How 15 of Your Favorite Authors Might Finish George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire

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From the Spanish edition of The World of Ice and FIre

To paraphrase Douglas Adams: George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think The Lord of the Rings is big, but that’s just peanuts to ASoIaF.

It’s so big, it’s little wonder it’s been a challenge for one lone writer to finish it—even if that writer did originally plan to fit its story a tidy trilogy before discovering that his favorite thing in the world was inventing new characters and sending them down rabbit holes.

There would be no shame, then, if George R.R. Martin were to ask for a bit of help in finishing off his series—in fact, the results might be something remarkable. In a few weeks, HBO’s Game of Thrones adaptation will give us one ending for the story. Here’s how we imagine 15 other writers might finish off Martin’s revolutionary series (but make no mistake: there’s no substitute for the real thing, and we’re willing—if not entirely happy—to wait for GRRM to give us the real deal).

Stephen King
The Golden Company, the Unsulllied, the Night’s Watch, the Free Folk, and the Stark vassals are all gathered for the final battle. The armies of the dead arrive and take up position. Suddenly, in the distance, strange music. A looping, eerie riff echoes as the Night’s King flies in on the back of an Ice Dragon. It’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” The Night’s King lands and hops off. “Hi there,” he says, looking around. “Name’s Flagg. Randall Flagg.” Meanwhile, Bran has a strange experience, warging to find himself in control of a man named Stephen King, a resident of “New York City” in the year “1982.” Bran, as King, locates a young Brooklyn boy who never speaks and is obsessed with a handheld video game called The Doom of Valyria. They encounter a disgraced Olympic shotputter named Alison, and the trio returns together to Westeros, where the game is suddenly transformed into an ancient magical relic: the Doomglass. But the Night’s King is about to win the battle, and they are too far away. “I got this,” says Alison, who shotputs the Doomglass directly at the wintery fiend, who explodes in a mushroom-shaped cloud of fire as all his minions turn to ice and shatter.

J.K. Rowling
Jon Snow, Daenerys, and Samwell work together in the midst of an epic, raging battle—dragon duels, swarms of White Walkers clashing with the Golden Company, Bran just warging into everything—until Jamie Lannister winds up in a duel with the Night’s King himself. Jamie puts up a great fight but slowly loses ground—until Jon, Danny, and Sam arrive to plunge a dragonglass dagger into the Night’s King’s back, destroying him and his army. At the last second, however, the Night’s King turns and injures Sam, driving them back. Suddenly a mysterious figure in a cloak emerges from the boiling battlefield, retrieving the dagger. His hood flutters back and he’s revealed to be Petyr Baelish. “I did warn you not to trust me, you know,” he says with a smirk. Screaming “For Catelyn! Always!” Littlefinger charges at the Night’s King and sacrifices himself, winning the day for the living. Turns out, the bad guy was a hero all along!

Brandon Sanderson
After reviewing George R.R. Martin’s notes, Sanderson announces it will take not two but six more books to finish the story properly. After delivering four 1,000-page tomes, Sanderson himself passes away (buried under a pile of 3,500 manuscript pages for the ninth book in the Stormlight Archive) with the story still incomplete. It is the year 2049. The final two books are completed by Christopher Paolini, working from Sanderson’s notes on Martin’s outlines, and are beamed directly into people’s brains via the NookVR brain uplink.

Cormac McCarthy
The endless lines of undead stood implacable and numb not hungry or thirsty but wanting and haunted by the vague memories of life that still burned like minor coals within them. The ice dragon soared above shadow and claw and smashed into the warm fiery life of Daenerys’ remaining beasts of fire and rage. The White Walkers knew what she did not know the secret of the true hidden universe that they had sprung from the dark maw of a devouring universe. She thought she brought death with her flying in on thick leathery wings and fueled by her own rage her own will her own fate and family and legacy and doom. She did not know death. They knew death and they knew it to be ravenous and infinite and the destination that did not come in fire and blood but in the slow steady creep of snow and ice. From the North! Always from the North. And the North would become the world and the world would become the desolate perfect shining gem of ancient things.

