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The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman
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The Magicians: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Lev Grossman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,081491679 (3.45)1 / 415
Member:rebhodson
Title:The Magicians: A Novel
Authors:Lev Grossman
Info:Plume (2009), Edition: 1, Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:fantasy, modernist, dark

Work details

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009)

  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. 215
    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: A Novel 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. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  8. 20
    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?"
  9. 31
    The Book of Lost Things: A Novel by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  10. 20
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  11. 20
    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)
  12. 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.
  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. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 10
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Scottneumann)
  17. 10
    Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema (ShelfMonkey)
  18. 10
    The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (BeckyJG)
  19. 10
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes.
  20. 10
    The Voodoo Killings: A Kincaid Strange Novel by Kristi Charish (charlie68)

(see all 31 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 489 (next | show all)
This came recommended as a supposed "grown up Harry Potter". I'll submit "hardly"...actually not even close to "hardly". The inter-student exchanges are quite juvenile, the plot following an established formula as interpreted by Grossman, and in short, The Magicians isn't all that imaginative or original. Grossman does not, at least in this novel, have the talent of Rowling (and he's not above smarmy nods to her ... "time turner"; "send me an owl"...) Add in the irritating style issues that grate... "He got up and padded over to a window." "padded"?? Who talks like that, much less writes like that? Nobody talks like that, so why write it? I ask because Grossman seems to want to write as if he's narrating a casual conversation. And then there is: "Most boys like to choose their own ties."
"Boys"?? Is this college in the 1930s?

Of course, the sex elements do push the book into the "grown up" realm, and they seem to be included solely to do that. But this book is actually just a poorly written story about 14 year old boys (even the women talk/think/act like 14 year old boys) who drink and swear a lot. And in what universe would a 22 year old refer to himself as a "grown up"? Grossman is so inconsistent that it makes for burdensome tortuous reading.

I set this aside for quite a while, finally pushed to the end of "Book 1" and thought to myself, jeez...there's more?? Don't mistake my generous two stars...this is really awful stuff. ( )
2 vote Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Very creative, but too long IMO. I listened to this and the narrator was wonderful. I'm not sure if The Magician King is the next book in this series. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Loved loved loved this book! I read it in a day- I couldn't put it down! A coworker recommended it to me so I wasn't sure at first. And I knew it was based off Narnia and Harry Potter and was preparing myself for a cringe-worthy read. Instead, it was a fast paced story packed with real and flawed characters. And magic. Lots of magic! I thought Grossman was flawless in not making it seem like he was stealing from Narnia or H.P. His characters and plot twists were very creative, regardless of what inspired him. I just bought the second book and was wondering what the chances are he'll have the third done by the weekend. I cannot wait to read more. ( )
1 vote leannn | Apr 23, 2017 |
DNF'ed about halfway through the book. I don't even know what I was expecting from another book about a boy who goes to a magic school. I mean, it's kind of already been made? Bur for the record, this book has absolutely NOTHING in common with Harry Potter, except for the fact that the main character is a boy. My biggest problem with The Magicians was that main character, Quentin. He constantly makes stupid decisions and is just an all-around unlikeable, slightly creepy guy. The scene when the students are transformed into foxes really disturbed me. It makes me feel like Quentin isn't too far from doing the same when he's in human form. 1/5, would not recommend. ( )
  brideofsevenless | Apr 18, 2017 |
I've been wary of reading THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman. I'd heard a lot of great things about the book, but I don't usually like fantasy stories where the protagonists are older teens/adults from our world who discover a fantasy world; it tends to dampen the sense of wonder and discovery that usually accompanies the exploration of a new world. However, the Lev Grossman's short story set in the Magicians universe in Shawn Speakman's Unfettered anthology persuaded me to finally buy myself a copy, and I'm glad I did!

I've heard THE MAGICIANS described as Harry Potter meets Narnia, and that's not a bad description. We follow Quentin, a fairly nerdy and very smart teenager who's obsessed with the Narnia-like magical land of Fillory. He's close to graduating from high school when he has a "you're a wizard, Harry!" moment and gets the opportunity to go to a magical college and soon has more exciting things to worry about than Fillory. But Fillory is not as imaginary as Quentin thinks...

I enjoyed this book tremendously because it works excellently in two very different genres - high fantasy, and contemporary coming of age. Fantasy often comes with a coming of age story, but it's generally of the type where the protagonist needs to accept his destiny and become the hero he was meant to be. The Magicians has none of this - most of it is the story of Quentin growing up, making real friends, realising the unimportance of high school priorities, coping with the real world after college... all very familiar. Magic is almost secondary until the last quarter of the book where they find Fillory. And even then, Quentin and his friends act exactly how you'd expect regular twenty somethings to act, but Grossman spins it into a great fantasy story, managing to make the same situations both mesmerisingly wondrous and infuriatingly realistic.

On the surface, this seems like a ridiculous book. The protagonist is generally unlikeable, the settings are very similar to books you've probably read, and nothing really happens for more than half of the book. Don't be scared, though, because all of this enables Lev Grossman to tell an entirely new type of fantasy story that's very much grounded in reality. Read it! ( )
1 vote kgodey | Apr 11, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 489 (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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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For Lily
First words
Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.
Quotations
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."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary

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)

(summary from another edition)

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