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The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)

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3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  145,677 Ratings  ·  16,252 Reviews
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, ve
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Paperback, 488 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published 2009)
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Popular Answered Questions

Autumn No, and you're not-so-cleverly disguising your opinion as a question--don't. But I'll bite and discuss anyway:

<spoiler>
The main character is a…more
No, and you're not-so-cleverly disguising your opinion as a question--don't. But I'll bite and discuss anyway:

<spoiler>
The main character is a male, and hence we see all the awful things he does. But a careful reader would notice that:

1)It transcends sex as he does awful things to both men and women. He happens to be straight, and a significant other is easy to hurt, so his treatment of his girlfriend shines out.

2)Every character in the book is broken, men and women alike. A book based on Janet, for example, would make her look just as awful as Quentin does.

3)Nothing Quentin does is out of misogyny. It is out of depression and pain, which can cause awful behavior--but not purposeful misogyny.

4)Even if a character acts misogynistic, the author doesn't ever condone it, so the book itself is not.

Whether you think this book is misogynistic because of how Quentin acts or how the women in his life do, it doesn't add up--nobody comes away looking good.
</spoiler>(less)
Clara No, I'd say not. There's too much mature content--sex and drugs, but also very complex emotional issues that I think an 8th grader isn't likely to…moreNo, I'd say not. There's too much mature content--sex and drugs, but also very complex emotional issues that I think an 8th grader isn't likely to understand. Though high school students might read this, it's really a book for adults, not children.(less)
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Mefi Reading Club Suggestion
14th out of 31 books — 41 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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D. Pow
Feb 26, 2010 D. Pow rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has been hard-pedaled as an adult Harry Potter and it is-but with a soulless little git like Draco Malfoy as the main protagonist. Grossman doesn't get to the genuine transformative joy possible in books about other worlds and magic, the metaphorical kick one can bring to the reader. This is a cold and sterile book for people who think themselves too sophisticated for genre fiction, a sub-section of the reading public that, I suspect, includes the author.

To be fair there are certain th
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Emily May
Apr 15, 2016 Emily May rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2016
I know this is a thing us bibliophiles really shouldn't say EVER, but: I think the show is way better.

Don't hurt me.

When I started watching the SYFY version of The Magicians and actually really liked it, I made a quick mental note to go back and read this book first before I got too far into it. Because the book can usually be relied on to be better, I wanted to experience it in written format first. In this case, though, the book makes the story more boring, the characters downright insufferabl
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Nataliya
Mar 04, 2013 Nataliya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
'You can't just decide to be happy.'
'No, you can't. But you can sure as hell decide to be miserable. Is that what you want?'
The answer to this, as far as Quentin Coldwater is concerned, is a resounding 'YES!' At any stage of his life. He makes Holden Caulfield look like a bundle of sunshine. He makes Charlie Brown resemble an embodiment of optimism and positivity. Eeyore the Donkey is brimming with life force compared to our perpetually unhappy hero.
'...You couldn't have everything. Or at lea
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Khanh (the Grinch)
If you will, for just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”

“You can’t just decide to be happy.”

“No, you can’t. But you can sure as hell decide to be miserable. Is that what you want? Do you want to be the asshole who
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Simeon
Oct 07, 2011 Simeon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: utter-shite, fantasy
The story of a quasi-sociopathic high school cretin who mouth-breathes his way into an exclusive fantasy club of anhedonic wizards - replete with bad writing and worse story-telling.

Enjoy.
Mike (the Paladin)
I have a Goordreads friend who likes this book. He expressed a thought that I might not. While not wholly correct about my take he came pretty close.:

Well, first Stephen, you're right in a way, I don't like stories that are "downers just to be downers". The nihilistic attitude you see so often. I don't like the (as I've said before) "life is crap and then you die" story. So many today seem to think that for a story to have any depth it has to be deeply depressing.

On the other hand if there is a
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Dan Schwent
Feb 08, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Quentin Coldwater is an unhappy teen, eyeing up an uncertain future in college. He's secretly in love with his friend Julia. Nothing else really matters to him except the Fillory and Further series of books he's loved since childhood. Imagine how he feels when a seamingly routine college interview drops an undiscovered Fillory book in his grasp and leads him to Brakebills, a college of wizardry, and worlds beyond...

First of all, this isn't Harry Potter for adults, no matter how much people want
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Kasia
I was ready to love this book, it's supposed to be Harry Potter like but more gritty, more realistic, more substantial, and I guess it is and I still like the idea of it. And yet this book did not work for me. I was really patient with it, I downplayed the initial irritation of incorporating the entire Potter premise. It's one thing to borrow bits and pieces, it's another to rip off a whole concept leaving out a few bits here and there and dressing up the rest. But since I'm a sucker for fantasy ...more
Jason Pettus
Mar 24, 2010 Jason Pettus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

(UPDATE: After reading other reviews online, I realized that I could've made my point even more succinctly by simply saying the following: "Oh, wonderful -- another dour academe writes another fussy, joyless genre exercise, designed specifically for MFA circle-jerks who consider themselves 'above' such si
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Stephen
5.0 stars. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! I know that not everyone agrees with this sentiment for this book, but I was greatly impressed by it. From the very beginning of this story, I got the distinct feeling that Grossman was going to be taking "the less travelled path" in his fantasy novel. While I have seen a lot of comparisons to other stories (some of which are quite intentional by the author) this book is certainly ITS OWN BOOK.

The novel is really two very different and distinct storie
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Raeleen Lemay
I tried. I really tried.