Neil Gaiman
The entire final novel is from Samwell’s point of view as he writes the final volume of his history. He reveals that the Night’s King was actually Bran, who went into the past and became his own worst enemy. Bran was also the Mad King, and, in fact, also everyone else. Everyone was Bran. A complex braid of timelines involved Bran going into the past over and over again; Bran was even Samwell for a time, but found it terribly boring and abandoned him. Bran amused himself by directing the events of the War of the Five Kings and the White Walker invasion, and eventually controlled everyone in Westeros. He was finally defeated when Nymeria arrived at the head of the Dog Army, the only independent creatures left in Westeros. Sam’s final paragraphs reveal that Westeros abandoned the old religions and now worships dogs, and all is right in the world.

Chuck Palahniuk
The entire final book is narrated by Hot Pie, who is captured by a cult of insane worshipers of the Red God and imbued with the ability to come back from death. He dies multiple times, using his ability as a way of getting out of dangerous or simply embarrassing situations. As the story progresses, his deaths become increasingly bizarre and disturbing, and he realizes that every time he comes back he’s a little thinner; instead of his usual stout body, by the end of the story he’s skinny and frail. He changes his name to “Hot Pocket” and begins to repeat the phrase “A little less of me, a little more life.” He discovers that when he speaks it, someone else dies, and he gains a little weight back. The cultists follow him to the Wall, where the Night’s King is fighting a desperate battle for Westeros. Hot Pocket speaks his phrase to the Night’s King, and in a flash, the frozen army is gone, and Hot Pie (again) grows to an enormous size in an instant. He then dies of multiple organ failure.

Dan Brown
Riding on the back of Drogon, Danny and Jon frantically scan the desolate ruins of Valyria. “It’s not here!” Jon shouts. “That can’t be!” Danny shouts back. “The riddle in the ancient tome your Samwell brought back must have—” She stops suddenly. “Jon! We’ve misunderstood!” Jon Snow blinks in surprise. “Of course! Samwell mistranslated the riddle!” He looked back at the Night’s King pursuing them on the back of Viserion. The Night’s King grins in triumph. “We’ve led him right to the Stone Men!” They both look down in horror as legions of the greyscale-infected men and women line up, a fresh army the Night’s King could now use to invade from the south in a pincer movement. “We’ve been such fools!” Danny shouts as Drogon banks into a turn. “The riddle—the Doom of Valyria! It’s Tyrion—our cousin! You must capture Viserion—you can control him because you came back from the dead! You’re already part wight! We must get Tyrion on Rhaegal, because the dragon has three heads!”

Jeff VanderMeer
As the armies of undead from north breach the Wall into Westeros, the true savage reality of the Night’s King’s plan is revealed: the threat is not from his zombie hordes, but from the environmental devastation they leave in their wake (it’s kind of a metaphor). With disaster creeping toward King’s Landing, Jon sends a small band of warriors—Brienne of Tarth (The Soldier), Cersei (The Queen), Arya (The Assassin), and Sansa (The Diplomat)—to investigate a rumor that he hopes will prove to be their salvation: that the Tower of Joy is actually a tunnel (and either way, it is certainly not supposed to represent a penis—some things are not a metaphor). Unfortunately, their group is undone by distrust and infighting on the road to the tower/tunnel, their number shrinking due to attrition (Brienne is seduced away from the group by a massive flying bear who whisks her away into the sky) and accident (Cersei falls into a pit chasing a strangely mute double of Jamie). Eventually, only Sansa and Arya remain, but when they descend into the Tower Tunnel of Joy, they encounter only an endless staircase and walls covered in vines that form a string of nonsense High Valerian. When they reach the bottom, something happens. We’re not exactly sure what, but it is very evocative. Anyway, Sansa is the only one who emerges, and she finds the battle over. Westeros is now a blasted landscape. In the ruins, Bran Stark befriends a talking mushroom. All along, it turns out, the real Night’s King was climate change.

James Patterson
Jamie Lannister, sick and tired of his insane sister’s bloody rampage, lives up to his name and slays her. Contrary to expectations, the Golden Company pledges their loyalty to him and he leads them against the White Walkers. As a team, they then go on to star in a spin-off series, The Golden Murder Company, solving crimes throughout Westeros. Meanwhile, Jon and Danny race to stop the Night’s King, revealed to be Bran Stark (again), who traveled thousands of years into the past and went insane from the long wait for history to catch up. The whole story has been a secret plot engineered by Bran to gather the world’s dragonglass in one spot so he can use it to set off a magical chain reaction using a mixture of magic, greyscale infection vectors, and explosives that will turn every living thing in the world into an undead wight. The heroes burst into the Night’s King’s secret lair just as he is about to plunge the world into eternal winter. Jon and the Night’s King fight while Danny, mortally wounded, crawls to the dragonglass bomb and disables it just as Jon kills the king. Outside, the armies pause in wonder as winter melts away. Jon and Danny kiss.

