I stood confused through the end of the book "The Magicians", especially in trying to figure out what happened to Alice. What I understood that occurred is as follows:

Alice transformed into something like an Angel, which allowed her to destroy the Beast near the end of the book. Quentin says as she is casting the spell "a moment later, he realized the spell wasn't the point. The side effects were the point." Afterwards, she does exactly what she intended to do.

The rest of the book, however, the story seems somewhat different, namely that:

Alice died, and that's all Quentin can think about.

Somehow, the two version's aren't quite reconciling in my mind, and I was wondering if anyone might be able to explain it a bit better to me.

  • 2
    Good question...I'd wondered this myself.
    – erik
    Oct 18, 2011 at 15:24
  • Just because Quentin understands what happened doesn't mean that he's happy with it. It may help if you read the rest of the series.
    – Raj
    Feb 26, 2019 at 16:13

1 Answer 1



Alice was transformed into a niffin by a purposefully miscast spell, as described earlier in the book (same thing happened to her brother years earlier.) Basically she is taken over by the uncontrolled magic, giving her immense power but consuming her body in the process. She is not exactly dead, but certainly no longer human, and from Quentin and the other's point of view she would probably be better off having died.

  • I kind of have to ask... What is a niffen?
    – TGnat
    Sep 16, 2011 at 16:27
  • 4
    @TGnat As far as I know it's simply the word Grossman chose to describe the thing resulting from events like the one described above. Also I misspelled it, correct version is 'niffin'. Apparently this is know to TVTropes as a 'Deadly Upgrade'. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeadlyUpgrade
    – so12311
    Sep 16, 2011 at 16:31
  • Ahh, that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification! Sep 16, 2011 at 18:12

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