Book Review: The Magicians

The Magicians, written by Lev Grossman, is the story of a boy who grew up reading about the magical world of Fillroy where everything seemed bigger and better than his own life. He is disgruntled with his life, secretly pining after his best friends girl friend and trying to get into a top tier school with his stellar academic credentials and brainiac mindset. Quentin Coldwater is a true nerd of the first order.

However, when he arrives at an interview to get a recommendation from a college Alum he finds the interviewer dead, a lost manuscript of the Fillroy series, and then looses the lost manuscript when it flutters away from him and his chase leads him to a hidden school of magic but not lost manuscript. He gets lost in the excitement of a real magic school and proceeds to study his butt off, learn magic, has a close knit group of friends, gets a girl friend and yet he is still disgruntled with his life. Then one day he discovers the Fillroy is real and he is give a quest. Sure this will disperse his perpetual desire for something more, he sets out to the magical land of Fillroy to complete his quest.

This is the book I wish I had written. I thought it was amazing. While including lovely bits about magic and nerds and stories from books being real, it also included the dark side of human nature that never seems to be satisfied even when it is given its deepest desire. This book was more than a secret garden behind a wall, it was a secret look at a person’s darkness that is only more hidden as the secret world is revealed. Quentin not only learns about magic in school, but he also learns exactly who he is as a person. I really thought these books were well written, the pacing of the story was perfect, and while I guessed some of the story I was totally unprepared for some twists and turns it took. This is one book were reading ahead gained me nothing, and I had to go back and read furiously to catch up with my sneak peek. Plus it just had so many great lines: “Are you kidding? 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.”

I understand some people may read this book thinking it is a light-hearted tale, Harry Potter for adults. That is totally NOT the case. I’m a little annoyed with the comparison frankly. Grossman’s writing is far superior to Rowlings, he doesn’t just throw dark things into the plot to make his hero more likable. In fact, his anti-hero is purposely unlikeable. This is like a reality check for everyone reading light fluff about magic. Because it magic, in this sense, was really real. I’m betting people who were magicians would be far more like Quentin and his friends than Potter, Hermoine, or Ron. Grossman’s tale goes well beyond the adventure sci/fi urban fantasy genre, and takes a look how how this genre has affected all of us who read it. I’m totally in love with this book and looking forward to reading the second one, The Magician King.

Read another review here and here. Enjoy this type of book? Check out Read in a Single Sittings list of comparable books here.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Magicians

  1. Pingback: Review: The Magician King | Absurdly Nerdly

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman | Absurdly Nerdly

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds | Absurdly Nerdly

  4. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I’m Looking Forward To or Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I Still Need To Watch | Absurdly Nerdly

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