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)
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.
The book is too long. By the time the childen graduate from school, they are selfish and annoying. Every charater is unrelatable and annoying.
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.
Leave out the "F" word and sex and drugs. They really don't add to the story at all.
NO, see above comments.
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.
This book is a cross between Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. Sadly done at that.
Married. Mother. Student. Full-time job. 33 years old. Doctor Who fanatic. Not necessarily in that order.
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.
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.
The story it self. It was realistic and made the world of magic seem as hard as real life.
Elliot was my favorite character.
No but he is great.
The true life of a magician.
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.
Imagine Harry Potter and the Pevensy kids from Narnia go to college and have grown-up times.
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.
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