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)
Gets weird near the end. I liked the beginning but When the taking animals and walking trees come into it... Really?
The Magicians is quite a unique and interesting spin to fantasy. Halfway through the book I wasn't sure if I wanted to return it and get my money back or buy book 2. In the end I loved it and I'm starting on book #2 now.
It's not "Harry Potter for adults", but I can definitely see how people want to relate it to that. It delves into the mind of a depressed individual, as he struggles to find happiness while learning magic, falling in love, and living out his childhood dream. I can understand how this can be a turn off for some, but for me it was quite enjoyable. At times the book seemed to turn into nothing but drinking, sex and relationship troubles (which started to turn me off) but this worked into the complete story perfectly.
As a big Narnia fan as a kid (heck I'm still a Narnia fan) I really enjoyed the approach this book took....taking a new look at a forgotten world.
Also, the narrator Mark Bramhall did a wonderful job. He's right up there with Michael Kramer in my book.
Mark Bramhall is a magician himself as he narrates this story. At once comedic, hair-raising, and heartbreaking, the journey through Brakebills and to Fillory and back is exhilarating and nothing short of brilliance. Lev Grossman has created a fantastical masterpiece and Mark Bramhall breathes fire into every syllable on each page. A travesty if you miss it. Utterly gorgeous.
This book has absolutely no plot, slow, boring, and terribly lame characters with a uncomfortable homosexual identity crises. It takes the author the entire book to build up for about two chapters that are really the entire book, you would be much happier just reading the ending or skipping this book completely.
Definitely top three. I got it on a whim when I first opened a Spotify account and couldn't be happier.
Finding out who the bad guy is and finding out who the watcher woman is. I kind of expected the watcher woman but I did not expect the bad guy twist.
As cliché as it sounds, his voice is captivating. It's like velvet almost. It ensnares you ears and mind and he puts so much emotion there. I also enjoy how he alters his voice slightly between characters, very helpful.
Darkly humorous and thought provoking.
Definitely not a book I'd recommend for children as there are several parts of violence, sex and gore.
This book was a bit tedious at times and I did stop listening for a few months, before intriguing spoilers from the tv series caused me to want to finish it. I'm glad that I finished it and I found the last half to be more entertaining than the first. Quentin is an insufferable character at times, but ultimately realistic. I will be listening to the next book in the series.
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