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The Magicians Paperback – 21 May 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (21 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043401950X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434019502
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 862,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This is a sophisticated, subtle novel that is also magical fun. I can't imagine any lover of well-written classic fantasy ... who won't adore it" The Times "Stirring, complex, adventurous ... From the life of Quentin, his slacker Park Slope Harry Potter, Grossman delivers superb coming of age fantasy" -- Junot Diaz, author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao "This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels (most obviously, those of J. K. Rowling and C. S. Lewis) in order to upend them, and tell a darkly cunning story about the power of imagination itself" The New Yorker "The novel's climax includes some spectacular magical battles to complement the complex emotional entanglements Grossman has deftly sketched in earlier chapters. Very dark and very scary, with no simple answers provided - fantasy for grown-ups, in other words, and very satisfying indeed" Kirkus "Anyone who grew up reading about magical wardrobes and unicorns and talking trees before graduating to Less Than Zero and The Secret History and Bright Lights, Big City will immediately feel right at home with this smart, beautifully written book by Lev Grossman. The Magicians is fantastic, in all senses of the word. It's strange, fanciful, extravagant, eccentric, and truly remarkable - a great story, masterfully told" -- Scott Smith, author of The Ruins

Review

“Stirring, complex, adventurous ... from the life of Quentin Coldwater, his slacker Park Slope Harry Potter, Lev Grossman delivers superb coming of age fantasy.”
Junot Díaz, author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Magicians ought to be required reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with a fantasy series, or wished that they went to a school for wizards. Lev Grossman has written a terrific, at times almost painfully perceptive novel of the fantastic that brings to mind both Jay McInerney and J. K. Rowling.”
 — Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners and Pretty Monsters

“Remember the last time you ran home to finish a book? This is it, folks. The Magicians is the most dazzling, erudite and thoughtful fantasy novel to date. You'll be bedazzled by the magic but also brought short by what it has to say about the world we live in.”
Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan

The Magicians brilliantly explores the hidden underbelly of fantasy and easy magic, taking what's simple on the surface and turning it over to show us the complicated writhing mess beneath. It's like seeing the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter through a 3-D magnifying glass.”
Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series

“Anyone who grew up reading about magical wardrobes and unicorns and talking trees before graduating to Less Than Zero and The Secret History and Bright Lights, Big City will immediately feel right at home with this smart, beautifully written book by Lev Grossman. The Magicians is fantastic, in all senses of the word. It's strange, fanciful, extravagant, eccentric, and truly remarkable -- a great story, masterfully told.”
Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

“The Magicians is a spellbinding, fast-moving, dark fantasy book for grownups that feels like an instant classic. I read it in a niffin-blue blaze of page turning, enthralled by Grossman's verbal and imaginative wizardry, his complex characters and most of all, his superb, brilliant inquiry into the wondrous, dangerous world of magic.”
Kate Christensen, author of The Epicure's Lament and The Great Man

“Very dark and very scary, with no simple answers provided -- fantasy for grown-ups, in other words, and very satisfying indeed.”
Kirkus

"The Magicians is angst-ridden, bleak, occasionally joyous and gloriously readable. Forget Hogwarts: this is where the magic really is."
 — Jayne Nelson, SFX 5 star review.

The Magicians is Harry Potter as it might have been written by John Crowley...This is one of the best fantasies I’ve read in ages.”
Elizabeth Hand, Fantasy & Science Fiction

“The author has taken all that is held dear in the fantasy genre, reverently (most of the time) tipping the hat to Rowling, Tolkien, Lewis, Le Guin and others, and shown it from a completely different and unique angle.”
Fantasy Book Review (9 out of 10 stars)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nick Brett TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Where to start with this one.....

In essence this is a very dark blend of Harry Potter and Narnia, but it has far more depth and interest then that simple description.

Young man, brought up on stories of a Narnia like world, discovers that magic does exist and is enrolled into a school for magicians. The first half of the book deals with this but with a very dark twist. The pupils are much older then those at Hogwarts, so adult themes are introduced and the author also touches on how mundane life is outside the world of magic and what do you actually do with your abilities when you leave the institution and have to go forth into the real world?

