The Magicians

A Novel

Grossman, Lev

Book - 2009
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Magicians
As a senior in high school Quentin Coldwater became preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. After graduating from college and being admitted into a highly exclusive, secret society of magic in upstate New York, he makes a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin's fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined for his childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2009.
ISBN: 0670020559
Characteristics: 402 p. ;,25 cm.


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Feb 04, 2015
  • bibliotechnocrat rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

A combination of Narnia and Hogwarts as a setting, with a college-age set of characters - what's not to love? Well, lots actually. The book has a big compelling beginning, but then wades through page after angsty page of pointless adolescent floundering. It doesn't help that the protagonist and his friends are not particularly likeable, don't like themselves, and don't seem to like each other. I nearly abandoned the story around page 300 (this edition has 402 pages) thinking that there really was no point after all, that it was all just a circular exercise in writing skill. But then, in the last 75 pages, big finish. Of course, finding your way, finding meaning, finding out how to like yourself are important milestones in transitioning to adulthood - and the book finally does kind of get there. But for my taste, far too much time was spent wallowing in the purposeless muck.

Jan 27, 2015
  • akimya rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book reminds me of an adult-version Harry Potter, except a bit more dark and dreary at the start. I am still in the process of reading it, but I highly recommend it! At a quarter of the way through, it is one of those books that keeps me awake and is hard to put down!

Dec 20, 2014
  • nrmansfield rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

great read

Dec 17, 2014
  • rachaelcollins rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Lev Grossman has created an intriguing book about young adulthood and disillusionment. The entire series is spectacular. It is all at once depressing, dark, brooding, and laugh-out-loud funny.

Recommended for those literary fiction lovers who want to dip a toe into the realm of fantasy.

Dec 02, 2014

Quentin grows up dreaming of magic-wielding heroes and his favorite fantasy land, Fillory (the subject of a five-book series he read countless times). (Un)fortunately for him, it turns out magic is real and he's recruited into a magical school (Hogwarts+Cruel Intentions) where magic is a tiresome and difficult subject. Not quite what Quentin had always dreamed of...and also somehow not enough to make him happy, like he'd imagined magic would. For our Quentin, like most humans, the grass is always greener, even when you get your heart's desire.

The resilient desire to imagine and then seek happiness above and beyond what is attained, the strange habit of self-sabotage, and the unbearable mundanity of life make this fantasy novel a bitter pill. And just like for Quentin, for the reader, there is no end to the relentless grind.

In setting out to disillusion both his readers and his main characters of their magical fantasies, Grossman creates an entirely unlikable protagonist. I love unreliable narrators but this was something more, or something less. I got no joy from this story (and I wholeheartedly believe you can get joy from bitter, dark stories. But not this one, for me), and I doubt I'll pick up the next in the series.

Nov 21, 2014
  • Chapel_Hill_StephenA rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Pretty much everyone I know loves this grown up Harry Potter companion to pieces. My feelings are a little more mixed. Grossman has built an unforgettable world in Fillory and Brakebills and created imagery that will stick with me for a while. However, I didn't particularly like Quentin and there's a lot of "stuff happening" but it never felt like a totally cohesive plot. Ultimately, though, I was so enamored with this world and the slight cliffhanger ending featuring an unexpected character that I do plan on reading the sequels. Definitely give this one a try, but it may not be for everyone.

Oct 19, 2014
  • JLMason rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I think that the author deliberately set out to shatter the fantasy of the fantasy world. The idea that having everything you ever dreamed of, e.g. magical ability and living in a land of childhood fantasy, will make you happy is all a delusion. The characters in this book have been given everything they could desire, yet they are all unhappy, shallow, self-centred, and immature, wasting their abilities getting wasted and childishly hurting each other. That said, the cleverness of the story line, which moves along smartly, and the inventiveness and detail of the imagined worlds are stunning. The passages describing the "goose" and "fox" experiences stand out for the beauty of the language and capturing the essence of what it might be like to be another species. On to volume two!

Sep 24, 2014
  • mvkramer rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A friend said of this book "you will like it, then love it, then hate it" - and boy is that true. Hogwarts meets Narnia meets decadent postmodernist ennui. It's a fantasy series for bitter, cynical grown-ups and I loved/hated every minute of it. It is magical and painful. Read it!

Sep 17, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

If you've ever wished Narnia and Hogwarts were real, this book could change your mind. Quentin Coldwater is a brilliant, but typically angsty insecure teenager, already bored with life and uncertain about the future. When he is accepted into Brakebills College, a kind of Harvard of magic, he thinks happiness is within his grasp until he learns that studying magic is as hard as studying anything else, and thoughtless actions can still lead to tragic consequences. It seems that growing up is hard to do, even if you're a magician

Aug 30, 2014
  • katiecameron213 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Agree with most of the comments. The main character is a whiny, cowardly jackass, so it's hard to get through the book without wanting to punch the character in the face.

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Apr 06, 2011
  • beckylunatic rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

The truth doesn't always make a good story, does it? But I think I tied up most of the loose threads. I'm sure you can fill in the rest, if you really think about it.

Dec 20, 2010
  • andreareads rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Nobody wanted to admit they were frightened, so they took the only other option, which was to be irritable instead.

Aug 12, 2010
  • ndp21f rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

He wasn’t sure they were friends, exactly, but she was unfolding a little. He felt like a safecracker who—partly by luck—had sussed out the first digit in a lengthy, arduous combination.


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