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The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Lev Grossman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,4723751,094 (3.47)1 / 352
Title:The Magicians
Authors:Lev Grossman
Info:William Heinemann (2009), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009)

  1. 152
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (middled, kraaivrouw)
  2. 133
    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. 101
    Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (catfantastic)
    catfantastic: Read the short story "The Problem of Susan" included in this collection.
  4. 137
    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. 127
    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
    The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume I by Diana Wynne Jones (Anonymous user)
  7. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  8. 20
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  9. 20
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  10. 10
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Scottneumann)
  11. 10
    The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (BeckyJG)
  12. 10
    Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema (ShelfMonkey)
  13. 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.
  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. 65
    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.
  16. 65
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (marvas)
    marvas: A comparable mix of the fantastic and the all too real, proving fantasy can be an adult genre.
  17. 32
    Among Others by Jo Walton (Jannes)
    Jannes: Both are fantasy or fantasy-sih books about fantasy readers and how the stories you read hape you and affect your sense of the world.
  18. 22
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (vnovak)
  19. 11
    The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis (Anonymous user)
  20. 56
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer'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.

(see all 23 recommendations)


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English (373)  Swedish (1)  All languages (374)
Showing 1-5 of 373 (next | show all)
A must read for anyone with an investment in Narnia and all those who were disappointed, in the end, with Harry Potter. Brilliant. ( )
  lucypick | Sep 23, 2014 |
A truly interesting and (at least to me) unique story. This one deserves to be on any fantasy fans "to be read as soon as possible list". 5 stars and highly recommended. Can't wait to get the follow books in this series. ( )
  ConalO | Sep 21, 2014 |
Harry Potter meets Narnia meets Holden Caufield who is never happy about anything and ought to be wearing a fedora for the full effect. Really intriguing ideas but pacing and emphasis was weird and attitude towards women was gross. ( )
  GeorgiaIndeed | Sep 18, 2014 |
Lev Grossman’s The Magicians is a cross between Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, but it is not as good as these books. However, since I like both of these series, I found this book to be interesting. Even though this review may sound very negative, I still recommend reading the book and enjoying it despite its flaws.

I found the story to be entertaining and engaging, and it was a rather unpredictable fantasy novel. That is why I liked the book as much as I did. Even though it has a few similarities to the aforementioned books, there were still some aspects that were original and kept me reading. I also liked that in this book magic is actually hard to do and has its consequences. You have to be a genius (to start off with) and then take a series of special tests just to get into the college.

One thing I didn’t like about the plot was that it felt a little rushed. The characters spent five years at their college of magic and it was over half way through the book. There wasn’t much detail about the inside of the school or the classes they had to take, and too much detail about all the sex and drinking that was going on. It was pretty much just a brief overview of the college of magic and what the characters have to go through to graduate. Then, the rest of the book is everything that happens after graduation, which consists of a lot of drinking, sex, and hanging around in an apartment for quite a bit of time until someone decides to go to another dimension. A lot of the book is also spent describing the Fillory books, including details about the characters in it, as well as the creatures and main plot points.

Basically, describing the 5 years at the school, what happens in the Fillory books, and what happens after graduation was just a little too much information for such a short book. If it was a little longer with more important details in it then it might have been even more entertaining than it was.

I didn’t see much character development throughout the entire book. Quentin was depressed no matter what happened. Even when his dreams come true he still wants something more. I just got annoyed by all of his unhappiness and making bad choices. That just made a lot of the book depressing. However, I did like Alice. I think she was the only character I really enjoyed. There was a little bit of character development with her and I felt like I knew her better than the rest of the characters. Also,the other characters you don’t get to know very well, which makes it difficult to remember who is who towards the end of the book.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia because it has aspects from those books. Just don’t go into it believing that it is Harry Potter for adults because its not as good. I am glad that I read the book because it just felt like a different experience, and I will be reading the sequel. ( )
  AshleyMiller | Sep 10, 2014 |
This book was listed somewhere as being 'Harry Potter for grownups". So I read it. And I couldn't agree less that assessment. not only is it LESS delightful reading for mature adults (its very teeny-angst, where as HP is thoroughly entertaining reading for anybody), but it's unlike Harry Potter in it's magical-ness.

The story revolves around anxious 17 year old Quentin who's unhappy genious is underappreciated, and who finds himself in a wizard school. Its high school though, and the story gets more boring after getting off to an ok start. It plodded.

I just couldn't see what the hype was about. It was ok. But it lacked magical sparkle and starry-swish lightness. ( )
  atuson | Sep 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 373 (next | show all)
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)
Grossman, Time magazine's book critic and a frequent writer on technology, clearly has read his Potter and much more. While this story invariably echoes a whole body of romantic coming-of-age tales, Grossman's American variation is fresh and compelling. Like a jazz musician, he riffs on Potter and Narnia, but makes it his own.

Vladimir Nabokov once observed, "The truth is that great novels are great fairy tales." "The Magicians" is a great fairy tale, written for grown-ups but appealing to our most basic desires for stories to bring about some re-enchantment with the world, where monsters lurk but where a young man with a little magic may prevail.

» 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.
He was either going to hit somebody or start a blog. pg 107
Space was full of angry little particles.  212
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:52 -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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