The Magicians: A Novel (Unabridged)
by Lev Grossman
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A thrilling and original coming-of- age novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world. Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation, he and his friends make 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. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart. At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren't black and white, love and sex aren't simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.
It is a misleading to compare this book (in any way) to the Harry Potter Series.
I bought this book to help me make a long trip after hearing the author's interview on NPR. I'm not sure how high my expectations were, but I love the genre, so even mediocre sci-fi/fantasy is entertaining. I was most pleasantly surprised. I found the Harry Potter series to be mostly inaccessible to me...the real world is so thoroughly purged from Potter that it becomes hard to relate (I know, I know...that's why they call it "Fantasy") but The Magicians fills those gaps. Here are real, college-age people, dealing with real social/physical/mental issues of that demographic, and also coping with the realization that they are to be magicians. I think the most compelling element of the plot is that there is no real, polarizing evil that necessitates the work of the magicians or their school. Most of the early drama is personal, normal, but amplified by the environment. When the story reaches its climax, you are so intimately familiarized with the characters and so emotionally invested in their success, corporately and individually, that the pages (so to speak) cannot turn fast enough. My only real regret is that I read this story so soon after its completion that I am now forced to wait for its sequel. Fantastic story, fantastically written...I would recommend this book to anyone.
Good but not GREAT
I have to admit that I got all excited by the implication that this book was comparable to the Harry Potter series (don't remember where I read it), but it doesn't pan out that way. I did enjoy the bulk of Part I where the main character becomes part of the magician's school world, but the book felt like it lost its footing once graduation took place...the ending was bizarre and sad and although not altogether unenjoyable, not really as satisfying as I was hoping for. I don't know. There's probably nothing that, once compared to HP, would ever quite satisfy in the same way. But in the end, a decent read. I did like the author's voice quite a bit.