Robin Hobb
In a sensational twist, after delivering the brilliant A Dream of Spring, Hobb reveals that she invented the persona of George R.R. Martin in 1963 and hired an actor to portray the writer in public, like JT LeRoy. In a second, unexpected twist, Martin crashes the press conference to claim the exact opposite: he invented Robin Hobb in 1980 and hired an actress to play her in public. Then Patrick Rothfuss shows up and claims he is actually 97 years old and has been both writers for decades. Megan Lindholm watches from the shadows.

Josiah Bancroft
Reeling from a permanent hangover that has plagued him steadily for months with no sign of lessening, Tyrion Lannister frantically flees a horde of wights. Suddenly a voice calls out to him. He spins to find Arya Stark beckoning. They scramble down an embankment, and Tyrion stops in shock: here is Drogon. “I thought all the dragons were killed!” Arya snorts. “No, he merely had his wings pulled off.” Tyrion looks again—Drogon is indeed wingless, and Arya has outfitted the creature with a large balloon, inflated by the dragon’s fiery breath, and a sail made from one of the Golden Company’s battle flags. They scramble aboard, and Arya flies about picking up survivors as the Night’s King overwhelms Westeros in triumph. Jamie scrambles up, his newly-mechanized hand giving him the power to steer their dragon-ship. Sansa is pulled aboard, as is Cersei, Jon, and Danny. Arya goes to the dragon’s head to plot their course. Westeros is lost, but she has heard rumor of other lands—richer, more dangerous lands. And as she takes off her face for the first time in years, she feels free to be herself again. To be the Waif.

Charlie Jane Anders
The final battle appears lost, and the Night’s King is glorying in his mad triumph. Suddenly, Arya appears before him, wielding Needle. The battles rages behind her; she is bloody and desperate. The Night’s King mocks her—what will one small girl do? Arya says she’s not alone—suddenly Danny stands next to her. Then Sansa, Melisandre, and Brienne appear. The women link hands and stare balefully at the Night’s King as Melisandre incants a spell. Their eyes begin to glow, and they lift off the ground a few inches, calling on the magic they’d all felt their whole lives, in their bones, hidden and secret, the magic that helped them find one another, pulling them together even as their broken pasts tried to push them apart. There is a flash of white light and the Night’s King is dissolved into a bone-white ash that drifts away on the wind, followed shortly by his wights. Behind the women, the warriors pause in confusion for a moment, then begin fighting each other just as desperately. Arya sighs and makes a pop culture reference, but it’s actually pretty timeless. The women turn around and link hands again.

Patrick Rothfuss

T/K

V.E. Schwab
Bran discovers that when he visits and sometimes affects the past, he is actually visiting and affecting alternate versions of Westeros—there are in fact many alternate worlds, separated by a thin veil of reality. As he moves between them, he discovers one where there is much more magic than in his version of Westeros. In Red Westeros (not red like blood, though we can see making that mistake), magic is everywhere, with a hearty dragon population and just about everyone using potions and amulets and cavorting with the Children of the Forest. There’s also a Gray Westeros with no magic at all, a grim, mechanized place where Cersei is the CEO of a corporation that produces perfumes and beauty products that kill you if you use them for too long. Bran opens up a portal to this horrible Westeros and the Night’s King and his army are forced into it. Arriving in the magic-less Westeros, they become lifeless statues. Back in Westeros Prime, the humans simply reorient their armies and get on with trying to kill each other, but for different reasons. Bran realizes he is living in Black Westeros. You don’t want to know about Black Westeros.

Sabaa Tahir
Surprisingly, the final battle between the armies of Westeros, the Golden Company, the Free Folk, the Night’s Watch, and the Night’s King is over very early in the final book. Cersei is deposed and Daenerys is acclaimed the new Queen, taking Jon Snow as her consort despite learning that they are related (it’s… actually kind of sexy?). However, as the armies disperse and move back south, they discover that a massive invasion force from Sothoryros has arrived and overrun King’s Landing and everything south of The Twins. The two forces clash, and the exhausted combined forces, now serving under Daenerys, are quickly defeated as the Sothoryrosi reveal incredibly advanced magical and technological capabilities. It’s evident they regard all of them as “northern barbarians.” A new age of peace and achievement dawns, and lasts for thousands of years.

