming aversion towards violence. It's for this reason that the Beast chews off his arms, leaving the group's first line of offence crippled.
  • Break the Haughty: His attempt to fight the Beast goes very badly, resulting in Penny's hands being brutally chewed off, leaving him bleeding out on the floor right next to Quentin. Deprived of magic and seemingly broken-spirited, his last scene in the first book features him unceremoniously drifting into the Neitherlands and vanishing.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Without his hands, Penny loses the capacity for spellcasting. The Order teaches him how to cast spells using the muscles of his body instead.
  • Can't Take Anything with You: His discipline lets him take a few things he can carry to the Neitherlands but not other people.
  • Crippling the Competition: Martin Chatwin chews Penny's hands off in order to deprive the group of their primary battle magician.
  • Dimensional Traveller: His unique discipline lets him do this, but he can only get to the Neitherlands and back again rather than explore other worlds in their entirety.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Of course, it's not his real name.
  • Given Name Reveal: During the final battle, the Beast offhandedly reveals that Penny's real name is actually William.
  • Guardian of the Multiverse: Basically what The Order does.
  • Ineffectual Loner: All in all, Penny's attempts at keeping himself to himself for the majority of his post-graduate life went somewhat awry once he realized that his profoundly important magical studies had left him deeply lonely and discontented.
  • Insufferable Genius: The only other first-year student who's remotely on the same level as Quentin and Alice, and he isn't shy about showing it off. Following graduation, he's quick to show off his discoveries concerning the Neitherlands, and during his discussion of his powers, actually reveals that he refers to his teachers on a first-name basis - which is not only presumptuous but more than a little rude.
  • Jerkass: Blunt, arrogant, and more than a little clueless around people, Penny shares Quentin's habit of making poorly-thought-out assumptions of his fellow students - but crosses the line into assholishness a lot earlier by physically assaulting Quentin. He seems to have grown up a bit following his graduation, but he's not above putting his foot in it from time to time.
  • Magic Librarian: After the first book he works looking after a Library of Babel in the Neitherlands.
  • Power Floats: He tends to levitate rather than walk after joining The Order.
  • Put on a Bus: On the way back through the Neitherlands, he leaves the party for another world. In the second book, The Bus Came Back
  • The Quincy Punk: Right down to the Mohawk and the nasty attitude, though it's more out of an attempt to annoy people than a genuine lifestyle choice. For good measure, Lev Grossman reveals that he actually grew up in a Southern California gated community, making him a prime example of the "crusty trusty" punk.
  • Too Much Alike: Lev Grossman indicates that he and Quentin are a lot more alike than they're prepared to admit, including the same oblivious near-childish nature, one of the many reasons why they can't get along. Among other things, the fact that Quentin and Penny both end up gung-ho to explore Fillory really annoys Quentin, to the point that he actually tells him not to agree with him.

Anaïs

  • Adapted Out: Doesn't appear in Alice's Story.
  • Blood Knight: After the first fight, she starts to enjoy killing things with magic a little too much.
  • Hot Witch
  • 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.
  • Shock and Awe: Makes use of lightning-based magic in the final battle.

Richard

  • Adapted Out: Makes no appearance in Alice's Story.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: During the journey to Fillory, Richard decides that the place is too dangerous for them and resolves to stay behind at the inn while the others journeyed to Ember's Tomb. Though Quentin is unconscious at the time, he eventually learns that Richard had a change of heart not long after and rescued them from the maze of tunnels after the final battle, essentially saving the day.
  • The Comically Serious: A rather blunt, humorless type, he ends up setting the stage for one of the funnier parts of the first book by getting completely shitfaced and proposing the idea that magic is divine in origin.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Joyless stick in the mud though he may be, Richard is right in pointing out that the journey through Fillory is a really stupid idea that's probably going to get somebody hurt or killed. By the end of the journey, Quentin has been chewed on, Penny is missing his hands, and Alice is a Niffin and thus effectively dead.
  • 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.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After it becomes clear that the group is seeking an extremely dangerous quest instead of exploration, Richard parks his ass in the tavern and refuses to join them. As it turns out, he had the right idea all along, though he changes his mind just long enough to save Quentin and the others from Ember's Tomb.
  • Straight Man: Appropriately enough, he acts as this to Eliot during one notable argument.
  • The Stoic: During arguments, anyway.

