Professor Sunderland first appeared when shown questioning Quentin Coldwater about the The Beast's attack, trying to get some useful information from him about the entity and the way in which he was able to access the school. Sunderland also questioned Kady about her knowledge of Battle Magic, a practice forbidden to Brakebills students since the dismissal of Professor Bigby. When she finished interviewing all the students present at Professor Van Der Weghe's lesson during the Beast's attack, Sunderland reassured the students of their safety within the school despite this single instance. She followed up by informing them that the world was only one of many filled with different entities, not all of which were benevolent, as showcased by The Beast, closing her statement by dismissing classes for the next day. Sunderland continued her investigation on the circumstances surrounding the attack, locating the spellbook that gave the Beast a foothold to get into Brakebills when had been buried by Penny. At that point, she separately interrogated Quentin, Alice, Kady and Penny in Dean Fogg's office, eventually finding out what they had done.
When the first year students had to be examined to establish their Disciplines, Sunderland examined Quentin, concluding that his Discipline was "Indeterminate," since he did not show an aptitude for any of them. When Penny was in trouble due to his manifesting Travelling abilities, Sunderland and Fogg went to collect him from India, with Sunderland later offering to help him with extra courses. Because of Penny's lack of interest in studying Astral Projection as suggested to him by Sunderland, he appeared out of thin air during one of Sunderland's Astronomy lessons. The two flirted briefly, but Sunderland refused Penny's advances.
When Penny, Alice, Quentin and Margo Hanson returned from Fillory, Dean Fogg informed Sunderland of the circumstances they were facing, concluding that they would need to shape them into proper Magicians, able to defend themselves when needed. Sunderland, initially unenthusiastic about the prospect, nevertheless helped them to decipher the right codes to find the information they needed about Battle Magic in the school library. Noticing Penny's difficulty in handling magic due to his injuries, Pearl offered to help him through a ritual. Once again, Penny began to suggest an intimate relationship between the two, but Sunderland turned down the advances, albeit reluctantly.
Professor Sunderland is a resolute, smart and attentive woman with a strange sense of humor and a preference for difficult cases as shown in her interest in helping Penny mastering his unusual powers.
Magic and Abilities
- Master Magician: Pearl Sunderland is a shrewd magician, with her possessing remarkable notions and knowledge over a variety of difficult magical fields and practices such as Astral Projection and rituals about Traveling and healing. As a respected member of the Brakebills University faculty, she has the knowledge and skill of a formidable magician, accumulating over the years to grant her the power of a Master Magician. As such, she retains great insight to the magical mishaps of students and is an examiner during the tests to assess First-year students' Disciplines. Sunderland is stated to have a Ph.D. in Hauntings, possessing great insight to the happenings of ghosts and the phenomenon surrounding them. Notably, she was able to inform Penny about the time slip phenomena that he later referenced at the Plover Estate in England.
- Experienced Educator & Administrator: As a Professor, Sunderland is entrusted with the safety of her students from external forces and internal mishaps attributed to young magicians. As such, she personally oversees the abilities of Brakebills' students in determining their Disciplines.
- Gifted Intellect: Sunderland is able to grasp the full comprehension of magical theory as taught at Brakebills. As is the standard for all Magicians, she possesses at least an Above Average level of intelligence that enables her to grasp the concept of magic and apply it in the physical world.
- Multilingual: Professor Sunderland, as well as every other Magician, is able to speak and read in a multitude of languages, as it is a basic requirement for spell casting.
- She's been seen flirting with Penny from time to time, an expanded look at their seemingly relaxed/casual relationship expressed in the series