A College of Magics (A College of Magics, #1)
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A College of Magics (A College of Magics #1)

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  3,013 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Teenager Faris Nallaneen is the heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon. Too young still to claim her title, her despotic Uncle Brinker has ruled in her place. Now he demands she be sent to Greenlaw College. For her benefit he insists. To keep me out of the way, more like it!

But Greenlaw is not just any school-as Faris and her new best friend Jane discover. At Greenl
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Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 13th 2002 by Starscape
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Minli
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leah
This book is a travesty. I hardly know where to start.

It might be best to start with the claim on the front and back covers, from Jane Yolen, that this book is superior in all respects to Harry Potter. I'm not sure what yardstick she's using as a comparison, but it certainly isn't plotting, characterisation or reader engagement. Perhaps it's the dubious claim that this book is better written, which is a nebulous claim in any circumstances, and seems to be levelled here because she can't think o...more
Rhiannon
I really enjoyed this book. I was a little hesitant to get the book when I noticed the "age range" was projected for 9-12 year olds. Or maybe it was 9-12 grade? The reading level was never a problem... meaning I didn't feel like i was reading a children's book.
The narration seemed a little disconnected emotionally. Personal preference really comes in to play on that point. The style intrigued me, and I thought it was a great complement to the way Faris seemed to keep herself emotionally detached...more
Lightreads
A young Duchess is sent far away from home to magic finishing school in alternate Europe, and then there's plot and politics. I picked this up because I particularly liked Stevermer's half of Sorcery and Cecelia. This didn't hit the same sweet, simple notes. It's a nice enough book, with some interesting world building and a heroine with a temper, and you really can't go wrong with magical girls' college. But this book had a vague feeling of being all under glass for me. There's a fair amount of...more
Elizabeth
Picked this up as an antidote to Grossman's The Magicians, for which purpose it is recommended. Women doing things! A magical college that produces functional humans! An academic community I totally recognize! Protagonists I don't want to drown! A protagonist who undergoes change and grows the hell up and deliberately chooses political power! Seriously, I have so much love for Jane and Tyrian and Eve-Marie, and Faris gets better throughout the book, and I hope very much they all remain awesome i...more
Arminzerella
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Diana
I hate to confess this, since this was a beloved book recommended on a few blogs and GR... but I was lukewarm about this book. I thought it got better at the end, once we saw how the warden/world theory related at all to Faris' life.

I don't get the point of Menary, though-- her character's supposed to serve as a foil, but I prefer my antagonists to have a little more development. I also found the story-telling to be a little uneven. Periodically, Stevermer would dwell for pages and pages on the...more
Kayt
2.5 stars

Faris Naralleen is heir to the dukedom of Galazon. Too young to rule, she's sent from her beloved homeland by her jerk uncle until he works out a way to rule even after she comes of age. At Greenlaw College, though, she discovers there's more to learn than just poise and history: magic.

A College of Magics, I will admit up front, is not a book that would appeal to me hugely even if it didn't have flaws, simply due to the writing style. I found it reminiscent of Robin McKinley with its hu...more
Hollowspine
Jun 22, 2009 Hollowspine rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Fans of Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones or J.K. Rowling
Shelves: ya
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Kate
12/2012 Of all the Caroline Stevermer I've read, this is my favorite.* The first half or so of the book is really a story about college. It resonates with me because it is so much like my college experience (minus the evil uncle back at home, of course). Faris finds her place at Greenlaw, and falls in love with it, and finds her place among her friends. And there is magic, and it's a very different sort of magic. The second half of the book (view spoiler)...more
Erin
Jun 10, 2011 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
This is what I was expecting from The Magicians - it's strong throughout, never leaning on the setting to charm (life is good at the titular college, but things are just as interesting outside of it). It's a shame this has such a terrible cover, because it really did surpass my expectations and I know that I never would have picked it up if I hadn't been curious about Stevermer after reading Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot. It's nice to read a YA book that isn't constantly rem...more
Taylor
Not a fan of this book. I picked it up for $1 because the premise sounded interesting and the front had a quote by Jane Yolen "A large step up . . . from Harry Potter." I can't find her full quote, but my point of view would be that there was some clever editing going on. For me, the quote would read closer to "A large step up from twiddling your thumbs for four hours, but a far cry from Harry Potter."