The second half of the book deals with the Narnia like world that our hero imagined was fiction, turns out to be real and when he visits with his friends, finds out that reality is very different from the books........

It is hard to see if the author is just poking fun at Hogwarts and Narnia, or if it is a brilliant but dark pastiche, but whatever it is I thoroughly enjoyed this. It is an adult book and it does have flaws, but it is also one of the most inventive and enjoyable books I have read in a long time.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By James Long on 4 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a novel that wears its influences brazenly (there's firm nods to J. K. Rowling, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and D&D) and yet despite that it's still a difficult novel to define. 'Harry Potter on acid' doesn't really come close; I've seen the comparison with J. K. Rowling's young wizard made too much for my liking, not just because Grossman's tale of a young man enrolling at a magic school is much darker and edgier than Rowling's work, but also because he asks a very good question that Rowling - to my knowledge - doesn't: what the hell do you do with yourself when you've graduated from magic school, wield considerable power and have the whole real world spread out before you?

Note the emphasis on the world 'real', since this is one of the fundamental points of Grossman's book - how the real and fantastical worlds come together to cause no shortage of problems for his protagonist, the young Quentin Coldwater. Quentin is a character that many of us will feel familiar with, (since many of us have probably been similar people at some point, or maybe even still are): a bored, depressed young man who can't see where he fits into the mundanity of modern life, and longs to escape into a fantastical world that he has become obsessed with (in Quentin's case, the Narnia-esque world of Fillory).

Yet unlike most people, Quentin gets his chance to fulfil his personal fantasy when he enrolls at 'Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy', somewhere in upstate New York. Soon he finds himself wielding power the likes of which he has only ever dreamed of. It all seems too good to be true...and of course, it is. With power comes responsibility, and even in the fantastical environs of Brakebills the consequences are terribly real.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bob Stanley on 7 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This was bought as a gift for me, purely on the basis of the cover blurb on the back - which, it turns out, gives scant clue as to the reality of the book's contents.

A plot synopsis isn't worth attempting - let's just say that it's a fantasy and at times you'll feel as though you are reading Harry Potter (to the extent that I wondered if JK Rowling would be calling her lawyers), or the Narnia books. It also reminded me at times of Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" in its description of the raltionship between the student protagonists, and even John Fowles' "The Magus" both in its treatment of relationships and betrayal, and also in the way you wonder who, if anyone, is behind the scenes pulling the strings.

I think this is a book you just have to "go with" - it's an easy read, gripping and I personally found it highly enjoyable. Recommended.

One point worth noting - whilst it is very Harry Potter like in a number of respects, it's not a children's fantasy book - sex and expletives are included!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've hovered between 3 and 4 stars for this one, and I think I still am, so lets say I think 3.5/5. I'd also put off reading this one for some time because I read Grossman's "Codex" a number of years back and was left distinctly underwhelmed (nothing wrong with it, just another bog standard Dan Brownish thriller, and I wasn't keen on Brown's DVC either).

The story is as others have stated. It's a sort of Harry Potter for adults in that a young man discovers he has certain abilities, and is recruited to Brakebills academy for magicians. It's adult because it contains bed language and some sexual content (though nothing hugely explicit).

It's a take-off of C.S. Lewis because Fillory - the land that Quentin dreams of from the books he loved as a kid - is basically Narnia. The difference is that unlike Narnia, Fillory is just as screwed up as our world.

I'll try and write this without any spoilers, though I guess a couple of minor ones are included, although it's pretty obvious that, for example, Quentin is going to actually go to Fillory at some point. There would be a lot of disappointed readers if he hadn't!

The first half or so is taken up with Quentin's training. This is the Harry Potter bit. It's good. We meet all the main characters and the groundwork is laid for later. I have some quibbles - there are some inconsistencies. For example, all the kids are presented as geniuses with SATS scores so high that most people don't realise it's possible to have a score that high (that's a paraphrased quote, since I can't remember it exactly). Then every so often he doesn't know something basic, like what palladium is (pretty sure a genius would know the periodic table!
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