There are some genre tropes that are ubiquitous in fantasy, from the ensemble quest to overthrowing a dark lord. Magical schools are yet another trope we have come to know and love. Whether you are a fan of early narratives like Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea or appreciate the darker elements of more contemporary entries such as The Magicians or Ninth House, there’s no denying the popularity of this particular fantasy sub-genre.

In a departure from her previous novels, Naomi Novik’s new book, A Deadly Education, is set in a magical school. So, we were excited to talk to Naomi about her take on this fantasy trope. From chosen ones to antagonists as protagonists, this was a really fun discussion!

Please note that given the subject matter, we reference Harry Potter a lot in the course of this episode. We want to highlight that we do not support JK Rowling’s anti-trans position, but acknowledge that the series has made a huge impact on the magical school trope.

Texts mentioned in this episode include:

  • Harry Potter
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark
  • The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Naomi Novik is the acclaimed New York Times-bestselling author of the Nebula Award-winning novel UprootedSpinning Silver, and the nine-volume Temeraire series, as well as a founder of the Archive of Our Own. Her upcoming book A Deadly Education is the first of the Scholomance trilogy, and will be available September 2020.