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The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman

The Magicians: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Lev Grossman

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5,603465765 (3.45)1 / 399
Title:The Magicians: A Novel
Authors:Lev Grossman
Info:Plume (2010), Paperback, 416 pages

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. 195
    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. 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.
  5. 147
    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. 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. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  9. 20
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  10. 31
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  11. 10
    Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema (ShelfMonkey)
  12. 10
    The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (BeckyJG)
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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?"
  16. 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.
  17. 10
    The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (Jess1106)
  18. 10
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Scottneumann)
  19. 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.
  20. 00
    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)

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English (463)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (465)
Showing 1-5 of 463 (next | show all)
Ok, I never write reviews. NEVER. Ok, I shouldn't say never. I rarely write reviews but this one, due to the insistence of a fellow just-as-disgruntled reader, I am writing a review.

WHAT THE EFF? There are very few books I've found painful to read ever since I learned to read at the tender age of I can't remember. One that comes to mind that I attempted to read was some translation of a Swedish best seller. I could not get past the second chapter.

But I digress.

I trudged through this book. I trudged and trudged and trudged. The never ending trudging to get to GD Fillory. Well, we got there. Didn't we? And it only took 7/8ths of the book to get there. The most interesting part of the book was the last 8th of the book. And the rest of the book?

Broody Quentin. Moody Quentin. Booby Quentin. Too bad he wasn't Foodie Quentin because that would have added a little more depth to his character. And the rest of the characters? I like Eliot. The end. The rest were annoying and stereotyped.

And normally with series books, I read the whole series. I will willingly trudge through an entire series even when with each book, the series is dying a slow death - the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon comes to mind. I WILL FINISH THE ENTIRE SERIES UNTIL DIANA IS DONE. But no Lev Grossman, I will not finish your series. I was disappointed by your main character, I was disappointed by your ability to get NO point fast enough, and I was disappointed with the Fillory quest and Fillory in general after QUENTIN and PENNY hyped it up so much. THANKS A LOT QUENTIN AND PENNY AND JANET AND ALICE AND not JOSH. Eliot is ok.

Sorry for the rant, Lev Grossman. I will read another book by you but not this series. ( )
1 vote Prashna | Jul 29, 2016 |
When Quentin is tossed out of Fillory he is forced to start at the beginning and that means returning to Brakebills, the school that made him a magician. Back at where he started, Quentin now has time to evaluate his life. What does magic mean to him and what things would he undo if he could. In this final trip, Quentin must finally accept himself for who he is and now and not who he thought he would be. Life isn't fair to anyone really, you just have to deal with as it comes along.

One of the things that I have struggled with in this series is that I don't find a single character in the least bit likable and while that's not necessary for a good book, it certainly goes a long way. Thankfully, by the time we get to The Magician's Land, Quentin and crew are all about thirty years old and a long way from the annoying teenagers we first met in The Magicians. Gone is the heavy sense of entitlement and purposeful disillusionment with life and instead there's a more mature acceptance that not everyone can be special. That being said, I feel as though Grossman spent more time telling me that Quentin had changed and become a different person than showing me. It's as though he felt that if he said it enough times, the reader would be convinced that this is the case.

The few attempts at growth really came out of nowhere and made little sense to me. When Quentin's father dies, he becomes angry and emotional when he learns that his father was exactly what he appeared to be - an ordinary man. What I don't understand is why this is such a big deal to Quentin, given that he has spent the entire series talking about how disconnected he is from his parents. In fact, in this very book, when he landed on earth after being expelled from Fillory, he chose to go to Brakebills instead of seeing his parents, yet I'm supposed to believe that he's mourning the loss of his father? Quentin's search for a father figure then moves to Brakebills South and even then I found myself wondering where this parental relationship came from? Mayakovsky didn't seem particularly enamored with Quentin when they met in the first book and Quentin is all too eager to put him in the position of daddy. I'm not even sure where this came from and why it's relevant beyond Quentin picking up the coins he would need for later.

Women have pretty much gotten the short shift in this series and I don't think I can say that The Magician's Land is much better. I know that Grossman was trying to tie up loose ends but Quentin bringing Alice back from the dead really didn't help matters as far as I am concerned. Sure, Alice becomes human again and she lets Quentin have it and it's almost cathartic to read after how insufferable Quentin has been. Had Alice held onto her anger, it really could have gone somewhere but Quentin feeds her bacon, mangoes and chocolate and the plies her with champagne and it's all over. Alice is ready to jump in the sack with Quentin and while she may not be ready to be in a romantic relationship with him right away, the seeds are there. Sure, Alice does save Quentin by punching Penny in the face but really, bringing Alice back is all about making Quentin a hero again. All of her pain and all of her suffering is really about him and his path.

Julia was raped by a God at the end of The Magician King and from there she became a demi god. Julia doesn't have a large role in this novel at all. Yes, she works behind the scenes to ensure that the God who raped her is killed and I suppose there's some satisfaction with that but the rape never should have happened in the first damn place. Julia is pretty much absent from The Magician's Land and only shows up at the end to congratulate Quentin on giving up his godhood and to take up to the other side, so that he can see that represents the child he once was. Yes, Quentin takes the time to connect with his inner child and the sense of wonder and hope that he used to have. Julia's appearance in this book, is about helping Quentin come to terms with his past so that he can move forward.

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Jul 27, 2016 |
What a great read! I really enjoyed this book...it's like a cross between Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia, except for adults. Imaginative, wonderful and it had me turning pages until far too late into the night. ( )
  crystallyn | Jul 6, 2016 |
The main thing that is depressing about this book is reading all of the whining about how they didn't liiiike the chaaaaracters because they weren't admirable or heroic. They drink, the screw the wrong people, they make bad decisions, they can't be happy despite every reason to be happy. In other words, this book uploads the human condition into Lewis/Rowling fantasyland and plays around with what might happen. Not perfect, but still fascinating, worth the time and improves on second reading. ( )
1 vote JHLanier | Jul 5, 2016 |
It has its flaws such as rapidly moving through time distanced myself from th characters growth. And the vulgarity... ( )
  capiam1234 | Jun 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 463 (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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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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