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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 (2990 )
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4.1 (2230 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Benjamin 10-18-13
    Benjamin 10-18-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow start great finish"
    Would you listen to The Magicians again? Why?

    I would read it again but for anyone who is looking to read this for the first time. Please give it time. it does start off slow.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MJF 04-11-13
    MJF 04-11-13 Member Since 2012

    mjf

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Purchased on Reccomendation"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The book is too long. By the time the childen graduate from school, they are selfish and annoying. Every charater is unrelatable and annoying.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Nope.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan HAMPTON, VA, United States 04-03-13
    Dan HAMPTON, VA, United States 04-03-13 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Full of Cliches"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Probably not as I think it lacks the excitement that it could have had and dwells on the main character's feeling and emotions too much to be interesting. the writing is dull and the author uses the "F" bomb too much. It really doesn't add to the story. The characters seem to be in a drunken stupor at every turn. The author seems to condone the drinking as well as sex at every turn. The book appears targeted at young adults, but gives them a jaundiced view of sex and drugs.


    What could Lev Grossman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Leave out the "F" word and sex and drugs. They really don't add to the story at all.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Mark Bramhall?

    Yes


    Do you think The Magicians needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    NO, see above comments.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Mountain View, CA, United States 03-25-13
    Kathryn Mountain View, CA, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    356
    21
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Part Fairy Tale, Part Nightmare"

    Here is a group of bored and spoiled kids looking for the next thrill. After each adventure, they think they have finally found happiness but the euphoria does not last for long. There are Narnia type adventures but frankly, I think Harry Potter has a better grasp of reality and better moral compass than they do. I wanted to stop reading the book during the middle third but my interest picked up after that especially after meeting Chatwin. Like gamblers, the group will always be looking for the next thrill. This book will not be one of my favorites.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kay Allen, Texas, United States 01-28-13
    Kay Allen, Texas, United States 01-28-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    242
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "A Waste of Time!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    No One.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Lev Grossman again?

    No


    Which scene was your favorite?

    None


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Magicians?

    All


    Any additional comments?

    This book is a cross between Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. Sadly done at that.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annissa 05-16-12
    Annissa 05-16-12 Member Since 2012

    Married. Mother. Student. Full-time job. 33 years old. Doctor Who fanatic. Not necessarily in that order.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    55
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    80
    25
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    8
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    "The Unholy Love Child of Lewis and Rowling"

    If you're looking for a book that feels like The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter had a baby that grows up, goes to college, becomes a bitter, disaffected Millennial, then goes on an adventure, this is for you.

    Despite that description, I really enjoyed this book. It took a while to get into, but when it finally started clicking, it held my interest for the remaining 16 hours. And that's saying quite a lot for a book in which the very loose plotline takes the majority of book to present itself. Most of the book feels like a series of events that have nothing to do with one another, but it builds beautifully to a climax that feels real, and scary, and significant.

    The length of the book gives the author the opportunity to truly flesh out the characters. These characters feel real, and that's the highest praise I can give any author.

    There were a few things that I didn't enjoy. Firstly, while the characters are fully-formed, they're deeply flawed and not particularly likable. I was engrossed in the story, but I didn't relate to any of the characters. This made it impossible to empathize with them in their darkest moments. Secondly, the author sometimes talks about one character's "Oregonian" accent, once even calling it "exaggerated." As someone who speaks with the same non-regional American dialect people from Oregon use, I can't even begin to imagine what this sounds like. These complaints didn't keep me from enjoying the book, but it is keeping me from giving it a five-star rating.

    Mark Bramhall does a superb job with the narration. Each character has a distinct voice and Mr. Bramhall's dark delivery sets the appropriate tone for the story.

    As I said in the first paragraph, this book evokes images from The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, but this is not a children's book. The characters use foul language and there are depictions of sex, albeit none very graphic.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Will United States 04-26-12
    Will United States 04-26-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
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    "Adult Narnia meets Harry Potter"

    First off, there were definitely corny sections of this book. However, it kept my interest and the story is very creative. I was not a big fan of any particular character and some were annoying at times. But like I said, the storyline was enough to keep me listening.

    Interesting sidenote: I have heard the sequel is better.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Pittsburgh, PA, United States 04-18-12
    Joseph Pittsburgh, PA, United States 04-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    9
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    "A new favorite since Harry potter"
    What did you love best about The Magicians?

    The story it self. It was realistic and made the world of magic seem as hard as real life.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Elliot was my favorite character.


    Have you listened to any of Mark Bramhall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No but he is great.


    If you could rename The Magicians, what would you call it?

    The true life of a magician.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Collin Santos Salt Lake City, Utah 04-17-12
    Collin Santos Salt Lake City, Utah 04-17-12

    Graphic Scientist

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Got me through a marathon."
    Would you listen to The Magicians again? Why?

    Probably wouldn't listen again, just because once I have heard a story I'm done. But if I was on a trip with my wife, would listen again.


    What other book might you compare The Magicians to and why?

    Imagine Harry Potter and the Pevensy kids from Narnia go to college and have grown-up times.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. M. Timmer San Antonio, Texas 04-16-12
    A. M. Timmer San Antonio, Texas 04-16-12 Member Since 2011

    Spastic Phantom

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Decent story, decently performed."

    I started this story with a completely open mind. While I have read The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series, I didn't expect The Magicians to be like either of them. It turned out to be a darkly cynical, mostly-depressed evolution of both. The story is well written, and most of the characters are well-rounded and likable. Quentin, the main character, was not. I have never disliked a protagonist quite as much as he. Twice I stopped listening to the tale for over a week, just because I didn't care what happened. Q had gone and f*@ked it up again, and I refused to continue listening to his angst and inner turmoil. What brought me back was how much I DID care about the others, Elliot, Janet, Josh, and especially Alice. Shy little Alice was by far the best character in the story. Overall, I'm glad I finished the book, and I am downloading Book 2 as I write. The ending was good enough for me to forgive Quentin and look forward to his continuing adventures, wherever they may take him.

    Mr. Bramhall does an excellent job in his nartration. Each character has a distincive voice, and none become charicatures of who they are supposed to be. He does read just a tad on the slow side, but playing it at 1.5X speed moves things along nicely. I am very glad that he continues to narrate the second book as well. Nothing throws you off a series like switching narrators between books.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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