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The Magicians: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy) Paperback – May 25, 2010

1,594 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Magicians Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: Mixing the magic of beloved children's fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman's Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grownups. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he’s admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom--which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected. The Magicians breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know--if the people you want to know are charismatic, brilliant, complex, flawed magicians--and does what Quentin claims books never really manage to do: "get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better. " Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting. --Mari Malcolm --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Harry Potter discovers Narnia is real in this derivative fantasy thriller from Time book critic Grossman (Codex). Quentin Coldwater, a Brooklyn high school student devoted to a children's series set in the Narnia-like world of Fillory, is leading an aimless existence until he's tapped to enter a mysterious portal that leads to Brakebills College, an exclusive academy where he's taught magic. Coldwater, whose special gifts enable him to skip grades, finds his family's world mundane and domestic when he returns home for vacation. He loses his innocence after a prank unintentionally allows a powerful evil force known only as the Beast to enter the college and wreak havoc. Eventually, Coldwater's powers are put to the test when he learns that Fillory is a real place and how he can journey there. Genre fans will easily pick up the many nods to J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis, not to mention J.R.R. Tolkien in the climactic battle between the bad guy and a magician. 5-city author tour.(Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Magicians Trilogy
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452296293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452296299
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,594 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Lev Grossman is the author of the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy. The third book in the trilogy, The Magician's Land, was published in 2014 and was a #1 bestseller. An hour-long TV drama based on the series will begin airing on Syfy in early 2016.

Grossman has been Time magazine's book critic and lead technology writer for over a decade, and he has also written essays and criticism for the New York Times, Salon, Slate, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, the Village Voice and the Believer, among others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

915 of 1,070 people found the following review helpful By Theoden Humphrey VINE VOICE on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Stop thinking this is a fantasy book. I know, I know, it's called "The Magicians," the plot synopsis references all three of the most famous fantasy series and describes a handful of familiar fantasy tropes, including the school of magic and the fairy tale land come to actual life. But forget all of that. I have read more fantasy books than I can remember -- I'm named for a character in perhaps the most famous fantasy series of all time -- and I'm telling you: "The Magicians" is not a fantasy.

It has fantastic elements, yes. There is magic; there is a school for magic, where the characters learn to cast spells, using hand gestures and arcane language and strange mystical components -- Ziploc bag full of mutton fat, anyone? -- and there is a voyage from this world to another, a land of naiads and fauns and magical speaking animals, gods and demons, kings and queens, quests and wishes. But this book is something very different from the usual fantasy novel. In "The Magicians," Lev Grossman has done something unusual, and remarkable, perhaps even unique: this is a grown-up fantasy. This book is to fantasy what "The Grapes of Wrath" is to travel books, what "The Metamorphosis" is to self-help: so much more depressing and visceral and funny and horrifying, and genuine, and fascinating, and hard to read and therefore valuable, that it doesn't belong in the same category despite sharing some central traits. The setting is imagined, and there are supernatural things that happen, but make no mistake: this is a serious novel.
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522 of 621 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell M. Tse VINE VOICE on July 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a well written story about a magical world, a fairly detailed world of rules and exceptions. The story, at one point, had a very poignant concept of what magic may be: That if the universe was a house that God made for everyone, that Magic was the tools he left behind, possibly by accident, in the garage. That perhaps using Magic was as dangerous as kids finding these power tools and such, and using them without direction or precaution.

The characters in the story are fairly fleshed out, in that you have a good sense of what drives them, what makes them tick, you can see the dynamics between them. The description of the magic school Brakebills is very well done, filled with things that people don't understand about and that has a life of its own. And while at the very end there's something that can lead to a sequel, there's definitely an ending to this book, no gimmick cliffhanger that requires you to wait for the next book.

Definitely, the book had the makings of a great story. Yet, I was left numb at the end, not happy, not sad, not scared. And that, really, is why I left this review with 3 stars. I read fiction to be entertained. This entertainment can be in the form of humor, feeling good, scared, excited, titillated, insightful, or some combination thereof. Instead, when I read this book, I saw through the eyes of a fairly apathetic protagonist, who messes things up and blames everyone else, who had chances to become a hero and fails each time. I read about a person who wanted something, got it, didn't like it, and became apathetic. I read about the antagonist being defeated, the protagonist winning in the end, and no one feeling ... well, happy for having accomplished anything. Perhaps this is what real life can be.
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97 of 115 people found the following review helpful By PJ on May 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was given this book as a gift, and finally sat down to read it. After the first thirty pages or so, I was still wondering what the book was supposed to be. Was it fantasy? (No.) Was it homage? (No.) Was it parody? (No.) Was it an exercise in existential ennui? (Maybe, but not a well done one.) I kept reading, hoping that the book would hit its stride as the plot engaged and as I got to know the characters...

...but the book sputters along with no real plot, very little character development, and the oddest choices in pacing that I've read in a long while.

No plot: there really isn't a story here. The book follows Quentin's (the main character's) life in fits and starts as events happen to him, and as he whines to himself about it, but there is no story arc to pull you in and keep the reader engaged. Things just happen, and then another thing happens, and then something unrelated happens. Add to that the fact that the prose is klunky and occasionally florid, and you've got a book that requires more work to read than it should. I found myself speed-reading three and four pages at a time, and missing nothing essential. (In fairness, noticing and fixing stuff like that is an editor's job, and this book might read a lot better if it had gotten a sterner editing.)

It might be possible for a book to thrive without a strong storyline or plot, if there are characters you can care for. I could not come to believe in these characters, much less care about them; they are too one dimensional, and that dimension is the same for all of them (angsty). Quentin especially just goes where events pull him, as though he is just the author's puppet. And despite those events, he remains essentially the same brat at the end as at the beginning: whiny, self-absorbed, and unlikeable.
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