The dialogue was stilted, and the characters had very odd relationships (or lack thereof). The...more
Juushika
Faris is the heir to a small dukedom, but while she is a minor her uncle rules in her stead. As she approaches her majority, he sends her far away to attend a prestigious finishing school where she is taught lessons, social graces, and—the school's specialty—magic. Just before graduation, Faris is swept away into a whirlwind journey of politics and magic which leads her ever closer to the very foundation of the world she lives in. A College of Magics is intelligent and clever, realistic and fant...more
Ithlilian
This book was terrible. The cover boldly claims that it is a "large step up from Harry Potter" and it couldn't be more wrong. The believable environment and rich characters of Harry Potter don't compare to a school that's barely even described and a cast of callous characters. The main character in A College of Magics comes off as stuck up and annoying. The magic doesn't seem very magical, and the lessons are ridiculously boring. Random plot threads are introduced but never finished and most of...more
Julia
This is such a wonderful book that I have a hard time summing up. It's set in a turn of the century Europe that is similar to our own. Magic exists, and is something that proper young ladies are taught. The book chronicles the adventures of Faris Nallaneen the rightful ruler of a tiny nation state, who has been exiled to a school in England by an appropriately wicked uncle. There are intrigues, magic, tea and transformations. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical British fi...more
Zoe
It was slow getting into it, but ultimately more than worth the effort.

The characters are... interesting. In a good way. Very acidic and sarcastic, which happens to appeal to me.

Umm... confused in parts, just because some of the interactions were odd. Interesting concepts. I still don't know how much I like the arrangement of magic in their world. I dunno'.

Anywho... this is jumbled and mostly incoherent. Sorry.

Definitely recommend to anyone who appreciates Harry Potter.
Beth
Stevermere has an unusual writing style for a fantasy writer--a terrific ear for historical context and language, a judicious use of dialogue, lots of subtlety in terms of character development and foreshadowing. Her prose is never too flowerly, and yet one can almost believe she wrote this book when it was set--in 1908. Never a single anachronism, even as she writes of magic and derring-do among witches. Wonderful, even the third time 'round.
Kami
This was a fun read and would have been a four star for its originality, except I hated the ending. I won't write any spoilers but I really didn't like how things turned out at all. Plus, I thought the main character was a little immature, well, more than a little immature a lot of the time. But then, I guess if I can get sucked into the story enough to be so annoyed at her and the ending, it was pretty engrossing.
Mauri
Jane Yolen states that this book is "A large step up...from Harry Potter" and in some ways I think she's right. Things are a little less straight-forward emotionally and the magic is more complicated. But Harry Potter got thousands of kids who would rather eat worms than read to stay up all night with a 700-page book. I doubt this book would appeal to such a large audience.
Amanda Hendsbee
This book touts itself as "a large step up from Harry Potter." It lies. It lies A LOT. While it does start out fairly interesting, it rapidly because mundane and mostly plotless. The main character, Faris, is quite likeable, but besides that, I doubt I'll remember anything I read within a week or two. Definitely not worth the lengthy read.
Linda Cee
I can't believe I never added this series to my shelves here on GR!!! It's one of my very favorite books, I love the characters (especially Jane!)and I like how even though the plot is quite clear the author leaves enough to the imagination that you could spend hours after you finish it just thinking about the "possibilities"
Qnpoohbear
In an alternate version of early 20th century Europe, Faris Nallaneen, the heir to the Duchy of Galazon, is sent by her uncle/guardian to Greenlaw College in France to learn polish, manners and magic. Faris absolutely does not want to be there and is determined to get sent home or run away as soon as possible. Her plans are thwarted and she must remain at Greenlaw and become a witch of Greenlaw. Faris keeps mostly to herself and doesn't bother anybody, but a nasty girl Menary spreads rumors abou...more
Ashley
At first I was a bit surprised by the style of they story and I wondered if I was reading the right book. Not much was happening and I didn't really care for the main character or her love for her home. I also wondered if anything magical was going to happen. Thankfully this all changed about a third of the way in and I ended up really, really enjoying this book. The time it took getting there was also nice, it just hadn't been what I was expecting. I also loved her friend Jane and probably woul...more
Molly Westerman
I had a lot of fun reading A College of Magics--and I know I would have found it at least as engrossing (and hard to put down) as a younger person. Twelve-year-old me would have read it in one sitting ... unfortunately, thirty-two-year-old me can't just wander off to read for hours at a time, but I still felt that impulse.

