Book Review: The Magicians

22 Jul

Title: The Magicians

Author: Lev Grossman

Publication Date:  May 25, 2010

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Plume

Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary (from Barnes & Noble): Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren’t black and white, and power comes at a terrible price.

My Review: Every statement (well, at least most of them) I’ve seen about this book refers to it as “Harry Potter for Grownups” or “a way for adults to return to C.S Lewis’ world of Narnia”. I suppose both of those statements are accurate in their own way (as there are references to both in this novel), and it is most definitely a book for teens/grownups but the book is more than that and to simply compare it to two other great works of fantasy does not allow the book to stand firmly on it’s own story and writing.

It did take me a bit of time to get into the book, and I found myself having to re-read the first few chapters after I initially put it down and walked away from it for a month. Once I managed to get into the flow of the book and beyond the initial unsure feeling it gave me, I was able to settle in and enjoy the story.

At the very beginning I felt a bit put off by Quentin as he came across as a bit of a prat, however I managed to warm up slightly to him as the book went on and more characters were introduced. I believe he become more personable when seen side by side next to some characters who were a bit more out there in their ideals and behaviors. I found myself inexplicably drawn to this cast of misfit characters and curious to see what happened to them.

I found the magic of this book most intriguing, as it did not seem like the magic I was used to reading about. It’s certainly more Narnia type magic that Harry Potter, that’s for sure. There seemed to be more a focus on magical theory and history and process and fewer spells and incantations that would be quoted in my every day life for years to come. (I still try to use Accio when I’m feeling extremely lazy and don’t want to get up form the couch!)

Overall the book did not leave me feeling satisfied at the end and especially as I was left feeling that there were certain parts that were unresolved. However, I learned that there was to be a sequel and hopefully this can help resolve some of the lingering feelings and emotions I have leftover when the book ended. I’m sure I’ll pick up the sequel if only out of my own morbid curiosity about what happens to these misfits.


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