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The Magicians Audiobook

The Magicians: A Novel

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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

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Performance
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  •  
    Luna Max 10-16-14
    Luna Max 10-16-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A boring book about self-involved & shallow people"
    What disappointed you about The Magicians?

    Everything. Fairly strong beginning and then lots and lots and lots of meaningless non-developments and uninteresting characters. Described as "Harry Potter for adults." Not even close. I am giving it up, half way trough. Tries really hard to be imaginative, but it does not succeed. Un exciting read.


    What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?

    Good performance, but cannot save the book.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Big disappointment. Do not bother.


    Any additional comments?

    Banks on an idea that sold well. It's derivative and lacking any substance,

    23 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Bath, Me USA 01-13-16
    Amazon Customer Bath, Me USA 01-13-16 Member Since 2013

    becky1304530

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not for those who like fantasy books"

    So the one highlight of this title was the narrator. I had read some of the reviews and was up for trying something new; a more adult fantasy novel with a more complicated characters and less of the same old cliches. I expected to really delve into complicated characters and explore relationships with the added pressure of magic in the practical world. What I got was the long boring diatribe of a whiny depressed teen. Depression, drinking, sex, and self victimization were the focus of the first half of the book.

    I tired to like this book, I really did. I read other reviews about it being the adult version of Harry Potter and references to how Narnia is so much a part of our cultural heritage that it makes the book work that I thought this would be a huge hit with me. I wasn't looking for a children's book or even good escapist literature, I wanted something meaty to sink my teeth into.

    There are so many places this book could have turned things around. There were hints of something exciting lurking under the surface that would make plodding through the pages and pages of mind numbing pity party the protagonist puts on worth the effort. Over half way through the book I finally had to give up. I was so sick of listening to this brat whine about how hard his life was and how depressed he was even though he had finally gotten what he wanted, a place to fit in, friends who cared about and liked him, a girl who he loved and who loved him back, a college education in magik of all things, and a chance to be anyone he wanted to be. But while I was wishing I was him, he was busy being depressed about it all. Someone needed to force feed this kid some prozac and quick.

    There is sex, an enormous amount of drinking, and swearing in the book so I guess it qualifies as an adult novel, however the story is like listening to a kid whine about how mean his parents are when they only give him an xbox with 2 controls and 50 games instead of 4 controls and 200 games. If you want to listen to a bunch of adolescents whine about how hard they have it, go to your local middle school and spend an hour asking them about how bad they have it and save your money. Of course if you find yourself extremely happy and euphoric and prefer to be miserable, then spend the money and take a listen. It should fix that joy in no time.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LaLa Philadelphia PA 09-18-09
    LaLa Philadelphia PA 09-18-09 Member Since 2014

    Omphaloskepsis

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "satisfying"

    If you are looking for a Harry Potter clone, this is not it. If, you enjoy fantasy novels, but wonder what they would could be with a more realistic point of view, this is a wonderful interpretation that melds classic fantasy tropes with a true reflection of flawed characters in extraordinary circumstances.

    21 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    james Hartselle, AL, United States 05-21-10
    james Hartselle, AL, United States 05-21-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow, then meh, then it ends"

    When I discovered that Lev Grossman is the brother of Austin Grossman (Soon I Will Be Invincible) I was immediately curious to see how their prose compared. It turns out Lev's writing is COMPLETELY different but no less brilliant.
    The first half of this book is amazing. Even though you know there will be revelations they are still surprising and they just keep coming.

    After graduation though, it just plods for a loooong time. It's also around this time that Quentin does something that completely removes any chance of his remaining a sympathetic character. The whole bit in Narnia...um, I mean "Fillory" is much more tedious than the mundane world but maybe that's intentional. Anyway, the ending ties it all together fairly well.

    My biggest complaint involves the drinking. Not the fact that everybody drinks (and believe me they do...HEAVILY...ALL THE TIME), but it's superfluous and pretentious to name all the various drinks as if anybody cares what TYPE of wine they drank way too much of for every single occasion.

    61 of 80 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allen 02-18-17
    Allen 02-18-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "decent story unlikable characters"

    I like the overall idea but good God I was waiting for atleast half the characters to fall off a fucking cliff and just die already especially the main but that may be a failing of my character not the authors

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deadradio 10-07-16
    deadradio 10-07-16 Member Since 2016
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    "A well-written and VERY predictable story"

    The performance is great on this book. I really enjoyed Mark Bramhall.

    The story is weak. Being a fan of every concept of the book I really really wanted to like this. However, the story is painfully predictable. I was really hoping for some twist or plot device that would make it come alive, however the author does not provide one.

    The character development is among the worst I have read. We are following the story of Quentin over the course of what 3 or 4 years from about the age of 18. Teenagers have a tendency to mature after about 5 years and going through college (maybe not a lot, but some). Quentin may be the first teenager who doesn't, perhaps he has a disability. Quentin's character is a self absorbed prattling misogynist. After going through all the struggles during the book the boy he learns absolutely nothing and like a teenager rages like a kid in the conclusion of the epic battle scene. An this is our hero... So let's turn to our supporting characters. Nope ... there is not one likeable character in the entire book.

    Every story does not need to be an epic fairytale, however one would like to have at least one character that you hope to succeed. As it stands, I was hoping that every character in this book gets wiped out.

    Save your book credits.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mandy Mosier 10-01-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Please do not compare this to Harry Potter"
    What would have made The Magicians better?

    I bought this because it was on some "If you like Harry Potter" list. No. Not even a little bit. I can't even finish it.


    What three words best describe Mark Bramhall’s performance?

    This was the only bright spot. He did a very good job.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traci Gagnon 09-27-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not worth your time!"

    I really struggled to finish this one! The writing is over the top trying to hard to use big words and crude references just for the sake of using them. The entire book was forced and the obvious desire to be like Rowling, Lewis and even Lucas was pitiful.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maddie 02-27-16
    Maddie 02-27-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "First time the show has a thicker plot than the book"

    This book starts off slow, has moments of great writing but refuses to take off with it.

    I feel like Grossman keeps telling us how brilliant these characters are and expects us (the readers) to believe it without a shred of evidence in the story.

    The characters go through the riggers of the plot and don't show any signs of growth.

    I enjoyed the audio version, it was well read. Bramhall has a soothing and consistent voice throughout. I would only argue his voice for "Josh" doesn't match the character in the story.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Colorado 01-11-15
    Keith Colorado 01-11-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I tried to like this book ..."

    .... I really did. I listened to 9 hours, waiting and hoping for it to get better, it just never did. This must be the most mundane, unimaginative, slow-paced book I have ever read or listened to.
    The characters and story are completely unoriginal, and if that were the only offense here, I would have tried to finish. But somehow Mr. Grossman took forgettable characters with a storyline copied straight out of and set out to make it the most blase', mind-numbing story possible.
    I really do not like writing bad reviews, I mean one man's junk ... right? But I decided to post this review in hopes to save someone else's 9 hours ... I strongly recommend passing on this title.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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