The Magicians

A Novel
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Series: The Magicians, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 24 mins
4.1 out of 5 stars (18,640 ratings)

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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

Critic Reviews

"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 listeners say about The Magicians

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    8,666
  • 4 Stars
    5,700
  • 3 Stars
    2,682
  • 2 Stars
    982
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Performance
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  • 3 Stars
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    7,436
  • 4 Stars
    4,736
  • 3 Stars
    2,588
  • 2 Stars
    1,024
  • 1 Stars
    750

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Not an average book

The thing to know about this book is that it is not a 3.5 star book with a so-so plot and a so-so narrator. It is either a five star book or a two star book, depending on the listener. After reading the reviews, I went into this book with trepidation, but I am so glad that I did! I thought it was a fantastic read. I can't wait for the sequel.

The author does rely heavily on the fact that much of his listening audience will have had exposure to the Chronicles of Narnia as children. I think this is a useful plot device, not stealing nor sneering at Narnia. Without Narnia's influence on the listeners, this book wouldn't work at all. It is because the Chronicles of Narnia are embedded in our psyche that we can understand the main characters and why things go so totally wrong for them.

Fundamentally, this is a dark coming of age story with plenty of humor and a touch of horror. If that does not appeal to you on any level, you will hate this book from start to finish. I think everyone else should give this book a try.

239 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Confused

I admit, I watched the show first (and I loved it), so I figured the book/s would have to be pretty good as well. Well... it just wasn’t. The characters were not nearly as complex, the dialogue wasn’t as clever, the plot seemed to plod instead of unfold. Not to mention, Q is not only a pathetic character — he’s not even nice. At least in the show, he had some redeeming qualities - charm, humor, values, and even valor. In the book, he’s snotty, privileged, and he never stops complaining (in the show, they follow other plot lines to give the viewer a break, at least). Sure, he’s depressed, but whining doesn’t make for literature, especially if you can’t find new ways to complain about the same thing. On top of all this, the other characters treat each other like crap — not in an interesting and compelling manner. They’re just petty. And the cherry on top is the “nice guy” motif. This would’ve played a few years ago, but these days, not so much. Just because you’re awkward doesn’t mean you’re nice. Being a coward doesn’t make you a pacifist, either. It’d be one thing if Grossman used all this as a means of character development, but instead you’re left with the same soppy, wet towel of a protagonist by the end. Maybe soppier. The book had its parts. I did finish it after all. It’s just disappointing. The performance itself was great.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A book more about people than magic

Even though this book has the trappings of fantasy fiction, the best gauge of whether or not you will like it has more to do with whether or not you like writers like Michael Chabon. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this novel is what would have happened if Chabon had written the Harry Potter series. Think of it as The Chronicles of Narnia mashed up with The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Characters screw up, screw around, and generally flounder through messy, complicated lives. Heroes turn out to be losers; losers turn out to be heroes. The gains and losses of trust, love, and faith between the characters is far more important to this book than the details of a magical world.

Even so, the book does have a magical world, along with fantastic creatures and a well-crafted, driving plot. My only complaint along those lines is that the pace sometimes clipped along rather TOO quickly, especially at the beginning. Quentin's whole five-year academic career passes in under 100 pages; those readers looking for something like Harry Potter's quirkily detailed mundane-but-fantastical school days will be disappointed. This is a book about people, not magic.



This is not a book for children; neither is it for escapists. But that doesn't mean it is a depressing or mean-spirited book: the characters' revelations (like those of David Copperfield, Elizabeth Bennett, or T. S. Garp) are hard-won and compromised by the losses they endured to achieve them, but they are genuine revelations, and the book is overall a hopeful one.

124 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Uncaptivating, despite a magical backdrop

I had heard good things about this series so I was eager to give it a read, but the book slogged and seemed to go on far longer than necessary. I don't need to have likable characters to enjoy a book, but this was filled with such drab, familiar characters that it didn't keep my attention.

I thought the world was well-built, but served only as a reminder of the books depressing point: cynical, uninteresting people will be cynical and uninterested wherever they find themselves.

The narration was totally fine, but not memorable. Didn't lose anything by listening to it rather than reading, but didn't gain much either.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing. Wonderfully narrated.

Brahmall's narration is spot-on in this absolute masterpiece of modern, literate fantasy. Comparisons to "Harry Potter for adults" don't begin to capture the depth and reality of this book. It owes more to The Once and Future King and acts more as a discomplement of Narnia than it alludes to Harry Potter, though indeed the book occurs in our present world, a world where all of these books exist. Quentin is an honestly voiced character throughout, growing though a middle class high-performance student upbringing, to bit by bit coming to terms with his adulthood, his powers, his mistakes, and himself. This is a book about finally growing up, about self-realization, about love and loss and longing, and yes, about magic. And Grossman's prose is wonderful, the story true, never saccharine, and, again, Brahmall's appropriately at-times dry, at-times tender, well-characterized narration is a delight, capturing the tone and spirit of the book and its characters. I can't really recommend this book enough; definitely one of the top 10 genre novels of the 2000s, perhaps the very best in its subgenre, facing competition only from Perdido Street Station, Finch, and American Gods. (For more taste comparisons, my other picks from the decade in other subgenres are: R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before, Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, etc.) If you haven't read the book, or perhaps even if you have, enjoy these 17 and a half hours, and join the wait for the sequel in 2011.

54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Don't bother

I would never recommend this book to anyone. I'm not sure what the plot was. It was slow.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

SLOW, MUNDANE AND NEARLY ALL FILLER.

I'm not sure what I was hoping for. at the very least I wanted something not so boring.
instead I got day to day living of a nerd while he studied at very ordinary Hogwarts wanna be.
i was treated to all the minutiae that made up Grossman's take on how magic works.
for me, conflict is when the plot actually starts, and it didn't start for well into the story. only to actually be no conflict at all the grand scheme of it all.. the real story BARELY STARTS WITH 3 HOURS LEFT WHILE FINALLY INSIDE A BOOTLEG NARNIA!
it took me 3 years to finish this book. that's how boring it is. I forced myself to finish it because otherwise it'd be stuck in my library forever mocking me since it was too late to get a refund on it.
then it has the nerve to leave a cliffhanger!! based only on the strength of crappy build up and sub par final scene and equally lame twists in the end (chatwins)?!?!?!
apparently there's a show out on it now. don't waste your time on this.
totally forgot.. the narrator chosen was dry to say the least. his English accent, although nice, have the wrong tone to characters that came from New York and other USA addresses.
I give it 1 star because of the false advertisement also. don't sell me on something that this book is not. instead, a warning that it's more about the inner workings of a boring boy learning/doing magic would've been the red flag I needed to save my credit.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Horrible and nasty!

Hated this book. Take everything profane and horrible and put it in one story with a back story and you have this book! Bleck!!!

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

What disappointed you about The Magicians?

The main character was thoroughly unpleasant. I suspect he reflects the authors perspective on life. Very sneery. I really was hoping to enjoy the book as there are three of them.

What was most disappointing about Lev Grossman’s story?

There are no polar bears or arctic foxes in Antarctica. Either the author doesn't know or he doesn't care. Even a few sentence to say something like, "There are no polar bears in Antartica but we chose the biggest warmest animals we could think of. We played and watched as the penguins scatter around us."

What aspect of Mark Bramhall’s performance would you have changed?

He did a fine job of reading an unpleasant book.

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

Disappointment. With a few changes the book could have been good.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

boring

the lead in was drawn out the the ^mear^ too short. mauve good for a previous teen I expected more

4 people found this helpful