Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical wizard book, but a novel, October 13, 2011
This review is from: The Magicians: A Novel (Hardcover)
I wanted to pass this one by. After all, the story of some young kids who find themselves attending a magical school, where they train to be magicians. Coming of age, Bildungsroman, adventures which turn into learning experiences. Setting aside Harry Potter, this is a story told weekly by some fantasy writer and I've simply read too many of them. Though this one hit the best seller lists, so do some particularly derivative fantasy books, mainly on the basis of pent up demand for the 12th book in some boring series. Fortunately, The Magicians is something more than that and quite enjoyable.

World building is the bedrock of many fantasy novels - what is the school like, what odd characters must exist, the suspension of disbelief that grows progressively greater. Grossman does something a lot harder. These high achieving college students behave like high achieving college students. They fight, strike poses, drink and drug themselves when they can. They pair off and manipulate each other. Magic isn't a wish fulfillment tool, but rather like rocket science. Not everyone can be good at it, but the best work extremely hard on developing their gift. No one is there because their mother loved them and protected them from evil when they were a baby.

Their world is a not just an alternative form of ours, but it IS our. Bored kids looking for a purpose, learning an arcane skill at college and then turning into aimless adults. No magical tutors who will protect and guide them. Fewer flying cars and more taking money from ATMs through a spell. Even when we move into significant magic, the world seems less like Indiana Jones and more like a troop deployment to Afghanistan.

Nor is this a story of the inevitable triumph of good over evil. Like life, most of the characters are a mixture of good and evil, a more Catholic implementation of the doctrine of Original Sin. Good definitely has significant power, but so does delusion, ambition and other less attractive motives. People will get hurt, hurt each other in ways that are all too familiar and characters that are not "crewman Green" will die.

So what led me to write a review of this fine book? It is like most good books or music. We can almost predict what comes next, are pleased with that ability and even more pleased when we can't. In the end, this is a novel and a very good one, so I won't shelve it in the fantasy though I put the second copy there to entice the fantasy readers. As a final tribute, I would add that it most reminded me of Ursula LeGuin and I have trouble thinking of a higher tribute.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

3.3 out of 5 stars (894 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (256)
4 star:
 (173)
3 star:
 (159)
2 star:
 (168)
1 star:
 (138)
 
 
 
Used & New from: $1.94
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Wisconsin

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,311,899