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The Magicians: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy) Paperback – May 25, 2010
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“The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. Solidly rooted in the traditions of both fantasy and mainstream literary fiction, the novel tips its hat to Oz and Narnia as well to Harry, but don’t mistake this for a children's book. Grossman’s sensibilities are thoroughly adult, his narrative dark and dangerous and full of twists. Hogwarts was never like this.”
—George R. R. Martin, bestselling author of A Game of Thrones
“This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels in order to upend them, and tell a darkly cunning story about the power of imagination itself. [The Magicians is] an unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story.”
—The New Yorker
“Sad, hilarious, beautiful, and essential to anyone who cares about modern fantasy.”
—Joe Hill, author of Horns and Locke & Key
“If you like the Harry Potter books . . . you should also read Lev Grossman’s Magicians series, which is a very knowing and wonderful take on the wizard school genre.”
—John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars
—William Gibson, author of Neuromancer
“Most people will like this book. But there’s a certain type of reader who will enjoy it down to the bottoms of their feet.”
—Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind
“Lev Grossman’s novel The Magicians may just be the most subversive, gripping, and enchanting fantasy novel I’ve read this century. . . . Grossman is a hell of a pacer, and the book rips along, whole seasons tossed out in a single sentence, all the boring mortar ground off the bricks, so that the book comes across as a sheer, seamless face that you can’t stop yourself from tumbling down once you launch yourself off the first page. This isn’t just an exercise in exploring what we love about fantasy and the lies we tell ourselves about it—it’s a shit-kicking, gripping, tightly plotted novel that makes you want to take the afternoon off work to finish it.”
—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“Fresh and compelling. . . . The Magicians is a great fairy tale, written for grown-ups but appealing to our most basic desires for stories to bring about some re-enchantment with the world, where monsters lurk but where a young man with a little magic may prevail.”
“The Magicians is original . . . slyly funny.”
“Lev Grossman’s playful fantasy novel The Magicians pays homage to a variety of sources . . . with such verve and ease that you quickly forget the references and lose yourself in the story.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“The novel manages a literary magic trick: it’s both an enchantingly written fantasy and a moving deconstruction of enchantingly realized fantasies.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Intriguing, coming-of-age fantasy”
—Boston Globe (Pick of the Week)
“I felt like I was poppin’ peyote buttons with J. K. Rowling when I was reading Lev Grossman’s new novel The Magicians. . . . I couldn’t put it down.”
—Mickey Rapkin, GQ
“Sly and lyrical, [The Magicians] captures the magic of childhood and the sobering years beyond.”
“Through sheer storytelling grace and imaginative power, Lev Grossman [creates] an adventure that’s both enthralling and mature.”
“Mixing the magic of the most 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 The Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grown-ups. [It] breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know . . . and does what [some] claim 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.”
“The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a very entertaining book; one of those summer page-turners that you wish went on for another six volumes. Grossman takes a good number of the best childhood fantasy books from the last seventy-five years and distills their ability to fascinate into the fan-boy mind of his protagonist, Quentin Coldwater. . . . There is no doubt that this book is inventive storytelling and Grossman is at the height of his powers.”
“An irresistible storytelling momentum makes The Magicians a great summer book, both thoughtful and enchanting.”
“Grossman skillfully moves us through four years of school and a postgraduate adventure, never letting the pace slacken . . . beguiling.”
“Stirring, complex, adventurous . . . from the life of Quentin Coldwater, his slacker Park Slope Harry Potter, Lev Grossman delivers superb coming of age fantasy.”
—Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“The Magicians ought to be required reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with a fantasy series, or wished that they went to a school for wizards. Lev Grossman has written a terrific, at times almost painfully perceptive novel of the fantastic that brings to mind both Jay McInerney and J. K. Rowling.”
—Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen
“Fantasy fans can’t afford to miss the darkly comic and unforgettably queasy experience of reading this book—and be glad for reality.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)
“This is a book for grown-up fans of children’s fantasy and would appeal to those who loved Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Very dark and very scary, with no simple answers provided—fantasy for grown-ups, in other words, and very satisfying indeed.”
“Anyone who grew up reading about magical wardrobes and unicorns and talking trees before graduating to Less Than Zero and The Secret History and Bright Lights, Big City will immediately feel right at home with this smart, beautifully written book by Lev Grossman. The Magicians is fantastic, in all senses of the word. It’s strange, fanciful, extravagant, eccentric, and truly remarkable—a great story, masterfully told.”
—Scott Smith, bestselling author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan
“The Magicians is a spellbinding, fast-moving, dark fantasy book for grownups that feels like an instant classic. I read it in a niffin-blue blaze of page turning, enthralled by Grossman’s verbal and imaginative wizardry, his complex characters, and, most of all, his superb, brilliant inquiry into the wondrous, dangerous world of magic.”
—Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner award winning author of The Great Man and The Epicure's Lament
“Remember the last time you ran home to finish a book? This is it, folks. The Magicians is the most dazzling, erudite, and thoughtful fantasy novel to date. You’ll be bedazzled by the magic but also brought short by what it has to sayabout the world we live in.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook
“The Magicians brilliantly explores the hidden underbelly of fantasy and easy magic, taking what’s simple on the surface and turning it over to show us the complicated writhing mess beneath. It’s like seeing the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter through a 3-D magnifying glass.”
—Naomi Novik, author of His Majesty’s Dragon
About the Author
LEV GROSSMAN is the book critic for Time magazine and author of five novels, including the international bestseller Codex and the #1 New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.
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I subtitled the Syfy Channel series “Harry Potter on Steroids,” but quite honestly, magic is the only similarity between the two series. Author Lev Grossman’s book is a darker, more intensive look at the world of magic and those who inhabit it. Readers only spend about half the book at Quentin’s school, Brakebills, with the rest of the book focusing on the quest? mystery? that Mr. Grossman teases us with through the beginning sections.
Characterizations are one of the highlights. Hardly any of what you might refer to as the “good” characters are nice people. Actually, they are all-too-human, and we see all their warts and imperfections. Quentin Coldwater is an interesting character. While it is possible at times to identify with him, at other moments it is almost impossible not to act on the desire to give him a good thrashing. By the end of the book, the author has done such a wonderful job with all the main characters – Quentin, Alice, Jane, Eliot, and even Josh – that readers may feel these are old friends they’ve known for years.
Mr. Grossman deftly weaves the different plotlines in an intricate mix, effortlessly blending the various side stories and neatly wrapping everything together by the story’s end. What could easily have been just another story of a magical person at a magical school who battles magical evil people has been transformed into a story that focuses on Quentin and his struggle to discover what, if anything, will make him truly happy. That magic and a fantastic story has been wrapped around Quentin’s tale only makes the book that much better. While some may find the adult language offensive, I thought it was essential to the realism and characterizations.
“The Magicians” combines all the essentials – plot, characters, and just plain old good writing – into one of those special books. It is not magic, yet there is something magical that compels me to purchase the next two books in the series. Five stars.
Don’t expect an original plot for it borrows so heavily from the C.S. Lewis’s story “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” that you would think it a sequel with new characters. Take the major outline of Lewis’s story, mixed a bag full of magicians into it, shake it, and re-title it “The Magicians” and you pretty much have it.
Enjoy it for what it is.
Enjoy it for what it is.