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
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
"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)
Byron P. Franklin Jr
the first two acts of the story are very slow but worth it for the final act!
Honestly I was hopeful after watching two episodes of the Syfy series that this book was going to be a more grown up Harry Potter. Instead I get flat characters that seem to do pointless activities, and progress through the program so fast and without meaningful interaction that I can't fathom how any of them have any semblance of magical ability or friends. I love a good swear word, especially when used for effect, in this book however they literally appear for no reason, except I assume to make the book seem more "grown up" which instead makes it feel like a middle school boy edited it. I could not even finish the book, however I did watch the rest of the series on Syfy/Netflix and highly recommend it, granted it also has some sophomoric humor, but better written.
A more well developed and engaging fantasy book
I would have told the story as it appears in the Syfy series.
This book truly is rubbish, I can't believe anyone would listen to the full thing.
captive and interesting, shows that without effort one can't achieve his purpose. really magical the way it works through personnalite.
While it's clear the author can turn a nice phrase, there are few clever moments for a tome this long. The overall world-weary, contemptuous tone of the story didn't strike me as appropriate for this particular college-age crew, who unexpectedly find themselves thrust into a world of wizardry they didn't even know existed. They suddenly find themselves on the grounds of a clone of Hogwarts, the wizarding school in the Harry Potter series. However, this school has NOTHING new to reveal and since the activity in its classes only recount some of the usual tricks with potions, is rather charmless (excuse the pun).
I also found the constant references to the book-within-a-book a bit annoying; I wondered if this book about Fillory was a real literature that I should know about but didn't, and it left me feeling confused and a bit stupid. We are *eventually* (about 75% deep into the book) transported to the places in that book-within-a-book, but for me, it's belated. I was already bored. But I committed to finish...so I continued to the end, but never snapped back out of the boredom, and found no redemption in the ending.
The narrator did not help this long story go any faster. When his tone wasn't sardonic, it was lifeless droning, with little enthusiasm displayed.
I was hoping for a excitement of a new wizarding world being revealed, a la Harry Potter, but alas did not find it here.
I ws already intrigued by the television show, so I had to read the story that it was based on. I enjoyed Mark Bramhalls performance, it was very easy to follow along. I especially like the different tines and inflections he gave, unique to each character.
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