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

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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: 5.5 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 (1,530 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,394 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 novels The Magicians and The Magician King. The third book in the trilogy, The Magician's Land, will be published in August 2014. The New Yorker named The Magicians as one of the best books of 2009. In 2011 Grossman was awarded the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer by the World Science Fiction Society.

Grossman is also the book critic at Time magazine, and he has written about books and technology for the New York Times, Salon, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, Lingua Franca, the Village Voice and the Believer, as well as NPR.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children. He's 43, slightly built and probably wouldn't last long in a post-apocalyptic, eye-for-an-eye world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

892 of 1,043 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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510 of 603 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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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Bookd on August 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because it was compared to Harry Potter, which I adore. Comparing this book to Harry Potter is like telling your child you are taking them to Disney but instead dropping them off at a highway rest stop. This has about as much in common with Harry Potter as a Danielle Steel novel.

Doesn't a book, even a bad one, need to have SOME kind of plot? An antagonist? A protagonist? Some basic structure?? Because this book has none of the above. There is honestly no point to the book at all. The characters go to magic school...but what do they do there?? We are told almost nothing about their lives at this school. Sometimes a year goes by in 10 pages. Nothing about student life, the type of magic they learn, why they are even learning magic in the first place. Barely a physical description of a single character, nothing about the faculty of the school. So WHY make the setting a magical school if you were not going to explore it??

There is nothing much to like about the one dimensional characters. You aren't invested in them, and you know nothing about them besides most of them like to drink. The main character Quentin has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Then at the end there is some Narnia rip off called Fillory where they go for no reason. With some kid that was mentioned on a page somewhere named Penny. I think he has a mohawk or a bad haircut. That's probably the most you will learn about any character in the book.

I cannot fathom the marketing push or hype this book received. I didn't read it when it first came out, but I remember a big deal being made out of it. If you are expecting magic, fantasy, or remotely likable fleshed out characters, look elsewhere. I can only imagine the author had friends in high places, because I don't see how this book ever got published. I also see there is a sequel, which I certainly won't be reading. A total disappointment. The only thing I liked about the book was the really cool cover.
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