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The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman

The Magicians: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Lev Grossman (Author)

Series: The Magicians (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,016582764 (3.46)1 / 437
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)
Title:The Magicians: A Novel
Authors:Lev Grossman (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2009), Edition: 1, 428 pages

Work details

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009)

Recently added byAkrebill, Arina40, nanoqueen, Manning1232, StwaberryJelly, Areces97, missycat, private library
Legacy LibrariesTim Spalding
  1. 201
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (middled, kraaivrouw, Euryale)
    Euryale: No magic, but I thought the tone and setting were otherwise very similar.
  2. 225
    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. 131
    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
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (sonyagreen)
    sonyagreen: It's like HP goes to college, complete with drinking and sex.
  5. 158
    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.
  6. 40
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  7. 40
    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?"
  8. 40
    The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones (Anonymous user)
  9. 41
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  10. 85
    Harry Potter: The Complete Collection (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.
  11. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  12. 20
    Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Cecrow)
  13. 10
    The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (Jess1106)
  14. 10
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Scottneumann)
  15. 10
    The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish (charlie68)
  16. 10
    A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: Teenagers suddenly plunged into the magical-boarding-school experience and, once their training is behind them, having to figure out who is trustworthy, what they need to do with their lives, whether they are being summoned into leadership roles, and maybe - just maybe - where their reality is coming from in the first place.… (more)
  17. 10
    Vita Nostra by Sergey Dyachenko (KatyBee)
  18. 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.
  19. 10
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes.
  20. 21
    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)

(see all 33 recommendations)


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» See also 437 mentions

English (579)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (582)
Showing 1-5 of 579 (next | show all)

I used to have a most hated character in all of literature and that was Holden Caulfield. That title has now been taken by Quentin Coldwater. The problems with this book go past the fact that Quentin is the only character in the first 100 pages that is given any development or agency. While that is a problem that is not the sole problem with this book. I take great issue with the misogynistic tone the author takes with his female characters. Going as far to call one's sweat "unladylike". Oh for shock that women sweat!!! Also I have no problem with the magical elements to this world but the fact that the entire cast is EXPLICITLY white bothers me. Finally the redeeming factor of Holden Caulfield is that on a basic level he knows that his actions are "wrong" by societal standards. He simply wishes to play a different game by different rules. However when Coldwater is knocked unconscious and is happy that he gets to look at Alice he is happy that his needs are met without any thought to anyone else around him. There my be a redeeming scene later but I refuse to read 400 pages of post-pubescent nerd boy jerk off material about another white savior. ( )
  jerame2999 | Nov 14, 2020 |
This was an audio book and it's the first in the trilogy -- I thought it was the entire trilogy, it seemed to go on so long. It's Harry Potter for the late high school/college set complete with sex, drinking, drugs and all the existential angst and malaise that accompanies early adulthood. Quentin, James and Julia are high school seniors at a NYC school -- intent upon good colleges and a bright future. When Quentin and James show up at an alumnus' apartment for an interview to Princeton, they find the interviewee dead. There is a packet for each of them that a mysterious paramedic hand out when they leave. Quentin Coldwater opens his, James doesn't and Quentin finds materials that lead/transport him surreptitiously and unknowingly to a hidden school for magic (Brakebills Academy) in upstate New York. After a bizarre and grueling entrance exam, during which Quentin thinks he glimpses Julia,(and reminiscent of the Mysterious Benedict Society) he is offered a position there. His parents are fobbed off with some lie (bewitched?) and his real school and no one in it seems to find it strange that he has started college early at some unknown school in some distant place. Technicalities. Quentin himself finds all of it strange, but is able to go along with it due to a predisposition to magic: he taught himself tricks thru jr. high and high school to alleviate boredom and social insecurity and he has long been obsessed with a book series about a magical land of Fillory (reminiscent of Narnia). So Quentin begins his college education at Brakebills and learns various spells and skills and undergoes various challenges and tests, -- including a flight as a goose to Antarctica, and a trek across it, using nothing but magic (and mutton fat) to survive. He meets and falls in love with Alice and becomes frenemies with Penny a punk misfit, and friends with Eliot, a gay aesthete, Josh, the lunkhead of the group, and Janice, an attractive but brash socialite. As a group, they graduate, enter the real world and have nothing to do -- because unlike Harry Potter there is no great evil to fight, no purpose to their magic. A year or so after graduation, the group is living a debauched life in NYC, set up with a trust fund from the Academy, but not really doing anything with their lives, when Penny discovers a way into Fillory, thereby confirming the reality of fiction. The group enters the magical land (where 4 humans must sit on the throne -- sound familiar?) and wreaks havoc both with the social order of things there -- they unwittingly summon the Beast and battle epic-style but suffer great loss too. Too much hubris going in. While I appreciate the ability to imagine new worlds and create a whole magical language and history and pecking order, this was lacking the joy, wonder, and well, magic of such creation. "You can live out your dreams, but it'll only turn you into a monster." is Quentin's conclusion. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
This book was fast-paced and readable, with some moments of great suspense, but the characters were utterly unsympathetic. The plot was *almost* original enough to overcome how unoriginal every concept of the story really was, and if I'd cared even a tiny bit about any of the jerks in the story I probably would have enjoyed it. I found it really hard to swallow this school of magic (liberal arts college of magic?) with no safety measures whatsoever. And if you love someone, you should probably go and talk to them when you are having trouble. Don't seek revenge on them, get violent, and then expect me to feel sorry when it doesn't work out. ( )
  klnbennett | Oct 7, 2020 |
Disclaimer: I watched the TV show first

The characterization of the characters is so good. I can't believe their total drama, but people are like that.
Wow. I don't even. Julia is understated in the books, I'm not entirely certain I like that. She plays a bigger role in the TV series, or feels like she does, and while there is a definite difference in how some specific scenes end up between the two, they both stand as their own thing. The first book and season are pretty close.

The world-building is great, and the magic is awesome and let me tell you, it is FANTASTIC!! All the way through! ( )
  m_mozeleski | Aug 22, 2020 |
This was an interesting book, and I will have to think about it to form an opinion. It is told from the perspective of the least interesting character: Quentin. A spoiled, privileged Brooklyn boy who gets everything he wants without really trying, and is never satisfied. I would love to read this story from the perspective of Janet, Alice, or Josh. However, the fact that Quentin is such an obnoxious person means that the story doesn't warp around him. The world is intricate and fascinating, and several other characters struggle with the same kind of privileged ennui as Quentin. I think this book would bear a second read. ( )
  Rachel_Hultz | Aug 15, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 579 (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 editionscalculated
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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

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