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The Magicians: A Novel | [Lev Grossman]

The Magicians: A Novel

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Intellectually gifted but emotionally unfulfilled, Quentin Coldwater is as much at sea as any high school senior. He still takes refuge in the fantasy novel series he read as a kid, waiting for happiness to fall in his lap. Surprisingly, it does indeed seem to when an elite and secret college of magic recruits him. Mark Brahmall wonderfully inflects the gaggle of fallible little geniuses Quentin grows up with there: Elliott the flaming drunkard, Janet the flashy attention hog, Alice the wallflower, Josh the bumbling frat boy, and Penny the punk rocker. This is not the nice and polite world of Hogwarts. These 17-year-olds spend five years drinking, screwing, cursing, and occasionally buckling down to work with spells that sound more like chemistry labs than fantastic miracles.

Magic is hard, and growing up proves even harder. Brahmall ages this group of would-be adventurers, gradually inserting the pessimistic uncertainty that creeps in as their graduation approaches, and then the slovenly vulgarity that accompanies their post-grad malaise in New York. But their voices find fresh purpose and energy when Penny discovers that Fillory, the magical land of those books from their youth, is real. Fraught with the tensions sprouting between them, each member of Quentin's posse has reasons to escape into Fillory. Brahmall gives voice to everything from a birch tree to an ancient ram, as the group's quest for a brighter future turns ever more ugly and alarming. Quentin's once idyllic dream now corrupted, he struggles to regain a sense of self and return to the more banal hostilities of the real world.

This is a story narrated with all the wonderment and gravitas inherent in the great tradition of magical coming-of-age tales, to be sure, but it rests firmly on the rocky foundations of a realistic human volatility and longing that may want to keep the characters snatching defeat from the jaws of victory to their bitter end. This world is nothing like Narnia or Middle Earth, and listeners with knowledge of those places will find plenty of insider references here to keep them laughing through the disasters. Grossman has captured a shamefully universal set of psychological quandaries, and Brahmall has expressed them in tones that are terrifyingly recognizable. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

A thrilling and original coming-of- age novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world.

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin's fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren't black and white, love and sex aren't simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.

©2009 Lev Grossman; (P)2009 Penguin

What the Critics Say

"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)
"Provocative, unput-downable....one of the best fantasies I've read in ages." (Fantasy & Science Fiction)
"The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea." (George R.R. Martin)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (3640 )
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4.1 (2816 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sean 07-30-10
    Sean 07-30-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "A "Coming of Age" book, for the misunderstood"

    I say this because, I grow up feeling a bit outside of the norm. It is a bit of humor that I am a working Magician myself today, but that is nether here or there. The book tells of a young adult who himself feels like an outsider to life. The story grows as he finds friends like him, learns what love is and how it can feel in its lost. Wrapped up in the middle of this this he learns the would of Magicians, and how to become one himself. I do not try to kid anyone to say this is a young adult book. There is a bit of "adult" parts, but it is not over the top as some writers have done. (I would say it is close to the level Robert Patterson has used in some of his books.) There is lots of twist and turns in the book to keep you wanting more. Give it a try and you might surprise yourself.

    I will also say this. There better be more books to come. I want to read more about this world of Magicians.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxane RIO RANCHO, NM, United States 06-17-10
    Roxane RIO RANCHO, NM, United States 06-17-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    18
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    Overall
    "Huge disappointment"

    I got this one because I fell for the puffery likening it to "Harry Potter Goes to College."

    Not even close.

    I gave it two stars because the fictive world that Grossman created was rather appealing, though it owed a bit much to C.S. Lewis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Davis, CA, United States 05-17-10
    David Davis, CA, United States 05-17-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing, joyless imitation of Harry Potter"

    If literary authors want to dabble in genre fiction, they should have some respect for the genre; I felt like Grossman was sneering at Harry Potter and Narnia fans with the way he carefully copied almost every aspect of both worlds, and then sucked all the joy and wonder out of them. He gave us a bunch of "realistic" teenage magicians, which is to say, selfish, depressing, whiny, and mean. This would have been fine if we saw character growth and some sort of redeeming quality by the end, but we don't.

    There is some decent writing and worldbuilding here, but the story is bleak and pointless, and never once did I find myself caring about any of the characters. The narration was okay -- Mark Bramhall did give each character a distinct voice that helped me remember who was who when I didn't really care.

    This is a book for people who think themselves "above" reading fantasy, especially YA fantasy, not for people who actually enjoy it, whom I suspect Grossman thinks of as unsophisticated chumps.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Schenectady, NY, United States 02-16-10
    Wayne Schenectady, NY, United States 02-16-10 Member Since 2008

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
    8
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    Overall
    "This was just bad."

    I will not mention that this is not a kids book, other have. What I will say is that what started out slow but interesting got very graphic and died somewhere about the 4 hour. I could not finish it. I did like the narration but the story was just bad. Save your credit.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex ojai, CA, USA 01-09-10
    Alex ojai, CA, USA 01-09-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    6
    2
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    1
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    "i couldn't even finish it..."

    This book, the writing, the characters...I couldn't even bring myself to finish listening. I stopped a couple hours in. The characters got confusing because the author did not make me care enough to concentrate on any of them.

    Not worth your credits!

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Holbrook, NY, USA 12-05-09
    John Holbrook, NY, USA 12-05-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    6
    2
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    "Don't waste your time or money"

    Not worth listing too. It's like Harry Potter has a pitty party in Narnia. I never have written a review on any book wheather I liked them or not. This one was so bad I had to make an exception in hopes of helping others avoid wasting their time and money.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marin Queen Creek, AZ, USA 10-19-09
    Marin Queen Creek, AZ, USA 10-19-09 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    4
    1
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    Overall
    "Self pity self pity"

    This books goes from very interesting, to a pity party so full self loathing I was glad i wasn't reading but listening on my commute. The end portion of the book was slightly redeeming. Ultimately this book is not much of a fantasy book, but more of a self introspection of a person that cant find happiness anywhere. I compare this book to a meth head harry potter wandering into narnia without the charm and magic of either book.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BooBunny 10-11-09
    BooBunny 10-11-09 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    6
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Enjoyable but didn't like the ending..."

    I probably should've written this review right after I read this book, but I'll do my best.

    I thought this book was a great story and had great character development. I thought the pace was well set and thought the story, although borrowed from other books, was imaginative and entertaining. I was disappointed by the end. I thought it could've been better and was disappointed the way it left off, but I would still recommend it.

    I thought the narrator did a great job. He was not distracting in the least in my opinion and I can't remember anything negative to report. I didn't think he was amazing, but also not distracting which is the most important thing!!

    Over all, I thought it was pretty good... Not amazing, not terrible, just pretty good...

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lesley Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada 10-02-09
    Lesley Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada 10-02-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    3
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    0
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    Overall
    "Not for Kids"

    I was suprised at the beginning when it was introduced as Audible for kids since I wasn't expecting a childrens book, however it turned out NOT to be for kids. The book moves from the story of students at school to a much more mature theme as the book developes. It was a great to listen to and always left me wondering what was going to happen next.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Louisville, KY, USA 09-30-09
    John Louisville, KY, USA 09-30-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Loved it"

    First off I agree, this is definitely not for kids. Other than that, I truly loved this book. I loved everything about it. I could hardly put it down. I would highly recommend it.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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