The Magicians (The Magicians #1) by Lev Grossman Book Review

The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

Author: Lev Grossman

Release Date: August, 2009

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 402 pages

Edition: Paperback

Acquired: Borrowed

Rating: 4.5/5

                                                   When Magicians enter the “real world”

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make 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. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.


Quentin Coldwater is something else. In all honesty, he is not a likable protagonist by any means. He is whiny, immature, needy, and in love with the wrong things. I think that is why I could somewhat relate to him on a base level. He doesn’t make the brightest choices, but he stands for something. Magic is everything to him. After he finds out it exists and he can do it relatively well, he feels more like himself than he did when he was an above average high school student.

His love for the magical and mythical land of Fillory is somewhat an obession. The books based on around this so called land is childish fiction. But, somehow thinking it exists helps him survive. When things take a surprising turn, it’s his knowledge and obsession that leads him to a great adventure.

Now, Quentin is well, Quentin. However the side characters are the ones to look out for. Fabulous, partly mysterious, and partly detached Elliot is someone to admire. He is the overseer of the physical kids– the ones who practice physical magic. Often the caregiver, he lends a certain quality and likability that Quentin lacks. Then there is wild, distant, and cold Janet. Often the life of the party, she is a faux mama bear to the physical kids without intending to be. She is not likable in the least. She is flawed, rude, and doesn’t care who she hurts. And, she hurts some people along the way. At first, I didn’t like her. She was loud and obnoxious. As she grew on me, so did the need of her in the realm of this series. Josh is the quiet one in the group. He doesn’t perform magic the same way the others do. It’s haphazard at the most. He doesn’t shine in the group. He is regarded kindly, but is not taken too seriously. Alice, on the other hand, is the best magician of them all. After all, she comes from a family of magicians. Her story arc, though, is a sad one. She hasn’t had the easiest life. She only got in to the school they all attend by way of force. She was not invited to take a test there. The reason is a little heartbreaking, to be honest when you find out.

I loved this book. There were parts in the middle that were slow to take off, but very good when it did. There were great surprises and turns along the way. I found myself wanting to be a part of this misfit gang of magicians. This book, and intro to the series, was a fun escape for me. I got drawn in quiet soon by the wonders and mystery of it all. The characters are by no means perfect. This isn’t J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world for sure. It’s a nice change of pace from the good boy take that J.K. Rowling presented.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and series. It was fun, serious, and unique in its own way. This book and series is no means typical. It takes you on a journey, drops you, then picks you back up. It’s a one of a kind magic book. Take my advice, it’s better to pick up a copy than not reading it at all. A must read for any fantasy lover out there. You don’t want to miss out.

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