If you were to choose an author to end A Song of Ice and Fire (beside George R.R. Martin of course), who would you nominate?

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Matriculate Magically: 14 Fantastical Institutions of Higher Learning

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Unseen University Library, by Discworld artist David Wyatt

The magical boarding school novel forms a robust subgenre of children’s and young adult fantasy literature. Harry Potter learns he’s a legacy student at Hogwarts; Percy Jackson is spirited off to a training ground for demigods; Lissa and Rose get dragged back to St. Vladimir’s, the vampire academy. This, despite the fact that the boarding school is not where most children (certainly, most American children) receive their educations these days. Structurally, I can see why authors love the setting: the magical academy submerges the child into another world, cut off from the mundanity of the everyday. Boarding school fictions also separate a kid from his or her parents, who, in much young adult fantasy, are impediments to the overt plot, and must be dispatched somehow. (This can also be achieved by rendering our protagonist an orphan, which makes Harry Potter something of a twofer: an orphan in a boarding school.)

These days, it’s entrance to the university—with its dorms and dining halls, sororities and internships, and circumscribed freedoms for people just teetering into adulthood—that is the more resonant circumstance for many readers. Going off to college can entail the first real severance from the family home and the home town, a strike out into the larger world. The addition of magic into this heady environment can be a complicating metaphor for the changes one undergoes in those early years of nascent adulthood. Certainly, the knack of adulting seemed like occult magic for me at that age, struggling through the larval stage of self-reliance. How much stranger it would have been with magic in the mix.

Here are 14 fantasy novels that take place in a college, university, or otherwise post-secondary setting. Not all of these colleges are magical in the sense that they teach the discipline of conjuring or the occult, and some of these stories follow professors instead of students as they navigate schools of magic, or the magic at their schools. Nevertheless, magic intrudes into each.

Miskatonic University (Chthlulu Mythos, by H.P. Lovecraft)
As the primary institution of higher learning in Lovecraft’s sprawling mythos, Miskatonic University, situated on the Miskatonic river in the Massachusetts town of Arkham—all of these places are fictional, by the way—is not a college of magic, but magic certainly infects the place, over and over. At Miskatonic, both students and teachers fall prey to the eldritch horrors the author is so well associated with. Miskatonic also boasts a prodigious archive of texts, which includes a copy of the Necronomicon (klaatu, barada, nik … cough cough). In this as in many fantasy novels, the college library is as important as the classroom: a repository for arcane and occult wisdom.

Unseen University (Discworld, by Terry Prattchet)
Due to the prodigious number of Discworld books—upwards of forty, though it depends on how you count them—Unseen University is probably the most extensively detailed university on this list. (In fact, there are at least three other magical universities in the series as well: Bugarup, Krull, and Brasenecks.) Not all Discworld novels are set at the wizarding school’s campus in the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork, but the exploits of UU’s head wizards is a main through-line for the series. In a sendup of the stuffiness of disconnected academia, the teachers at UU are largely so ancient they’ve forgotten each other’s names, and sometimes their own. The extremely overprotective librarian is a man-turned-orangutan, transformed in a magical mishap and none too bothered by it; his vocabulary consists of “ook” and “eek,” but everyone seems to understand him. He guards the university’s endless shelves (literally endless, mind you; there are Mobius shelves full of guides to the invisible and books never written) with a vengeance, and a scent of bananas hanging about. Altogether, the Unseen University is a teeming, active place, where just about anything can happen, and often does.

Eltisley Maze (All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders)
Patricia Delfine’s attendance at the magical college of Eltisley Maze occurs in the second act of All the Birds in the Sky, after she and her childhood friend, Laurence Armstead, escape more mundane high school hells. Patricia has a facility with magic, while Laurence’s talents are more technological, and the dialectic between magic and technology is one of the chief themes of the novel. Like many magical schools, Eltisley Maze has a variety of rules surrounding the use of magic, proscriptions Patricia regularly ignores in her post-graduate life. The university is a medieval institution, and its ways and rules are sometimes more traditional than rational. That may be doubly so for magical schools, which often seems to prioritize secrecy over compassion. Though Patricia and Laurence are both educated in profoundly different traditions—science fiction and fantasy, to put it reductively—the way they interact as individuals, irrespective of their educations, is the key to the novel’s conclusion.

