The Magicians

The Magicians

A Novel

Book - 2009
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The New York Times bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world, now an original series on SYFY

" The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. . . . Hogwarts was never like this."
--George R.R. Martin

"Sad, hilarious, beautiful, and essential to anyone who cares about modern fantasy."
--Joe Hill

"A very knowing and wonderful take on the wizard school genre."
--John Green

" The Magicians may just be the most subversive, gripping and enchanting fantasy novel I've read this century."
--Cory Doctorow

"This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels in order to upend them . . . an unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story."
--The New Yorker

"The best urban fantasy in years."
--A.V. Club

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he's secretly fascinated with a series of children's fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .

The prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician's Land , The Magicians is one of the most daring and inventive works of literary fantasy in years. No one who has escaped into the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter should miss this breathtaking return to the landscape of the imagination.
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2009.
ISBN: 9780670020553
0670020559
Characteristics: 402 p. ; 25 cm.
Study Program: Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.3 24.0 132770.

Opinion

From Library Staff

If you haven’t started “The Magicians,” now is the time. Three seasons in and just picked up for a fourth, “The Magicians” is a full-fledged fantasy series set in New York that doesn’t shy away from darker themes.

List - Back to School Reads
AnnD_KCMO Aug 14, 2017

Think university for people with magical powers and you have a good idea about the setting for this novel.

A must read for anyone who loved Harry Potter or the Narnia books as a child.


From the critics


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d
DPLbrian
May 05, 2018

As my sister bought me this book I had little prior knowledge to the story before jumping in. It started out alright, much the same as other YA novels do with a discontented protagonist pining after a girl he couldn't have. I thought the book would focus on that relationship and Quentin getting over his myriad of other problems. But oh was I wrong. From the moment Quentin stepped foot in Brakebills I was in love.

Hogwarts had never looked so edgy. All the areas of magic JKR had ignored to make her books more appropriate to a younger audience were brought out in full force in The Magicians. After so many years in the muggle world I was brought back into a school of magic. But magic in Brakebills isn't the frivolous wand waving we see in Hogwarts. It's hard work. Every Brakebills student is a veritable genius, which is very much a pre-requisite for learning magic. Harry Potter magic is to Magicians magic as buying a loaf of bread is to making it. In Harry Potter you recite the incantation, wave the wand, focus a bit, and voila. You have your perfectly portioned baguette. In the Magicians you need a nigh encyclopedic knowledge of bread before you even get started. What type of flour will you use? How long do you need to let it rise? What temperature do you bake it at? For how long? Is it dawn or dusk? What stage is the moon in? Every little details matters.

As our main character Quentin soon finds out, magic is work. Hard work. Perhaps much more than he was prepared for. Quentin is depressed. It's in his nature. Much of the story focuses on how Quentin, who seems to be getting everything he ever wanted, is never quite satisfied. He learns that he may not even be the hero of his own story. Having Quentin be so flawed, is one of the main reasons I love the story. It's so refreshing to have a realistic and fallible main character.

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alexisbosse33
Jan 11, 2018

This was quite disappointing. It started interesting, Harry Potter meets Narnia novel for adults. Then the author adds in numerous unnecessary sex scenes, and really dislike-able characters.
Personally, if I hate a character enough it ruins the book/show for me.. and in this book all the characters become awful.

KevinELPL Aug 10, 2017

This is one of my favorite books ever! The Magicians is often called a grown up Harry Potter, and that's partially true - it is literally a mash-up of Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. However, the characters in The Magicians are not the heroes of those other series - they're more like real high school and college students you might now, with all of a real person's flaws and foibles.

That, in essence, is my favorite thing about this series. The characters in this series sometimes choose to do the right thing, and sometimes they choose the wrong thing, but they always face real-world consequences for their actions. This makes the characters more complicated and nuanced than many/most other fantasy series. It also makes the novels more character-driven rather than plot-driven.

Although the world in this series is a mash-up of Harry Potter and Narnia, the author has put his own unique spin on it. I find the setting to be amazingly detailed - and most importantly, full of magic.

m
mpot
Jun 12, 2017

I checked this book out after I watched the series on television. So Quentins a cutie on the tube, and I could visualize him in the book. The tv series quickly degenerated into a flee-and-put-out-fires adventure series with sex aplenty. Ewww, a plot, please? I quit watching.
BUT the book fulfilled my desire for a meaty plot. It felt very genuine that after graduating Brakebills, what next? The ennui, hitting bottom, then at the last, perhaps a chance for redemption. I am looking forward to the 2nd book in the series.

DBRL_KatieL Apr 28, 2017

I did not enjoy this book. The idea behind it is sound, but the writing and the characters ruined it for me. The main character was constantly seeking something or someone to make him happy, and never seemed to realize if he wanted to be happy he had to do something about it himself, and stop relying on others to make his life worth living.
Part of the writing style I didn't enjoy was the pacing. There are multiple sections in this book, each of which takes place in a different location and is for a different span of time. There would be major events over the course of a chapter or two, that would then left behind, seemingly to have had little impact on the characters beyond that chapter (maybe one more), but no long term significance.
I also had problems with how the world Grossman created operated. Apparently if you learn magic you never have to work for anything ever again, so adults fill their time with meaningless hobbies and lose themselves in fantasy lives-which leads readers to believe they are able to create buildings out of thin air, and somehow pay for everything by creating money. Also at the school the students have to study constantly to learn everything, and be able to preform, however after once the main character is classified into his specialty (which isn't really his specialty but that topics is also left untouched after one chapter) he and his friends have all the time in the world to get drunk, play their wizard games, and lay around in their club house. What happened to the urgency that they wouldn't be able to pass exams?

