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The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians (2009)

by Lev Grossman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Magicians (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,476563790 (3.46)1 / 433
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)
  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
    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?"
  7. 40
    The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones (Anonymous user)
  8. 30
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  9. 41
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  10. 75
    The Complete Harry Potter 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
    Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Cecrow)
  12. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  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. 10
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes.
  15. 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)
  16. 10
    The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott (Jess1106)
  17. 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.
  18. 10
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Scottneumann)
  19. 10
    The Voodoo Killings: A Kincaid Strange Novel (Kincaid Strange Series, The) by Kristi Charish (charlie68)
  20. 10
    Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema (ShelfMonkey)

(see all 32 recommendations)


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English (559)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (562)
Showing 1-5 of 559 (next | show all)
Recommended by a friend - it's a story of teenagers attending a secret magic school, learning spells and making friends. They graduate, fall into a life of debauchery because they don't know what to do with their magical skills. They find a way to travel to another dimension and become embroiled in the alternate world, have some battles, fall in love....... sound like another series you know? Occasional strains of Harry Potter, but a more adult version and I did find it mostly entertaining. I'm reading the trilogy to satisfy my "trilogy" category in the 2015 reading challenge ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
I wouldn't say this was like either Harry Potter or Narnia, unless it was Harry Potter condensed into 200 pages and someone had only read an excerpt of Narnia. I didn't find any of the characters that remarkable and I didn't love most choices at the ending. ( )
  Linyarai | Feb 16, 2020 |
i really thought i was going to love this book -- it had an air of delicious promise in the first few pages....Quentin seemed an amusingly angsty sort and the writing was snarky and clever.

Then it became a bit tedious....

I kept waiting for something Really Good to happen.

I kept waiting for Quentin to not be a self-important tosser.

I'm still waiting.

Still -- it has it's merits.

Learning that the author is a book critic made sense -- the jabs at popular fantasy - Harry Potter, Narnia etc were thinly veiled and, at times, quite offensive (but isn't that what critics do? offend sensibilities?)

So, on the one hand, he pissed me off...and on the other, he offered a different perspective on the fantasy genre and a (somewhat depressing) social commentary. ie. self-absorbed, narcissistic, pleasure-seeking, overblown-sense-of-entitlement people and how they expect the world on a platter.

I think it's the sort of perspective that angers people (hence some rather scathing reviews) because of the degree of investment we have in the whole escape-to-fantasy-worlds stories. I grew up reading those stories and they've informed my own writing and philosophies on the value of magic and wonder in the world...so there were times while i was reading that i truly hated Mr. Grossman for violating the sanctity of those places with his sad-sack, detestable characters...but the hate was more a case of righteous indignation than anything rooted in my opinions of his skill as a storyteller.

Grudgingly, I'll say i "liked" it -- but not in the way i usually 'like' fantasy novels and because it wouldn't be fair to rate a book on the basis of my hurt feelings and disillusionment. And, in the same way one rubber-necks to view the car-wreck, i'll probably read the next one -- morbid curiosity...to see how he'll break my heart this time. ( )
  inkblotmoon | Feb 6, 2020 |
Listened to the audiobook after watching the tv series. What a delight. I found the humor and wonder to be intact, while the books add an additional layer of pathos to the characters. It's like candy to find the sometimes subtle and sometimes wholesale differences in the plot: deeply familiar, but new at the same time. Exactly what I needed in the middle of a cold January. ( )
  jscape2000 | Jan 18, 2020 |
Harry Potter, but with swearing, sex, booze. Interesting and fun. ( )
  obtusata | Jan 9, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 559 (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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Average: (3.46)
0.5 14
1 118
1.5 19
2 287
2.5 63
3 654
3.5 185
4 785
4.5 79
5 416


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