Quentin Coldwater. Our nerdy anti-hero who was ambling through life when Brakebills University found him - literally. Also, Quentin’s a huge a fan of Christopher Plover’s Fillory & Further (we’ll get back to these) novels. And also? While, Quentin would never be considered a “lady’s man” by any means, ain’t he cute?
Then there’s Alice. She has the whole sexy nerd thing going for her. Her brother Charlie was enrolled at Brakebills until he turned into a Niffin (a blue fire ghost) and is now forever locked in a Niffin box. Also, she comes from a magical family and has parents who are swingers - yes, swingers. Alice’s magic specialty is Phosphormancy which means she can use her magic to bend light. Also she and Quentin become boyfriend and and girlfriend and it was all really sweet and cute until Quentin got drunk off magic emotions and had a threesome with …
Penny also enjoys Kady, his bad to the bone girlfriend who rocks side braids and a nose ring. Kady gets kicked out of Brakebills because she got caught stealing. She also left with Penny’s heart. #feels
Oh and then there’s Julia a gorgeous overachiever who was on her way to Ivy League grad school when she was tapped to take the Brakebills enrollment exam but didn’t make the cut. Julia is/was Quentin’s bff but him getting into Brakebills and her not getting into Brakebills caused #tension between the two of them
K, so now that you’ve met everybody let’s dive into the plot shall well? Mkay so on the way to mediocrity, Quentin was poached by one Dean Fogg and one Eliza to take a Brakebills University admissions exam. Their hidden agenda - you knew there had to be one right? - is that Quentin was preselected because he was destined to fight The Beast and basically save the world from The Beast’s evil reign because…supernatural villains are a thing and are always super interesting to watch.
Enter The Beast, who looked more like he should have been named The Moth, but whatever. The Beast is a character Quentin only thought existed in his favorite mythical series of books Fillory & Further , but that’s totally not so. Not only are the Fillory & Further books real, so is The Beast and he’s out for blood— Quentin’s blood specifically! In the midst of trying to kill Quentin, The Beast ends up ripping out Dean Fogg’s eyeballs and breaking his hands so that he can’t do magic. Ouch.
Also, Eliza? She actually turned out not to be a college recruiter after all (go figure) but is actually Jane Chatwin, one of the main characters in the Fillory Books. Also, she gets killed by Eliot’s boyfriend who was possessed by The Beast and then Eliot had to kills his boyfriend which killed his boyfriend’s body but not The Beast’s soul.
Oh and about Fillory. As mentioned, it’s a story written by Quentin’s favorite author, Christopher Plover, about an English brother and sister, Jane and Martin Chatwin from the early 1900s. The pair time travel from England - courtesy of a magical phone booth portal - to the land of Fillory where they encounter The Beast. Scary, scary! In one of the final books in the Fillory series, the two Chatwin kids disappeared, never to heard of again. Dun!
As all of this plot is occurring within the walls of Brakebills, outside of the school, Julia joined a group of Hedge Witches that consists of Brakebills outcasts and other ne’er-do-wellers, like Marina, the scowling woman seen here. It seemed like Julia had found her place in life until she ended up pissing off the head Hedge Witch and then being outsted from the group. Cue Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”.
But back to nice Richard, who of course turned out to be not so nice after all, which was really a bummer because we wanted to believe in the magic of niceness. Richard is in fact Reynard The Fox a trickster god that Julia and her new magician friends unwittingly summoned. Reynard kills all of Julia’s friends and eats one of their hearts (gross). Kady escapes and then Reynard …rapes Julia! :(
… So later when Quentin shows up asking for help, Julia has no recollection of the horrible attack. Quentin needs Julia’s help traveling to Fillory to help rescue his friends because they all got stuck there. While there, Quentin plans on slaying The Beast once and for all.
In an earlier conversation with Dean Fogg, Quentin learns that his whole life (or Season - depending on your perspective) is nothing more than a time loop on some Battlestar Galactica tip. “All of this has happened before and all of this has happened again.” Turns out THIS is why Quentin is so special. He’s been here before - several times - always with the task of conquering The Beast and each time he fails. But the rub? Dean Fogg tells Quentin that this is his last shot. If he dies this time, that’s it! No pressure.
Once in Fillory, Quentin and Julia happen upon someone who bares a striking resemblance to Eliza/Jane Chatwin. It’s a character from the books called The Watcher Woman who actually is the young girl version of Jane Chatwin all grown up. Q, gives her the download on his mission and she tells him to beware. Also, she notes that Julia’s mind has some serious guards up but Quentin doesn’t have time to inquire about that because he has a Beast to kill.
Quentin, Julia and the rest of the Brakebills crew learn that the only way they can slay The Beast is with the Leo Blade. And also? Only the Chosen One (so to speak) can wield the blade, otherwise it burns the hand of anyone who tries to hold it.
Also, Julia and Q encounter Ember, a horned god who’s had dealings with The Beast, who tells them that in addition tot he Leo Blade, the designated Beast slayer also has to drink his sperm. Yep. no pretty way to phrase that. Grossness aside Ember removes the block on Julia’s memory and the horrible details come crashing back to her all at once.
After doing some research, Q and his friends thought that Christopher Plover, who turned out to be a dirty pedophile that was sexually abused Martin Chatwin, was The Beast… but alas Martin Chatwin, all grown up, is The Beast!
And…in another turn of “We didn’t see that coming!” Julia is able to wield the Leo Blade, taking it from Alice, and then makes a deal with The Beast. With the blade to his neck, Julia tells The Beast that she’ll spare his life so long as he helps her find Reynard ‘cause she’s got a bone to pick. Meanwhile, Quentin is left behind to watch all of his friends die.