Institute of Special Technologies (Vita Nostra, by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko)
Teenaged Sasha first meets the enigmatic Farit Kazhennikov when on a beach holiday with her mother. Through threat and innuendo, he coerces her to perform inexplicable tasks, which escalate through the next 18 months in his intractable insistence that she attend the Institute of Special Technologies. After her arrival in the provincial school, Sasha finds the curriculum incomprehensible, in service to a goal neither she nor her fellow first year students can fathom. It’s not entirely clear that the instruction provided by the Institute of Special Technologies is even magical in nature, even while Sasha experiences the inexplicable from the very first, as a girl on a beach with her mom, but it certainly has the power to reshape reality. Nevertheless, Vita Nostra is well grounded in the mundanity of dorm life—the petty squabbles with roommates, the friction of professors and students, the tearful calls home—and it soars in its description of the magical worlds that can open for the diligent student.

Blackstock College (Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean)
This one is close to my heart: the fictional Blackstock College of Tam Lin is set in my home state of Minnesota, with a protagonist who is the child of English professors. (I’m the child of English professors!) Blackstock is not a magical university, per se, but magic sneaks in at the edges, in relationships with professors, and those between students. The novel is full up with the minutia of dorm life as a first year—everything from the quality of the furniture, to the Meaning of Important works of Literature, to what outfit to wear to the big party is detailed, often to the point of tedium. But the tedium is exactly the point, and Tam Lin manages to capture the struggling inertness and great flights of fancy that I felt at that age. The magic intrudes late, and Dean twists it with real world consequences in such a satisfying way.

Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy (The Magicians, by Lev Grossman)
The Magicians is quite reasonably the book on this list most likely to be blurbed with something along the lines of “Harry Potter for adults.” The novel and trilogy follows Quentin Clearwater as he settles into his career at Brakebills, the only college for magic in America. As a child, Quentin loved a fictional Narnia-like series following the Chatwin family though the magical land of Fillory. This detail will be on the test later, though Quentin is initially disappointed when he’s told by the professors that magic isn’t nearly as amusing in real life as it is in those beloved books. Quentin and his cohorts are a students with magic at their disposal and not a ton of oversight, and both the hedonism that occurs, and the almost numbing boredom of learning magic (which requires a lot of tedious study and physical labor and not so many magic words), feels natural. Though Quentin is our protagonist, he is not portrayed as a chosen one or a hero, but more of a self-involved jerk, which describes most newly independent 18-year-olds, no?

University of the Archangels and St. John The Divine (Waking the Moon, by Elizabeth Hand)
The opening half of Waking the Moon follows a group of friends in their first, and, for most of them, final year at Divinity, as the extensively titled university is known in shorthand. Cassidy Sweeney is an average girl, but she falls in with the beautiful people during her time at Divinity: Angelica and Oliver, who turn out the be the Chosen Ones of a fell goddess of the moon. Their first year ends in expulsion or death, and the novel fast forwards 20-odd years into the future. The reawakening of the goddess, and the magnetic pull of her intrusion into the world, ties back to those almost simple-seeming transformative days, back when the future could still be anything. The events of that fateful freshman year resonate both spiritually and personally for all involved.

The University (The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss)
Despite being called simply “the University,” I view the school in Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind as something of an edge case for inclusion on this list (but I also don’t want to get yelled at in the comments). Kvothe is only 15 or 16 when he wiles his way into the student body, and he’s apparently had no formal schooling up to that point. His squabbles with his classmate Ambrose have a decidedly adolescent feel, and the corporal punishment meted out when he breaks the rules feels more boarding school than university. That said, Kvothe’s university has that truly Alexandrian library and archive, an enticing collection far vaster than the Hogwarts restricted section (and far more restricted, too: after Kvothe is blacklisted for perusing the stacks with a lit candle, he can’t figure out a way back in without some help from an inside source). Universities in the dark ages were outgrowths of the monastery, and the collection and concentration of arcane knowledge was at least as important as the education one might receive. In this, the University qualifies.

