is a 2005 work of fantasy written by English author Angie Sage. The first book in the Septimus Heap
series, it concerns the origin story of its overarching protagonist, Septimus Heap. Believing that Septimus died at birth, his father Silas raises an orphan baby, Jenna, in his place. Silas and another wizard named Marcia later learn of a boy Jenna’s age who is being pursued by evil forces. In the course of defeating those forces, it’s revealed that the boy is Silas’s son, Septimus. The book is known for its use of fantasy, creative vocabulary, and character development, which render it an accessible coming-of-age story.
At the beginning of the novel, Silas Heap is walking home after a winter storm, anticipating the birth of his seventh son, Septimus. With his extrasensory powers, he hears a heartbeat in the snow and uncovers an abandoned baby girl with violet irises. Confident that he can take in another child, he decides to bring her home. Before he reaches his house, Marcia Overstrand, the ExtraOrdinary Wizard who presides over the wizard community, intercepts him. She says that he must say silent about the baby he found, and raise her as if she was his biological daughter.
Just as Silas reaches home, the midwife frantically runs out of the building carrying a shape wrapped in cloth. She is upset because Septimus was stillborn. Silas and Sarah, his wife, decide to raise the baby Silas found as if she were the baby they expected. They name her Jenna. A few months later, Sarah’s friend Sally Mullin conveys news of the queen’s assassination. She says that the news is delayed because it was kept a secret for several months. Additionally, the queen’s newborn daughter was abducted near the time of the killing. Sarah realizes that the princess must be Jenna, but only tells Silas.
The story then shifts ten years into the future. On Jenna’s tenth birthday, she has a party with her parents and brothers. Marcia Overstrand arrives at the party and tells them that their next-door neighbor is a spy for the Supreme Custodian, the man who came into power after the queen’s murder. Marcia also reveals that the neighbor informed the Supreme Custodian of Jenna’s real identity, and urges them to come into hiding before an assassin arrives. Sarah explains this to Jenna, and Marcia takes Jenna to safety in the Wizard Tower.
With Jenna temporarily sheltered in the Wizard Tower, Marcia ventures out and comes upon a boy soldier from the Young Army submerged in a snow bank on the edge of death. His name is simply Boy 412, and Marcia takes him to safety in the Wizard Tower. Meanwhile, the assassin locates Jenna and journeys to the Wizard Tower to kill her. Warned of his approach by the ghost of Marcia’s mentor, Alther Mella, the trio escapes in time and ends up at Sally Mullin’s cafe. From there, they escape on a boat. The assassin reaches Sally’s cafe and burns it down when she refuses to divulge their location, but she is protected by a charm given by Marcia.
The group sails to the marshes and finds asylum at the home of Silas’s aunt, Zelda. They learn that the Supreme Custodian is a puppet for DomDaniel, a necromancer. In the coming weeks, they settle into the cottage. One day while on a walk, Boy 412 falls into an underground maze where he uncovers a ring shaped like a dragon. As Marcia teaches the group Magyk, he believes his proficiency is only illusory, due to the magic of the ring. Days later, Silas learns that his son, Simon, is missing, and returns home to find him. He disappears in transit, and the party receives a message ostensibly from Simon that Marcia must return to the Castle. She does so and is captured and imprisoned.
When spring arrives, the Hunter finds the cottage. He sends DomDaniel’s apprentice to pursue Boy 412 and Jenna, but they utilize the secret tunnel where he found the ring to get back to the house. There, they find that Zelda has trapped the Hunter in a spell. They erase his memories and capture the apprentice, who claims to be Septimus Heap. They are dubious of him, but he escapes before they can investigate further. Jenna and Boy 412 travel to find DomDaniel and save Marcia. They take control of a magical boat that can fly, and direct it toward the Vengeance
, where Marcia is imprisoned. As DomDaniel approaches the boat, Marcia happens to have just incapacitated her guards. She surprises him and takes the necklace that augments his powers, defeating him. The group returns to the cottage and fends off DomDaniel once more, who arrives disguised as his apprentice.
In the epilogue, the characters learn that the real apprentice is Boy 412, who was stolen at birth to be raised as an apprentice but was accidentally switched out by a midwife and sent to the army instead. Sarah Heap confirms this using a magical mirror that shows the face of her son. Boy 412, now reclaiming his name as Septimus, becomes Marcia’s apprentice. A story about familial loss, narrative uncertainty, and the reclaiming of names, the events of Magyk
suggest that order to any conditions can be restored through friendship and perseverance.