I didn't love the ending, and some of the romantic feelings and so on are rather overdone. But many of the characters are interesting--evil Uncle Brinker who turns out not to b...more
Lissa Notreallywolf
I am ambivalent about this book, but I would recommend it to anyone who aspires to write. The dialogue is great, and well integrated into the story. It is a YA novel, and I think it is appropriate for girls younger than the late teen protagonist, Faris. Sent to a finishing school with a magical subcurriculum, the book models how to survive and thrive being in a place you don't want to be in. Faris's rebellion is a dull roar throughout the book and makes everything bubble. It makes you want to si...more
Maureen E
I’ve been enjoying Stevermer’s Kate and Cecy books, which she wrote with Patricia C. Wrede, for several years. These two are quite similar in the mix of magic and a world that’s mostly like ours at an earlier time period. I have to say that, while I liked the characters and the story, the world building seemed a little odd to me. I felt very disoriented in the first book because the main character is from a country that doesn’t exist in our world but does in this world and then England showed up...more
Elizabeth
Although the title and the book description imply that this story is set at a magical girls' school in the early 20th century, that only describes the first third of the book. I really liked that part: Faris Nallaneen, the not-yet-adult duchess of Galazon, is packed off to Greenlaw College by her uncle who would prefer to run Galazon without her interference. She's understandably reluctant to attend at first, but settles in, makes friends and an enemy, maybe learns magic...and then we start the...more
*Queen Diva*
Actual rating: 3.5

This book has been on my to-read list for a while so when I found it in great condition at the library book sale (woot! 75 cents!) I bought it. And when I looked at my bookshelf to find what book to read next, this one called my name (how I usually decide what to read... It might seem strange but usually one book will pull me to it and if I try to read anything else I just don't care to do so). I was a little bit daunted by the size of it (I rarely read anything over 300 pages...more
Sally
I was really not excited about reading this... and with good reason as it turned out! It starts off pretty okay, in a boarding school which is SO my thing, especially when there's magic involved, but then... it was just weird and... WEIRD. Not a fan at all. Like, Faris is just this girl at the boarding school with some pretty epic lineage shit going on, but nothing too magical there... and then oh wait, she's the warden of the north! And now she has to go mend some magical rift! And wtf? And the...more
Anastasia (Here There Be Books)
-- Originally reviewed at Here There Be Books. --

I've never read a Caroline Stevermer book before, but I've heard good things. I actually remember trying to read this book when I was 12 and I hated it, so I was a little wary of reading it now, about 10 years later. But! After I got past the bumpy beginning, I actually liked it a lot.

I found the beginning bumpy mostly because I had to adjust to the writing style. It's somewhat old fashioned, and it's somewhat...unwieldy? All I know is that it too...more
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(from website)
Caroline Stevermer grew up miles from anywhere on a dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota. She has a sister and two brothers. After high school, she attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. degree in the history of art. She knew she wanted to be a writer when she was eight years old. She began by writing stories in her school notebooks. (They were not good....more
More about Caroline Stevermer...
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“Faris turned on him. "Why choose to wear black today, of all days? I know why I'm in black. Why are you? Mourning?

He looked startled. "One does not wear mourning for a servant."

You still don't understand, do you? He was not my servant."

He regarded her anger, aghast. "What then? What else could he be?

Her empty hands shook as she held them out to him. Her voice shook as she replied, "Glove to my hand." Slowly she closed her fists. "Everything.”
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“You must form your own fashions in a way which demonstrates that you flout the standards from knowledge, not from ignorance. . . But I may flout the standards? . . . Of course. What do you think standards are for?” 13 likes
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