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The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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The Magicians (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Lev Grossman

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6,134495668 (3.45)1 / 417
Member:wookiebender
Title:The Magicians
Authors:Lev Grossman
Info:William Heinemann (2009), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant 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 Philosopher's Stone 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 by Kristi Charish (charlie68)

(see all 31 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 493 (next | show all)
This was a pretty good read through most of the book, but had its weaknesses. For one most of the characters, including the main protagonist, were not very likable. Quentin comes off as moody and impossible to please. Despite having one dream after another come true, he is never happy. By about the middle of the book, where he finally graduates from Brakebills College, he is very jaded. The story of Fillory obviously owes a huge debt to Narnia. I did enjoy reading this book, but thought it was a bit depressing for a story that should have been more "magical". ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
Great... now I have to get the second and third books! Augh. ( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
“BURN THIS” wrote Lev Grossman on the inside cover of my book. Lev was surprised to see a copy of his first novel ‘WARP’ showing up a book reading for ‘The Magicians’. He stated that most of the remaining copies are being used to hold up his broken couch at home. A humorous idea and I wonder how many new authors end up with excess copies of their first printings lying about.

Unfortunately, I think I threw him off his game a bit, and feeling bad, I did not stick around to ask him any questions. Instead, I will ask them psychically, or maybe via email :)

‘The Magicians’ will not end up holding a couch off the hardwood floor of his living room. It was a phenomenal book.

In Magicians, magic exists. Schools for magic exist. Students go to these schools and learn a very large amount of very dull information. There is no evil villain ala Rowlings/HP universe.. Only a life assisted by magic, or a life in a cubicle with the rest of us non-magic schmucks.

Quentin Coldwater lives in one fo the boroughs of NYC. He is a geek, top of his class, not used to brilliance that outshines his own. He is no virgin, but likely this could be due to technicalities. Quentin is focusing on getting into an Ivy League college… Little else matters, including the fact that he has absolutely no idea what to do with his life. He is very easy to relate to, angsty, but relate-able.

This novel is perfect for anyone who loved reading CS Lewis as a child. It is perfect for those who wish HP and friends would grow a backbone and drop an F-bomb when they get angry or forget some homework. Drinking, drugs, praying to the porcelain god, sex, mind numbing classrooms, confused normal humans, even a throwback scene near the end that reminded me of the ridiculousness of the movie ‘The Craft’ (floating windblown witches)… This book has just about everything in it.

It shares just a bit of the same essence as Peter Jackson’s ‘Meet the Feebles’ had for muppets. Just a bit…