The Wizards’ University (Year of the Griffin, by Diana Wynne Jones)
Though technically a sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin is more shared world than true sequel. Like the University in The Name of the Wind, the institution in Year of the Griffin often feels more boarding school than college, but we will let this slide due to the sheer fun of the novel. Elda, the griffin daughter of a famous wizard, finds a complement of likeminded castoffs and misfits in her first year: several heirs of royal families in various states of hiding, children of enigmatic backgrounds, a revolutionary dwarf. The novel is one sendup of fantasy conventions after another, and also skewers the campus novel, and boarding school fantasies in general. It’s a wide-ranging romp that goes from the dorm cafeteria to Mars, and everywhere between. Wynne Jones had a knack for writing novels that feel loose—almost episodic—until they come together in the end, like a magician revealing a complex trick.

Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality (Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger) 
Until quite recently, historically speaking, women were not allowed admission to most colleges. Instead, women of a certain class were sent to finishing schools, where they learned comportment and etiquette; the school “finished” a lady who had already completed her secondary education. So they’re not quite colleges, but like colleges, finishing schools provide an education in the skills their students will need in their adult lives. Exasperated by her free spirited ways, Mrs. Temminnick sends her daughter Saphronia to a finishing school housed in a dirigible floating above Dartmoor. There, Saphronia learns which forks to use and how to dance a waltz, but she also takes classes in spycraft, espionage, and assassination. The curriculum at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy is wonderfully subversive.

Bedivere University (Hell Week, by Rosemary Clement-Moore)
Maggie Quinn, first year student at the same university where her father teaches, is determined to make her mark as a student journalist. Towards this end, she decides to rush with a sorority and write about the experience. Turns out, hell week—the term for the round of hazing before applicants are initiated into a Greek organization—is a little more literal in this novel than usual. Hell Week is the second novel in the Girl Vs. Evil series, taking place after the magically inclined Maggie Quinn saved prom night in Prom Dates from Hell. In this, Hell Week feels a little like the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, wherein a protagonist we followed through high school matriculates into college, though Clement-Moore still writes with a young adult sensibility. Which only makes sense, when you think about it: first year students are still teenagers, for the most part.

University of Inivea (Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall, by Suzette Mayr)
Most of the books on this list follow students;this one concerns instead a tenured professor in her travails in a university imbued with terrible magic. The University of Inivea is not technically a magical university, but the titular Crawley Hall, where Edith keeps an office and teaches classes, is possessed by an eldritch presence. Crawley Hall wants them all to get out, a mood that manifests as maggots falling from the ceiling, suddenly appearing sinkholes, shifting hallways, and strangely large, ubiquitous hares. Dr. Vane is so harried by her thesis advisor, her dean, her workload, her students, and her girlfriend that the cursed and conscious hall is more exasperating than truly frightening… at first. Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall is a biting satire of academic life, starting off in the vein of the campus novel, then slowly twisting with the toxicity manifested by the structure of the university itself, both metaphorically and physically.

Fairwick College (The Demon Lover, by Juliet Dark)
The Demon Lover is another novel that follows a professor more closely than the students. Callie McFay is a young adjunct who had modest success with a pop criticism book about vampires in contemporary Gothic lit. (Think Gilbert & Gubar writing about Twilight; that sort of thing.) She’s drawn inexplicably to a teaching position in Fairwick College in upstate New York, despite several other, more prestigious-seeming opportunities. There, the Gothic trappings of her academic work begin to manifest, in both her towered Victorian apartment and a Byronic suitor for her affections. Like Tam Lin, The Demon Lover wears its influences on its sleeve, purposely invoking the rich literary traditions it draws upon. This self-awareness doesn’t undercut the occult at the story’s center, or its magic’s inexorable draw.

Harvard/Veritas (The Siren and the Sword, by Cecelia Tan)
Kyle Wadsworth (descendant of poet William Wadsworth, and an American) is accepted into Harvard University. When he arrives on campus, he learns he will be actually taking classes at the secret Veritas college, school to the children of the fae, and magical users more generally. He is a student of magic with a hidden legacy, an orphan who was unaware of his magical lineage. Boarding school fantasies, as they deal with largely underage readerships and protagonists, tend to eschew a more explicit examination of the characters’ sexuality. Sex, then, is something that sets this and other college-aged fantasy apart; these are books about nascent adults working their way through that first rush of freedom. The Siren and the Sword, like many of the books on this list, details awakenings both magical and sexual.

 

What magical colleges have we left off the list?

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