Best friends Quentin and Julia are mysteriously recruited to take an entrance exam to Brakebills University, a secret institution for magical pedagogy.
Quentin is distraught as he faces expulsion for his involvement in an otherworldly attack on Brakebills, while Julia delves deeper into underground magic and takes a test to prove herself to the Hedge Witches.
Quentin and Julia have an unexpected - and volatile - reunion. Penny is overwhelmed by the power of his own psychic abilities and Alice is determined to find out what happened to her missing brother - at any cost.
Quentin wakes up in a mental hospital and must set his panic aside to seek the help of the one person he least trusts.
Although everyone should be training for the upcoming Welter's Tournament, the students are each dealing with a personal distraction that keeps them from staying focused.
The first-year students are put through The Trials, a series of unconventional and emotional tests. Those who pass will experience the journey of a lifetime. Fail, and their time at Brakebills is over.
The Brakebills students endure the rigors of Brakebills South and the harsh methods of Professor Mayakovsky. Eliot and Margo’s friendship is threatened when Eliot finds a new love interest.
Brakebills is thrown into chaos when Penny is violently attacked by someone they thought was a friend while Quentin tries to find a connection to The Beast. After entering a rehab facility, Julia considers giving up magic for good.
Quentin, Alice, Eliot and Penny travel to England to Plover's estate in search of a missing magic button, but what they find is a hauntingly terrifying vision of the author's true self. Julia, now out of rehab, searches for real meaning in her magic, but it comes at a very high cost.
Penny travels to the world of The Neitherlands where he soon finds it's not as friendly as he thought. Quentin and Alice must work together, no matter how uncomfortable, to save him.
Quentin and the others learn battle magic as they prepare for a showdown in Fillory. But this challenge leads to building frustrations...pushing some apart and others together.
After a night of drinking, the students wake up to foggy memories and a healthy dose of regret. But Penny is quick to remind them all that there’s no time for talking out feelings -- their very lives depend on getting to The Neitherlands as soon as possible.
Using time magic, Quentin and Julia have arrived in Fillory and now must try to catch up with the rest who are more than 70 years ahead of them, searching for The Beast.