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The Magicians (2009)

by Lev Grossman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Magicians (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,909654713 (3.44)1 / 460
Haboring secret preoccupations with a magical land he read about in a childhood fantasy series, Quentin Coldwater is unexpectedly admitted into an exclusive college of magic and rigorously educated in modern sorcery.
  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. 168
    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: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones (Anonymous user)
  7. 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?"
  8. 40
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  9. 85
    Harry Potter (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.
  10. 41
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  11. 20
    Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Cecrow)
  12. 31
    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)
  13. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  14. 20
    A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: Teenagers suddenly plunged into the magical-boarding-school experience and, once their training is behind them, having to figure out who is trustworthy, what they need to do with their lives, whether they are being summoned into leadership roles, and maybe - just maybe - where their reality is coming from in the first place.… (more)
  15. 10
    The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (BeckyJG)
  16. 10
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes.
  17. 43
    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. 10
    Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema (ShelfMonkey)
  19. 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.
  20. 10
    Vita Nostra by Sergey Dyachenko (KatyBee)

(see all 33 recommendations)


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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 FantasyFans: The Magicians - Lev Grossman25 unread / 25Jenson_AKA_DL, April 2019

» See also 460 mentions

English (650)  German (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (653)
Showing 1-5 of 650 (next | show all)
I got this book because of the recommendation by Patrick Rothfuss, so considering I loved his novel (and his review of this was good), I thought I might like it as well. Not so much.

I understand paying homage to authors and stories that you enjoy, but not to this degree. I didn't find there to be anything unique about this book - teen angst, school for wizards, travelling to other worlds to be kings/queens. Yes, this novel was darker in some spots than the other stories, but that wasn't enough for me to forget the references.

The plot was also all over the place. There was no real story-arch that kept you wanting to see what happened next, and to glue the pieces together. The different periods of Q's life in the story were very separate, without much linking them together. Yes, he talks about Fillory a lot, but it would have been great to see him trying to get there throughout the novel, without it just suddenly happening 3/4 of the way through the book (and by a different character, at that). I didn't have any sense of what the 'big bad' was, and what the quest or adventure was.

I just found this book hard to like - the plot was too choppy, characters I didn't really care for, and way too derivative without a new spin to give it uniqueness. ( )
  PurplOttr | Dec 1, 2023 |
This book is very problematic. Firstly, let me say that I did like the actual writing itself and that is mostly what kept me reading. But everything else? Awful. The characters aren't likable and there is little-to-no plot.

Roughly the first half of the book follows Quentin and his friends through magic school - this was the most interesting part to me, mostly because I've never read Harry Potter. Then the book shifts to post-graduation, where he and his friends do little more than get drunk, and then the last quarter of the book is in the magical land of Fillory, a world that seemed to just be a cheap imitation of Narnia and which was never really fleshed out. Since there was no plot, all these setting changes made the book that much more disjointed.

Then there was the unnecessary language and sex, the general "nothing in life matters, I'll just be miserable, then miserable some more, then repeat," attitude of all of the characters, and the gore thrown in that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the book.

Eeesh... I'm not sure how this got to be so popular? ( )
  RachelRachelRachel | Nov 21, 2023 |
Flat out boring. Not worth finishing. Read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Instead ( )
  hubrisinmotion | Nov 14, 2023 |
Hard book. Had some brilliant sections but the story flat out dragged in some areas. Not as clever as I was hoping. The ending was great (hence the 3 stars) but I am not sure it was worth slogging through some of the slow parts to get there. ( )
  cdaley | Nov 2, 2023 |
Everybody say The Magicians is like an adult version of the Harry Potter series and in a way it is but it lacks some of the Harry Potter magic (no pun intended).
I'm sure that almost everybody fantasizes at some point about realizing they have magic. That was what happened to Harry Potter and that's what happened to Quentin. However, The Magicians is a bit darker since it's more "realistic" and incorporates more real life issues such as drugs, sex, depression, desires, etc. However, I felt that sometimes this realism was a bit forced.
Still, I enjoyed reading The Magicians and I think I'll give the sequels (at least the 2nd one) a try. I might even check out the TV version of it. ( )
  Tom.Morrison | Nov 1, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 650 (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 (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lev Grossmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sámi, LászlóTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schäfer, StefanieÜbersetzersecondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haboring secret preoccupations with a magical land he read about in a childhood fantasy series, Quentin Coldwater is unexpectedly admitted into an exclusive college of magic and rigorously educated in modern sorcery.

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