I grew so frustrated with this book after the halfway point I had to make myself read more than a few pages at a time. I kept thinking "It will get better" but but it never did. It just got more absurd. Finally I didn't want to know what happened next, or how the book ended-I didn't care.

j
jackieparker
Apr 17, 2017

There are elements of this that I truly enjoyed, and the tension and timing in some of the climatic moments were quite well done. However. Pacing throughout was quite uneven, and sections dragged considerably with no advancement of plot or character. The author also seemed to make occasional odd and archaic word choices (surcease? just cease would be adequate) which were more in the vein of "look at my big vocabulary" than in choosing the best word. Obviously, the pitch here was something along the lines of, "What if Hogwarts was college, only more esoteric, and then they discover Narnia is real? And there will be sex and booze and drugs and aimless 20-somethings making bad choices for no real reason except that adulting when you're super-powered is hard?"

I'm not sure I'll read the rest of the trilogy - or even give the tv show a try.

i
isaachar
Mar 01, 2017

The first book in this series can be advertised as a "grown up" version of Harry Potter with a bit of Chronicles of Narnia mixed in. That is mostly accurate regarding the setting, but the story is about a group of young people dealing with the stresses of higher education (albeit a magical higher education), adulthood after college, substance abuse and clinical depression.

The main character is not likable in any way, but if read in the context of his condition he's understandable. The same goes for most of the other characters. Each are flawed in a different, but blatant way. Still, the overall story and the background of "Magic and Magical creatures in the real world and beyond" make the book really enjoyable.

k
kwsmith
Jan 28, 2017

For the first few hundred pages I thought this was going to be one of the best modern fantasy novels that I've ever read. Sadly, Grossman gets a bit lost in his own writing towards the end. Still this novel remains well worth reading, especially if you enjoy dark fantasy.

a
aarondeas
Dec 29, 2016

This book was disappointing. The characters are mostly unlikeable, and while the story was mildly interesting there was WAY too much weird teen angst (even though I don't think these characters were actually teens).

But mainly it was just disjointed and rather unpleasant to read. Ah well.

DBRL_KrisA Nov 27, 2016

This book was on my sister's to-read list, and I think I know why. Karen absolutely loved the Harry Potter books, having read them to my nephew as he was growing up. At first glance, The Magicians has a similar premise - boy discovers a whole new world of magic, and is invited to attend a school for magicians. But whereas the Harry Potter books were about a sweet, young British boy attending a nice British school for young kids, this book is about Quentin, a horny, mopey, angst-y American teenager from Brooklyn attending a college-level school in upstate New York. There's a lot of college-level antics in this book - drinking, cussing, sexing - that you wouldn't have found anywhere remotely near Hogwarts.
While Rowling's descriptions of performing magic were full of the romantic aspects - waving wands and saying pretty words, Grossman focuses more on the journeyman type aspects of magic; if the teachers at Hogwarts look at magic as painting or sculpting, the faculty of Brakebills consider it more along the lines of baking or carpentry.
But Quentin's education at Brakebills is only the beginning quarter of the book. As a child (and. let's face it, as a teenager) Quentin read over and over a Narnia-esque series of children's novels depicting a land called Fillory. After graduating from Brakebills, Quentin and friends discover that Fillory actually exists, and they set off on a Magical Quest to find it. The remainder of the book relates that quest, and what happens with the friends when they discover that Fillory-of-fiction and Fillory-in-real-life are not necessarily the same thing.
I think Karen would have enjoyed this book, once she got past the disappointment of it not being (at all) like the Harry Potter series. There are some definite "adult situations", and Grossman makes it clear pretty early that these are not cute little kids in a cute little magic school. There are deaths, and hook-ups, and imbibing of various drugs and alcoholic beverages. But it's an exciting, well-developed story complete with Important Messages that make us Think about Life.

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Runner4ever
Jul 21, 2017

Runner4ever thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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Yamallamah98
Jun 15, 2017

Yamallamah98 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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michellekwruck
Mar 02, 2017

michellekwruck thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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WeirdCammy
Jan 20, 2016

WeirdCammy thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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beckylunatic
Apr 06, 2011

The truth doesn't always make a good story, does it? But I think I tied up most of the loose threads. I'm sure you can fill in the rest, if you really think about it.

a
andreareads
Dec 20, 2010

Nobody wanted to admit they were frightened, so they took the only other option, which was to be irritable instead.

n
ndp21f
Aug 12, 2010

He wasn’t sure they were friends, exactly, but she was unfolding a little. He felt like a safecracker who—partly by luck—had sussed out the first digit in a lengthy, arduous combination.

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michellekwruck
Mar 02, 2017

The main character is a self-loathing teen who hasn't been able to let go of his childhood obsession with a series of fantasy novels about a magical world called Fillory. What a surprise when he discovers first that magic is real, and then that Fillory is too. Unfortunately, for him, neither prove to be all that he'd dreamed they were as a child. While there is a clear and strong plot throughout the book, the novel seems to be mostly about the main character's struggle with his own unhappiness. Magic doesn't do it. A new girlfriend doesn't do it. Entering Fillory doesn't do it. In many ways it's a psychological journey more than a fantasy journey. Be prepared for a level of self-pity and self-loathing that will have you rolling your eyes and hoping this kid will grow up.

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