    The Brakebills Faculty 

Dean Fogg

  • 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.
  • Cynical Mentor
  • Dean Bitterman: He's not necessarily mean per se, but he's definitely blunt and obstinate.
  • Fat Bastard
  • Gentleman Wizard
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: To Quentin in the second book, anyway.
  • Underestimating Badassery: 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.

Professor March

Professor Sunderland

  • Extra-ore-dinary: Apparently, her magical discipline is concerned with metallurgy.
  • Hot Teacher
  • Hot Witch
  • Intangible Woman: When the Faculty was attempting to break the Beast's hold on Professor March's classroom, Sunderland apparently tried 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.

Professor Bigby

Professor Mayakovsky

  • The Aloner: What he apparently spends his spare time as.
  • The Archmage: One of the most powerful magicians in the entire story.
  • Bad Santa: Quentin briefly wonders if he's some kind of Anti-Santa living at the South Pole, having his elves make lumps of coal for Anti-Christmas.
  • Cynical Mentor
  • Dare to Be Badass: Delivers at least two of these kind of speeches to his students.
  • Dragon Rider: Quentin remembers Mayakovsky telling him that he road on the back of a dragon when they stormed the Neitherlands. But Quentin can't remember if he actually said this or if it was a drunk hallucination.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Acid: Invented a universal solvent that eats through any container you put it in so it has to be kept magically floating in mid-air.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Perpetual Motion Machine: Has built one.
  • 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.
  • Polar Madness: Not only inflicts this on students during their time trapped with him Antarctica, it's heavily implied that he's been personally suffering from this trope. Stories and flashbacks in the novels and comics alike indicate that he used to be much more relaxed prior to his reassignment. Now his only company is the band of Fourth-Year students sent to him every year, leaving him alone in the mind-numbing polar hellscape for long periods, and he's not allowed to leave except to check that the portal back to the main campus is working. With this in mind, it's perhaps no surprise that he's degenerated into the perfection-obsessed maniac he is today.
  • Power Floats: Emphasizes his first scene in Alice's Story, by very casually levitating above his newest students and floating out the door.
  • 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.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Simply doesn't care about using his inventions to help the world.
  • Resigned in Disgrace: Following his disastrous affair with Emily Greenstreet, Mayakovsky was given a choice between resigning with his reputation in tattered, or being reassigned. Either out of pride or simply because he knew how purposeless his life would be without work, he opted to spend the rest of his career exiled to Antarctica.
  • 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...
  • Seven League Boots: Seven thousand league boots are among his inventions.
  • Shock and Awe: Told Quentin that he used lightning magic to shatter the bell jar over the Neitherlands. Quentin isn't sure if this happened, like the dragon riding mentioned above but it would explain why the Neitherlands suddenly has weather at the end of the second book.
  • So Proud of You: To Quentin at the end of the final exam.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: With Emily Greenstreet, portrayed in a non-romantic fashion born out of childish infatuation on Emily's part and a mid-life crisis on the part of Mayakovsky. According to Janet, it's not known just how far they took this little affair, though flashbacks in Alice's Story features them kissing while in various stages of undress, so it's likely they really did take it all the way into sex... up until Mayakovsky got cold feet and ended their affair.
  • Thinking Up Portals: How he gets students back to Brakebills.
  • Training from Hell: The official provider of said training.
  • 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.

