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)
The book had potential, but the story was rushed and an overall lack of detail and character building made it seem more like I was listening to bullet points used to write a story instead of an actual story.
I got this book after watching the made for television version "The Magicians". Of course the book was better!! Of course the TV series doesn't flow or it has stuff that wasn't in the book. Don't be stupid! Get this book to listen an outstanding performance by Mark Bramhall. Then watch the TV series on Amazon prime to have fun and to stop being such a stuck up little pill.
i have to say, the author is some kind of horrible literary genius. i couldn't put the story down, while simultaneously hating the story the whole time, and hung in a perpetual state of constantly waiting for the actual story to happen. which is the very story itself. how on earth the author manages to write a story that compels you to finish it while making you hate it for being so horribly real is beyond me. but i guess that's why I'm not an author and they are.
if ever there were a book about privileged millenials adulting and trying to hack some kind of meaning for their lives as technological offspring, this is probably it.
This performance should come with a warning that Mark Bramhall pronounces the "h" sound very hard when speaking words that start with "wh". It's really grating.
This book is so boring, and the characters are so unlikeable that I have no desire to listen to the last two hours of the story. I don't care if they find a crown or do something remarkable eventually. What would have made this book better? A plot line that didn't rely on children's fantasy literature -- think of your own, Grossman.
His voice reminds me of Crispin Glover. I enjoyed that.
All of them.
If like me, you were curious about this series after watching the Magician's series. Let me offer a few observations. The TV program presents Breakbills as graduate school, and the characters are young adults.The alcohol, drug use and hedonism seems appropriate. In the book, the characters are fresh out of high school, full of angst, self loathing and self importance. Their aloofness and general ennui comes off as a bit annoying.
Sadly, I must admit the TV series is more satisfying. TV writers were no doubt drawing, and expanding from on all three books. The end result is a much richer world build. I was hoping the book would back fill a few of the details, but rather it a lot of time focusing on the characters whining and fighting over stuff teens find really important.
The book does resolve the TV program's main cliff hanger, to a point...but it does not go into any detail with Julia's story line.
I'll eventually get the second and third book in the series, but I am more looking forward to season two of the TV program next year.
Loved the story. Mark Bramhall is great with character voices. Excited about the next book!
2004 Audible listener
I read so many excellent reviews about this book and in the beginning it was interesting. Mid-way through however, it devolved into a truculant teenager's whine about the cruelty of life not living up to his expectations. Too bad the book got lost in Q's ravings.
I have spent enough time on this book, so I will keep it short.
If you liked the Narnia books and have any moral character you won't appreciate this book. it's a twisted, shallow, Narnia knock off.
Imagine that Edmund Pevensie never went to Narnia (In this book, it's Fillory). He went off to college as the same sullen, entitled, jealous, boring brat he was in his youth, but he got recruited to go to a magical college (Think Hogwarts for entitled snowflake millenials, who are in the upper 5%, but make themselves feel better by hating the 1%). He meets other self absorbed fledgling adults, who are just as pathetic he is. Their lives have no meaning whatsoever and they become magical people with no meaning. They even angrily rejected any attempts at anything above the shallow. In fact there is a whole chapter dedicated to introducing a Christian character, who feels he has purpose, just so they could hate on him and bash him. The author is also delighted to pick apart the Aslan type character (straight up knock off) and then kill him.
They do not grow as people in any way, shape, or form. The main character mopes his way through life like Kirsten Stewart in Twilight. Honestly, this book tells you more about the hollow condition of the author's heart than anything else. I hope he finds something more.
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