The Magicians touches quite boldly on the pulse of the magic community. People may be able to snap their fingers and light a cigarette from a finger tip flame, or accidentally call a black hole into existence, but in the end, self-esteem cannot be given to a person. Though I have to admit a bit of money, success, sex and a lot of luck could set someones self esteem in a spot where growth will be hands off to a certain degree. Ultimately though, it has to come from with in.
( )
  JasonBrownPDX | Jun 12, 2017 |
Il Mago di Lev Grossman è il classico libro che finisce inevitabilmente per spaccare i lettori in due gruppi, può essere giudicato un capolavoro (e di conseguenza Grossman venire etichettato come un “genio”) oppure come un inutile ammasso di carta.
I gusti del lettore e la conoscenza del mondo fantasy sono i metri di giudizio su cui verte la sentenza, quindi è ovvio che il risultato non potrà mai essere univoco.
Personalmente reputo “Il Mago” un libro pessimo, che nulla racconta e, piuttosto illogico nel 90% dei casi. Il che potrebbe semplicemente significare che non sono adatta a questi romanzi “futuristi” (dal punto di vista narrativo e stilistico) che narrano concetti, vicende assurde e illogiche aspettandosi che i lettori le assimilino come dati di fatto.
Che sia fantasy o meno, ogni universo deve avere delle regole per evitare il caos, elemento assolutamente vitale in un mondo in cui esiste la magia.
Qualunque sia il motivo, però, il mio personale giudizio è sempre negativo, sotto tutti i punti di vista.
Addirittura qualcuno ha avuto l’ardire di scrivere, in quarta copertina, “Il nuovo Harry Potter degli adulti”. La mia reazione ovvia e automatica di fronte a questo nefandezza è scuotere la testa inorriditi e sgranare lo sguardo rimanendo allibiti.
Purtroppo, però, questa frasetta tendenziosa il suo compito lo esegue perfettamente, infatti, forse anche per questo il romanzo vende!
Ma veniamo alla trama. Abbiamo il piacere di incontrare un ragazzo, che potremmo tranquillamente definire emo, di nome Quentin. Questo ragazzo, Quentin, sempre perennemente insoddisfatto del mondo e della sua vita, finisce per caso, all’età di 17 anni, in un luogo assurdo dove viene sottoposto ad un esame altrettanto assurdo e privo di logica per accedere ad una scuola di cui non sa nulla e di cui nessuno dei partecipanti sa nulla. Un tantino inquietante, no? Inspiegabilmente, seguendo chissà quale logica, gli esaminati si siedono e fanno questo test per accedere ad un luogo che non conosco e di cui nessuno vuole dirgli nulla.
Quentin è un ragazzo particolare, altrimenti detto un “genio”, che a 17 anni ha già dato alcuni esami universitari di matematica avanzata, il classico superdotato (non fisicamente!) che lo rende automaticamente superiore al resto dei poveri mortali che lo circondano, con i quali, ovviamente, non si immischia. Un ragazzo snob che si nasconde dietro ad un patina di autocommiserazione (molto in stile “nessuno mi comprende”), che lo fa apparire come una vittima delle circostanze e del resto del mondo. In realtà è un personaggio che suscita solo insofferenza con il suo egoismo, vittimismo, egocentrismo e perenne insoddisfazione. Lo si sopporta così poco che, quando finalmente uno dei co-protagonisti lo prende a ceffoni urlandogli contro tutto quello che abbiamo sempre pensato, non possiamo che sogghignare soddisfatti.
In definitiva, Quentin dovrebbe essere il protagonista, o meglio l’eroe, del romanzo, ma non sappiamo “perché”. Cosa dovrebbe rendere lui e non Alice, ad esempio, protagonista di questo libro? Cosa ci narra, trasmette, regala o getta addosso più degli altri co-protagonisti? Le sue turbe mentali, oltretutto immotivate? Ancora non l’ho compreso.
Appurato che il protagonista è indigesto quando un masso da 50kg, passiamo oltre.
La trama del romanzo è semplicemente assurda, priva di logica temporale e noiosa fino allo sfinimento. Abbiamo un romanzo di 500 pagine e per le prime 300 non succede nulla, nulla e ripeto nulla. Non si capisce nemmeno qual è lo scopo stesso del romanzo che, in questi casi, deve sempre avere una cavolo di missione o mistero da risolvere.
Invece di troviamo a dover leggere di un branco di ragazzi di 17 anni che tra scopate, risse, rutti e volgarità dovrebbero intrattenerci duranti i lungi (aaaargh!) cinque anni universitari di questa fantomatica scuola di magia che, di magico, non ha letteralmente una ceppa.
Vengono citati incantesimi e meccanismi magici che non hanno senso, logica e niente altro. Una scuola di magia, non dico tanto ma vuoi far volare una penna in mano ad un allievo? Un professore apparire dal nulla? Nulla. Cinque anni di scuola, fra un esame e l’altro viene narrato con svariati riferimenti a Harry Potter che, nella mia mente, hanno classificato questo romanzo come un plagio nevrastenico di una delle saghe fantasy più belle, complesse e particolareggiate dell’intero mondo fantasy contemporaneo.
Il nuovo Harry Potter un accidenti! Per favore non insultiamo!
Come se non bastasse per tutto il romanzo dobbiamo sorbirci continuamente i ricordi/racconti dei protagonisti in riferimento ad una saga fantasy, da loro particolarmente famosa e bella, che in realtà altro non è che un rimaneggiamento di Narnia. Ma ci stanno prendendo per i fondelli? A quanto pare sì.
Leggiamo, leggiamo e leggiamo in attesa di una svolta, di qualunque cosa che interrompa l’autocommiserazione di Quentin, ma arrivati a pagina 300 le nostre speranza sembrano destinate a naufragare miseramente. Soprattutto dopo che Quentin viene invitato a casa della fidanzata, Alice, e scopriamo che i maghi adulti sono tutti una manica di scoppiati di testa che non son in grado di gestire il potere – che apparentemente gli permette di avere tutto – e finiscono per impazzire, letteralmente dietro ai propri fallimenti. Quindi, comprendiamo, Quentin non è un fallimento della società, è solamente un ragazzo un po’ precoce, tanto alla fine tutti completamente scoppiati diventano, non c’è scampo.
Valori, in questo romanzo non ci sono, non cercateli. La logica neanche, ma ormai credo di averlo già detto un paio di volte.
Finalmente questi ragazzi finiscono la scuola e vengono sbattuti nella vita di tutti i giorni. Cosa succede? Cominciano ad autodistruggersi, ovviamente e, oserei dire, come previsto. Vengono citate delle “regole e leggi” e perfino una società di maghi ma qua, nel libro, non se ne è mai parlato. Cosa possono fare dei maghi adulti? Che lavori sono disponibili per questi ipercervelloni che, usando tutto il loro intelletto, sono in grado di attingere alla magia? Nessuno ce lo dice, nessuno lo sa. Amen.
Dopo altre 100 pagine di autodistruzione arriva un personaggio che tutti avevamo praticamente dimenticato e ci dice che l’accesso al mondo fantastico di Fillory (mondo fantastico da leggere anche come “Narnia”, con il quale ci hanno ammorbati per 400 pagine) esiste. Evviva! Allora questo libro ce l’ha!
Sì e no. Le speranze che portano a terminare il libro in fretta sono presto deluse. In effetti abbiamo un viaggio in un altro mondo, un nemico da uccidere, qualche co-protagonista che ci lascia le penne, quattro troni da occupare e l’equivalente narniano del leone Aslan ci stordisce con qualche frase da Dio onnipotente. Nel giro di 100 pagine, torno a precisarlo.
E un finale che avrebbe potuto regalare quasi un punto all’intero romanzo, visto che poteva trasmettere, forse, l’unico messaggio vagamente logico nell’arco di 500 pagine. Evidentemente, però, l’autore era deciso a sprofondare nell’inutilità più assoluta e ha buttato giù le ultime 20 righe che hanno, di nuovo, rovinato tutto.
Soldi buttati via, ma quanti soldi buttati via!

( )
  Nasreen44 | Jun 8, 2017 |
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. ( )
3 vote Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 493 (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.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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)

» see all 7 descriptions

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