The Magicians – Lev Grossman

Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
ISBN: 9780670020553
Pages: 416
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Viking Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Satire
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Quentin has never really fit in, at school or in his life at home.  His parents are too busy for him and he only has two friends, neither of which seem overly concerned about him.  He finds solace in fantasy books from his childhod about the magical land of Fillory.  When Quentin is admitted to Brakebills Academy, a school for those who can use magic, he feels as if his childhood dreams are coming true.  But what he doesn’t realize is that a world with magic in it can still be a dark and dangerous place.

Review:

I was really intrigued by the prospect of The Magicians, so I was very excited when my book club chose it for our November read.  I’ve seen it billed as a Harry Potter for adults.  I was very curious as to what it was like.

I have to say, the marketing around The Magicians did it a disservice.  This is not really a fantasy book; it’s a book about fantasy books.  Grossman pays homage to multiple fantasy works in The Magicians – The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and T.H. Whyte’s The Once and Future King just to name a few.  Reading it as a satire or an homage really changes the experience of it for the better.

The first half of The Magicians worked well.  It was slow at times, but Quentin’s experiences at Brakebills were fascinating.  The parts after Quentin leaves Brakebills were a little less appealing, in part because the two halves of the book are so different from one another, bridged by a rather unlikeable middle part.  I think The Magicians may have worked better as two separate books.  That would have given Grossman the ability to go into more depth and explore each world more.  That might have been more satisfying.

There were a lot of dropped plot lines in The Magicians, which was definitely frustrating.  Something would happen that would seem to have lasting repercussions for the storyline, yet it would never be revisited.  Additionally, a lot of aspects of the book weren’t explained clearly, and that vagueness was frustrating.

All of these complaints may make it seem like I hated the book, which I surprisingly didn’t.  I actually enjoyed the experience of reading it.  Grossman is a talented writer, even if this story wasn’t as tight as it could have been.  The book went quickly for me, and I never was bored, even during the slow parts.  The Magicians definitely had its flaws, but I still think it’s an interesting book.  Above all, this is a book written for those who loved all those childhood fantasy novels.

A last note, I think The Magicians made a wonderful book club read.  Some of us loved it, some of us hated it, but we all had something to say so the discussion was very lively.

Comments

  1. I found it interesting to hear that you described this as a book of two halves because I gave up at the half way point. Do you think the second half was better?

    There is a sequel to the Magicians, so perhaps those dropped plot points will be picked up again in that?

  2. I found it interesting to hear that you described this as a book of two halves because I gave up at the half way point. Do you think the second half was better?

    There is a sequel to the Magicians, so perhaps those dropped plot points will be picked up again in that?

  3. Nice review. After our book club discussion, I have a different opinion of the book. I still didn’t love it but when I thought of it as a book about books, I liked it better.

    The dropped plot lines were definitely something that bothered me.

  4. Nice review. After our book club discussion, I have a different opinion of the book. I still didn’t love it but when I thought of it as a book about books, I liked it better.

    The dropped plot lines were definitely something that bothered me.

  5. People are all over the board on this one. I’ve been personally turned off by them, and probably won’t pick up the book unless I’m compelled.

  6. People are all over the board on this one. I’ve been personally turned off by them, and probably won’t pick up the book unless I’m compelled.

  7. You liked this one a whole lot more than I did, but I think a lot of it was over my head since I don’t read a lot of fantasy.

  8. You liked this one a whole lot more than I did, but I think a lot of it was over my head since I don’t read a lot of fantasy.

  9. Hmm a satire/homage to fantasy books. That sounds like a good read, I’m going to check it out :) I gave you an award http://blackteensread2.blogspot.com/2009/11/waiting-on-wednesday-awards-reading-in.html

  10. Hmm a satire/homage to fantasy books. That sounds like a good read, I’m going to check it out :) I gave you an award http://blackteensread2.blogspot.com/2009/11/waiting-on-wednesday-awards-reading-in.html

  11. I hadn’t thought of this book as being a book about books. I had this out from the library but returned it when I realized it was more on the dark side. But if I read it as a book about books, one that pays homage to favorite childhood fantasies, that might make a big difference!

  12. I hadn’t thought of this book as being a book about books. I had this out from the library but returned it when I realized it was more on the dark side. But if I read it as a book about books, one that pays homage to favorite childhood fantasies, that might make a big difference!

  13. Not a favorite of fantasy books. But its a nice review to read.

  14. Not a favorite of fantasy books. But its a nice review to read.

  15. It’s funny, but I had the same reaction to the book. There were several things I felt could have been improved on before it was issued, but I did find myself enjoying it by the end.

  16. It’s funny, but I had the same reaction to the book. There were several things I felt could have been improved on before it was issued, but I did find myself enjoying it by the end.

  17. Nice review. I’ve debated back and forth on reading this one. I’m still kind of on the fence with it.

  18. Nice review. I’ve debated back and forth on reading this one. I’m still kind of on the fence with it.

  19. I was torn about this book. I really liked the fantasy story but I didn’t like the mean spirited way some of the references were made. You’re right about the marketing too — I didn’t think it was a Harry Potter for adults.

  20. I was torn about this book. I really liked the fantasy story but I didn’t like the mean spirited way some of the references were made. You’re right about the marketing too — I didn’t think it was a Harry Potter for adults.

  21. I always wonder about dropped plot lines. Did the author just forget about it or was there more to it that got edited out without cleaning up the whole thing?

  22. I always wonder about dropped plot lines. Did the author just forget about it or was there more to it that got edited out without cleaning up the whole thing?

  23. I think you put it perfectly that the book is interest

    ing but the vagueness is frustrating. I am half way through this on audio and while I’m enjoying the language and the references but I keep wondering when the plot is going to start!

  24. I think you put it perfectly that the book is interest

    ing but the vagueness is frustrating. I am half way through this on audio and while I’m enjoying the language and the references but I keep wondering when the plot is going to start!

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