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The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians (2009)

by Lev Grossman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Magicians (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,779472733 (3.46)1 / 401
  1. 171
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (middled, kraaivrouw, Euryale)
    Euryale: No magic, but I thought the tone and setting were otherwise very similar.
  2. 205
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Jannes)
    Jannes: The Magicians wolud not exist if it wasn't for the Narnia books, and is really a kind of loving deconstruction of Lewis' work. What could be better than giving the books that inspired it a try?
  3. 121
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (catfantastic)
    catfantastic: Read the short story "The Problem of Susan" included in this collection.
  4. 157
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Magic is real in a world we recognize--Napoleonic England and contemporary New York.
  5. 147
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (sonyagreen)
    sonyagreen: It's like HP goes to college, complete with drinking and sex.
  6. 40
    The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume I by Diana Wynne Jones (Anonymous user)
  7. 75
    Harry Potter Box Set (Books 1-7) by J. K. Rowling (elleeldritch)
    elleeldritch: An adult version of Harry Potter (and Narnia), albeit with a different (but still interesting) magic scheme.
  8. 31
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  9. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  10. 20
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  11. 10
    Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema (ShelfMonkey)
  12. 21
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (lobotomy42)
    lobotomy42: Similar combination of a genre setting, an unlikeable protagonist, and an inward-looking plot.
  13. 65
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) by J. K. Rowling (kaledrina)
    kaledrina: Older YAs and above. Really for late teens and adults. Potter meets Narnia meet sex drugs and rock n roll.
  14. 10
    The Silver Nutmeg: The Story of Anna Lavinia and Toby by Palmer Brown (tetrachromat)
    tetrachromat: Both describe the reflections of certain pools of water as windows onto other realities. The Silver Nutmeg, however, is much less dark and aimed at younger readers.
  15. 10
    The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (BeckyJG)
  16. 10
    The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott (Jess1106)
  17. 10
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Scottneumann)
  18. 10
    The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (TFleet)
    TFleet: Both novels are centered in the modern real world, but with a set of young adults who have magical powers. The novels are different takes on the question, "What would the modern real world be like if there were magic?"
  19. 10
    The Once and Future King by T. H. White (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: I thought of making this recommendation when reading the magical education section of The Magicians, which reminded me of the first book of The Once and Future King. But the wider idea - that magical powers can't stop us from making stupid human mistakes - is also relevant to both books.… (more)
  20. 00
    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (aethercowboy)
    aethercowboy: Both books deal with a fictional fantasy series that holds a lot of significance to the story.

(see all 29 recommendations)


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English (468)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (470)
Showing 1-5 of 468 (next | show all)
3.5 rounded up. I took some time to think about how I wanted to rate it. In the beginning, I was really annoyed with Quentin and I feel like the author fast-forwarded a lot of character and world building. I did end up liking the dark turn it took. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
Won't bother to check it out. Bookshelves of Doom's review has put me off. I don't want to read a book with such an annoying protagonist. Particularly a coming-of-age in which the dude won't grow up.


But then Stephen thought it was great. Alright, back on the list.


I received the set as a Christmas present last year (2014) and decided to finally tackle them. Grossman loves books, and there are a lot of book jokes and asides and allusions. That is wonderful. Truly delightful, causing me moments of glee.

But the main character Quentin is a dick. He is entitled and insufferable and I don't understand how it is possible that he has any friends. Let alone a girlfriend. It is impossible for me to image that he will do anything other than go rampaging through multiple universes screwing them all to hell and gone, because the guy cannot see farther than the end of his penis. Because it is fantasy there is, I suppose, a possibility that the series will end with the women of multiple worlds beating him to death, and therefor I had to stop reading, because it might *not* end with his painful and humiliating death, and I can't bear to give up that idea.
  Kaethe | Oct 16, 2016 |
This book is Harry Potter, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and The Once and Future King meeting cynicism, grit, sexuality, violent, vivid brutality, and the flaws of humanity. This wasn't as magical or as fantastical as the three classics I mentioned because it focused on the human emotions of the protagonist. I love the premise of (anti)hero Quentin getting what he wants, and learning that it's not at all what he thought, that it's much more complex, that it's something he may, in fact, not want at all. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. ( )
  EllAreBee | Sep 19, 2016 |
I have no idea what I just finished reading... Or what the point of finishing it was. Wow... ( )
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
"... it's like he's opening the covers of a book, but a book that did what books always promise to do and never actually quite did: get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better."

