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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

3.8 (3918 )
5 star
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4.1 (3042 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Claire Wofford Edgerton, OH 09-12-11
    Claire Wofford Edgerton, OH 09-12-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
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    52
    13
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    2
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    Story
    "BORING!!!!"

    It was very painful to finish listening to the book! The whole book is a lead in to the final chapters, which is where it starts to get good...but then it ends and it's over....not really worth the time if you ask me

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Iola 09-07-11
    Iola 09-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    184
    11
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    "I was not impressed"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I have to say that I was not that impressed with The Magician, I found part 1 and most of part two (which I fast forwarded to the last two hours) a little silly. The plot wasn’t that great not what I would expect from this genre it seemed that most of the book was filler material until you got to the very end of the story then it became interesting. The narrator does a great job, a presentation that helped me get to the end of The Magician and look forward to The Magician King to see how it all pan out.



    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It saved this story


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

    No


    Did The Magicians inspire you to do anything?

    Look forward to The Magacian King to see what is on the horizon


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Forsberg Chicago, IL USA 09-06-11
    J. Forsberg Chicago, IL USA 09-06-11 Member Since 2008

    cuatrista

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not Narnia"

    Wow. If you grew up loving childhood fantasies like Narnia and other Anglo-phile Classics you might want to skip this one. On the other hand, if you are angry and frustrated and bitter because real life isn't a bit like Narnia or Middle Earth or Harry Potter then you'll probably find this book hilarious. I found it tedious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keisha 09-02-11
    Keisha 09-02-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    451
    45
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    7
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    "I loved the possibility . . ."

    I loved the possibility of what this book could have been. Don't get me wrong, it was good but like another reviewer pointed out there were storylines that seemed significant that were never explored. The outline was great but the execution could have been so much more powerful in my opinion. I bought the Magician King first not realizing it was a series. I quickly put it down and started part one however now I'm not so interested in resuming part two. I'll give it a go soon I guess.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Sampson 08-29-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    45
    9
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    1
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    "Hopeless and depressing"

    If you enjoyed Lewis, Tolkien, Bujold or George RR Martin you will not enjoy this book. Not one character has a shred of honor or decency. They are self-centered, depressed and depressing. One truth shared early on is that great power and unlimited resources given to people with no moral grounding does not make those people happy and is dangerous to everyone around them. I wish I had stopped when I got that point. I stubbornly persevered hoping it would get better. It doesn't. If reading about self-destructive, miserable, shallow characters is enjoyable for you by all means embark on this book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alaina CINCINNATI, OH, United States 08-29-11
    Alaina CINCINNATI, OH, United States 08-29-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "No Harry Potter"

    If Harry Potter was an adult book then maybe it would be somewhat like this story. The story starts out slow and you are constantly waiting for the Plot to begin. Nothing really exciting happens till the book is half way over. It's not till they find their storybook world Fillory witch sounds a lot like Narnia that the story gets very interesting. Once you get to that part you won't want to stop listening. I don't care too much for the Narrator because he gets boring sometimes but if you can stick it out you won't be disappointed. There is bad language, adult situations, drug and alcohol use and violence in this book so don't listen if you don't like those kinds of things.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Aberdeen, WA, United States 08-29-11
    Jim Aberdeen, WA, United States 08-29-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
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    121
    4
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    "Disapointed"

    You can pretty much skip the first half of the book and not miss to much. I was very disapointed in this book.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander granite bay, CA, United States 08-25-11
    Alexander granite bay, CA, United States 08-25-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "harry potter grew up to be a depressive alchoholic"

    starts out well enough but the constant moaning of the main character really got on my nerves.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle WYLIE, TX, United States 08-15-11
    Michelle WYLIE, TX, United States 08-15-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Meh"

    As a fan of both Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, I thought I would enjoy this much more than I did. I can't bring myself to finish it. There is a fine line between being inspired by a concept and ripping it off and this story crosses it. I may have enjoyed this more if it was a different narrator...Mark Brahmall definitely did not add anything to the telling of the story...instead it just put me to sleep.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica 09-29-10
    Monica 09-29-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
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    168
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    "Less Than Zero meets Potter & Narnia"

    I have mixed feelings about Magicians. I like the IDEA of it, but perhaps it was too stark and depressing for me. I felt like it had the futileness of "Less Than Zero" in a Harry Potter and Narnia framework. Maybe the book was too long (in the middle I wondered, What's the point?). But I liked it enough to give the sequel a listen when it comes out. I cautiously recommend (but NOT for kids!).

    The narration was adequate.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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