    Denizens of Fillory 

Fen

The Beast AKA Martin Chatwin

  • Big Bad: The true villain of the first book, around which the story secretly revolves.
  • 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.
  • Country Matters: Refers to the Watcherwoman as one.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Magician's Land reveals that his monstrous aspect is actually due to him making a deal with Umber, exchanging his humanity for a permanent stay in Fillory.
  • Dying as Yourself: Not exactly. He's seen in the afterlife in the second book. He's turned back into a normal human schoolboy.
  • 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.
  • Evil Brit
  • 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Started off as an ordinary kid with a little experience with Fillory, before his unaddressed traumas drove him to flee into Fillory and never return.
  • 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.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Eats Amanda Orloff alive; later, bites off Penny's hands and swallows them whole. Not long after, he admits to have developed quite a taste for sapient meat, and then starts taking bites out of Quentin.
  • Humanoid Abomination
  • Knight of Cerebus: Each of his appearances leads to the story taking a far darker turn, with consequential character deaths.
  • Man Bites Man: What he does to Penny's hands and Quentin's collarbone.
  • Mood-Swinger: Goes from playing around with spells to punching a clock, from eating Amanda Orloff alive to exiting with a song. Plus, in his second appearance, his mood turns on another dime and he begins screaming in rage, even dropping a C-bomb. As it happens, Martin Chatwin was known to suffer from mood swings and fits of depression when he was still human, likely stemming from his abuse at the hands of Christopher Plover.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: The Beast is just about unstoppable in combat; the Physical Kids might be able to knock him about and burn his suit away, but even Alice's library of spells can't kill him. Hence why she has to resort to becoming a Niffin.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Notable for his exceptionally childlike behaviour, even leaving the scene of his first appearance while singing a lullaby; fitting, considering that Martin Chatwin was — at the most — an adolescent when he ran away from home.
  • Red Right Hand: The Beast appears completely human except for three or four extra fingers on each hand.
  • Sizeshifter: Magically increases his size to keep up with Alice's transformations, turning the whole thing into a Shapeshifter Showdown.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: One of the most powerful hedge-wizards in the entire series, ruling over Fillory as its king in all but name; once Quentin summons him into Ember's Tomb, he's able to claim the crown and make it official.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Under the branch, he looks more like an accountant than anything else.
  • Time Stands Still: Makes his entrance by stopping time for everyone in a lecture hall of Brakebills.
  • Tuneless Song of Madness: The earliest hint that he has a human intellect with a very tenuous grasp of sanity is when he begins idly singing "Bye, Baby Bunting" not long after killing Amanda Orloff.
  • Was Once a Man

The Watcherwoman AKA "the paramedic" AKA Jane Chatwin.

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    The Real World 

Emily Greenstreet

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Styles herself as a sweet girl who was just a victim of evil magic, yet strung along Alice's brother for no good reason and ended up using him as a healing resource instead of seeking out professional help - getting him effectively killed in the process. For good measure, she has no problem living a parasitic existence dependent on the funding of the magicians she claims to hate and mistrust.
  • Career Revealing Trait: Quentin instantly recognizes Emily as a fellow Brakebills alumnus by the overdeveloped musculature of her hands and fingers, acquired as a result of years spent practicing ridiculously complex gestures.
  • Defector from Decadence: Subverted — she only thinks she's one of these. In reality, she's just making excuses for just how miserable sh really is.
  • Facial Horror: Accidentally inflicted this on herself while trying to pretty herself up for Mayakovsky. The novel doesn't go into much detail, though the brief glimpse we get in Alice's Story indicates that her nose was destroyed. According to Janet, even after having her face repaired, Emily looks quite different today.
  • 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 Charlie's death was due to her a) stringing him along while pining for Mayakovsky, b) accidentally disfiguring herself while trying to make herself more attractive for Professor Sexypants, and c) Charlie trying to heal her but being too upset to work magic calmly and transforming into a Niffin. She even serves as an enabler to Quentin's own version of this trope, before he finally realizes he can't blame magic and he can't stop dodging the blame for a disaster he helped cause, and leaves her.
  • The Slacker: Not only does she spend her days pretending to hold down a real job while under full support of the Brakebills old boys' network, but she's too lazy to even make her idea of The Unmasqued World a reality.
  • Vain Sorceress: A failed version, having disfigured herself with magic.
  • Windmill Crusader: Apparently believes that Bakebills is populated entirely by human nuclear bombs waiting to go off, and believes that someone has to break the Masquerade and bring the whole thing into the public eye... and judging by her frankly delusional idea of what magic is, it's best not to imagine what she hopes would happen next. Not only does Emily not have the ambition to make her demented beliefs a reality, but she's completely wrong: when the big apocalyptic disaster does occur, it's not due to the Brakebills crowd at all - who actually instruct their students not to screw around with forbidden knowledge - but due to a group of Hedge-Wizards.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Emily seems to be under the impression that she's the virtuous hero of a story in which the brave Defector from Decadence leaves pure evil magic and all its Evil Sorcerer practitioners behind before they can cause an apocalypse, and finds love in the arms of a fellow defector. In reality, most magicians are too busy wasting time to bother with an apocalypse, and Quentin ends up so turned off by her attitude that he can't stand to remain in her presence.