If you're expecting The Magicians to be that kind of book, you'll end up deeply disappointed, and possibly borderline depressed. I rarely rate a book 1 star; nowadays, I'll go the DNF route rather than subject myself to the pure torture that was my reading experience with this book, but I kept hoping ... ugh, I'm exhausted simply recalling how much I loathed Quentin and Julia and Janet -- pretty much every character. How spoiled and snobby and selfish they all were. Alice and Penny were the only two I could even, maybe, if I looked from just the right angle, tolerate. Anyway, wasn't the book for me.

1 star ( )
1 vote flying_monkeys | Sep 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 468 (next | show all)
”Magikerna” marknadsförs som ”Harry Potter för vuxna”, men i själva verket är det en ovanligt vacker sorgesång över hur det är att lämna barndomen. Det var faktiskt bättre förr, när man kunde uppslukas helt av leken.
added by Jannes | editDagens nyheter, Lotta Olsson (Feb 4, 2013)
This isn't just an exercise in exploring what we love about fantasy and the lies we tell ourselves about it -- it's a shit-kicking, gripping, tightly plotted novel that makes you want to take the afternoon off work to finish it.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Oct 20, 2009)
It’s the original magic — storytelling — that occasionally trips Grossman up. Though the plot turns new tricks by the chapter, the characters have a fixed, “Not Another Teen Movie” quality. There’s the punk, the aesthete, the party girl, the fat slacker, the soon-to-be-hot nerd, the shy, angry, yet inexplicably irresistible narrator. Believable characters form the foundation for flights of fantasy. Before Grossman can make us care about, say, the multiverse, we need to intuit more about Quentin’s interior universe.
Somewhat familiar, albeit entertaining... Grossman's writing is intelligent, but don't give this one to the kids—it's a dark tale that suggests our childhood fantasies are no fun after all.
added by Shortride | editPeople, Sue Corbett (Aug 31, 2009)
Grossman has written both an adult coming-of-age tale—rife with vivid scenes of sex, drugs, and heartbreak—and a whimsical yarn about forest creatures. The subjects aren’t mutually exclusive, and yet when stirred together so haphazardly, the effect is jarring. More damaging still is the plot, which takes about 150 pages to gain any steam, surges dramatically in the book’s final third, and then peters out with a couple chapters left to go.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Michael Shaer (Aug 14, 2009)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lev Grossmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book.

--William Shakespeare, The Tempest
For Lily
First words
Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.
That guy was a mystery wrapped in an enigma and crudely stapled to a ticking fucking time bomb. He was either going to hit somebody or start a blog.
Space was full of angry little particles.
He had no interest in TV anymore - it looked like an electronic puppet show to him, an artificial version of an imitation world that meant nothing to him anyway. Real life - or was it a fantasy life? whichever one Brakebills was - that was what mattered, and that was happening somewhere else.
No one would come right out and say it, but the worldwide magical ecology was suffering from a serious imbalance: too many magicians, not enough monsters.
"Never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink," he said. "Though I guess that presupposes that there is a wine I wouldn't drink."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0670020559, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: Mixing the magic of beloved children's fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman's Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grownups. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he’s admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom--which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected. The Magicians breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know--if the people you want to know are charismatic, brilliant, complex, flawed magicians--and does what Quentin claims books never really manage to do: "get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better. " Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting. --Mari Malcolm

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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Average: (3.46)
0.5 14
1 85
1.5 18
2 230
2.5 59
3 512
3.5 177
4 646
4.5 74
5 306


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