Introduced in The Magician King

     Magicians 

Julia Wicker

One of Quentin's oldest friends. Originally introduced in the first book as a tertiary character, she becomes a protagonist in the second.
  • Amnesia Missed a Spot
  • 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.
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: In Fillory.
  • 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.
  • Blood Magic: Cuts her thumb and puts it to the ignition in order to magically hotwire a car.
  • Broken Bird
  • The Call Put Me on Hold
  • Childhood Friends: With Quentin.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: We can tell almost from her re-introduction in the first book that she is pretty badly traumatized, but the full cause is not revealed until close to the end of the second.
  • Dark Magical Girl
  • The Determinator: She is going to learn magic, dammit.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: She starts to look this way when she dyes her hair black and loses a lot of weight after being rejected from Brakebills.
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: After she's rejected from Brakebills and still remembers, she dyes her hair and starts wearing black.
  • Mega Neko: Rides a giant talking civet in Fillory.
  • Nature Spirit: Ends up getting turned into a dryad with her own tree by Our Lady Underground.
  • Rape as Backstory
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: Justified. 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.
  • Refused by the Call
  • The Resenter
  • 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.
  • Youthful Freckles: Julia has them. It’s mentioned that they clash with her Goth appearance later on.

Poppy - an Australian magician

  • Brutal Honesty: One of her main traits is that she always speaks the truth about a situation, but she never does it in a cruel manner or mean spirit
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Tends to just charge in when others are moving cautiously. For example, when Josh and Julia are still discussing what they should be doing in the swamp, she just jumps right in, not knowing this is what they were supposed to do to reach Castle Blackspire.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Despite her Brutal Honesty, she will engage in whimsical activities such as jumping into the river with Quentin to contact the dragon, for the simple reason of it doubling their chances, even though the river is disgusting. She also becomes Quentin's second major love interest, but ends up with Josh after Quentin is forced to leave Fillory by Ember at the end of the second book.

     The Free Trader Beowulf group 

Asmodeus

  • Femme Fatale: Adopts this as her persona while working in the magical underworld after her run in with Reynard.
  • Hero of Another Story
  • Improbable Age: She is the youngest member of Free Trader Beowulf, at around seventeen. Julia wonders a few times how she managed to become a hedge witch so young, and where her parents are.
  • Kill the God: Asmodeus eventually uses the knife from the heist to gut Reynard like a fish, as told by Julia near the end of the trilogy.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: After the events with Reynard, Asmodeus begins looking for a way to get revenge on him.

Pouncy Silverkitten

  • Broken Ace: A handsome, intelligent and successful young man who’s also a powerful magician but he has suffered from terrible clinical depression all his life, to the point where he has given up on finding happiness on earth and only hopes that the deity the group is trying to summon will take him with her into heaven.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Known for his “acid sarcasm.” It turns out to be of the Stepford variety.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tragically subverted, Reynard the Fox wounds him, and then he offers to give his life to save Asmo and Julia. Reynard dismisses it, saying he’s dying anyway.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Is the one who funds the Murs enclave, and one of the driving forces behind finding out how to harness the magic of the Gods
  • The Team Benefactor

Failstaff

  • Big Fun: Failstaff's main character traits are that he is large, and he is one of the nicest members of Free Trader Beowulf

     Denizens of Fillory 

Bingles - the best swordsman in Fillory and Quentin's bodyguard

  • Cool Sword: Gains a magic sword during his adventures at sea.
  • Drama Queen: Prone to making melodramatic statements.

Benedict - sullen teenage cartographer

  • Emo Teen: An angsty teenager who reminds Quentin a lot of himself when he was younger. Grows out of it while searching for Quentin on the Muntjac, and seems much happier when he meets up with Quentin again a year later.

Elaine - Fillorian customs agent

Eleanore - Elaine's daughter

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