Aside from enjoying the beginning, reading this book is like staring at a piece of cardboard for hours on end. It's just verryyyyyy dull to me and I don't care about it one bit. I may give it another chance someday, but no promises.

However, I do want to give the tv series a shot, because I really didn't hate the characters or the world, I just can't get into the way they were written in this book.
Nostalgebraist
This was in a special category for me: books whose positive reception make me question my membership in the human race. After finishing it I stared at the glowing blurbs on the back, looked up some positive reviews online, and thought, who are these people? What could they have been thinking? How could they possibly be so different from me? After that it took a few days of solid social interaction with good friends to convince me that I actually had something in common with my fellow humans -- t ...more
Cindy
Aug 08, 2015 Cindy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2009
Okay I am in the minority I didn't really like this book. I didn't think it was going to be a Harry Potter, as a matter of fact I knew it wouldn't be even though it was compared to HP.... the author even compared it to HP which its not.

I can enjoy that this is a "tribute" to fantasy..... but that's about it. It was a depressing poorly written book. Details seemed to be lacking and the only details we'd get is a knock off version of another fantasy book. The characters were one sided and had no
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Lola  Reviewer
I think I'll just stick with the TV series, because this is terrible.
Kemper
Aug 02, 2011 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, magic, 2011-r
A quick and easy way to describe this would be to call it Harry Potter for adults. There's a magic school and a lot more sex and booze than poor old Harry ever had. But that doesn't do it justice because this was an extremely original and unique twist on the notion of what it would be like to actually live in a world where magic and fantasy realms exist.

Quentin Coldwater is a bored teenager getting ready to apply for college but is already seriously disillusioned with his life and wishes things
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Stepheny

Prepare yourselves for a rant-filled scathing review. So. Much. Hate.

When I read the Martian I really never thought there would be a book I would hate more. But boy am I putting my foot in my mouth on that one! The Magicians was the winner by a landslide for The Most Obnoxious Book of the Year Award!

Congratulations, Lev Grossman! Your book fucking sucks.



This book was said to be the “adult version of Harry Potter.” Those are some big balls you have making that claim. Especially to someone lik
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[Name Redacted]
A friend gave this book to me as a Christmas present, but the sneering reviews (on and inside the book) which compared it (oh-so-favorably) to Harry Potter/Narnia/LotR (proclaiming them "weak" and this strong and bracing and refreshing and...) kept repulsing me before I could even get to the first page. She's coming to visit me next month however and I'm determined to read it! Updates to follow!


UPDATE 4: A miserable book about miserable people being miserable while doing miserable things written
...more
J.L.   Sutton
This was a difficult review to write. I was immediately drawn into Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, but then spent most of the remainder of the book wondering why I was reading it. The several parts of the book had a schizophrenic quality which didn’t always seem to have much to do with preceding sections or what came after. Still, it was well-written and I appreciated Grossman’s depiction of the magical world as something other than a place of awe and wonder. His rich, spoiled mages help create so ...more
Stefan
The Magicians by Lev Grossman is one of the most frequently reviewed fantasy novels of the last few years, which isn’t surprising because the author is a well known writer (and book reviewer) for TIME Magazine, and the book was very effectively hyped as “Harry Potter with college age students.” The end result of all of this is that lots of people who don’t regularly read fantasy have picked up this novel, and many of them had their expectations severely challenged. So, is The Magicians also wort ...more
Darth J
September 2015 Update

It occurs to me that I never really wrote a proper review for this, so no time like the present, amirite? We start with millennial Quentin Coldwater

who gets accepted to New York Hogwarts Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy

after passing some exhausting magical tests.

Upon graduating he realizes that magic can't solve everything

but it can do a lot of other cool stuff

like go to Narnia Fillory, a magical land from his favorite childhood book series and play quidditch welters.
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 29, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
I passed on reading this book when it first came out because I was underwhelmed by the author's first book Codex. The excessively negative reviews about The Magicians peaked my interest. The complaints these reviewers had actually made me want to read the book. The positive reviews confirmed my growing suspicion that I should read this book. Although I am late to the party I must say I am glad that I overcame my initial reluctance because I loved this book.

Unfortunately this book was marketed a
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Samantha
Jun 30, 2016 Samantha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

This isn't to say I don't think this is a good book. I think it's very clever. It messes with your expectations, about everything, and because of that there were many parts I didn't actively enjoy. (I would say that I passively enjoyed it... Is that a thing?) Because of that it gets a lower rating. I do feel that this is the kind of book that can't be rated individually and instead the series should be reviewed as a whole. I will continue with this series and I'm looking forward to it.
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Maciek
Having never heard of Lev Grossman I picked up two of his novels at the thrift store, basing solely on the premises from the back covers - Codex and The Magicians. I decided to read The Magicians first, because Grossman's first two books have both been bombs - Warp vanished without a trace, and Codex received largely negative reviews. But The Magicians was a huge success, so it couldn't be all that bad, right? After my admiration for Peter Straub's Shadowland (which deals with roughly the same t ...more
seak
Sep 05, 2013 seak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, urban-fantasy, 2013
This book was the worst book to read/listen to while I was extremely busy. All I wanted to do was get back in the car, take a walk, workout (yeah right), clean, etc. Anything to get back to my audiobook.

The best sign of a good audiobook is how much I put aside my visualbook to listen.

And the craziest part is that when I start to explain the book, I find myself wondering, How could I possibly like this book?

The main characters are the biggest, self-obsessed, pricks I've probably ever read about.
...more
Ben Babcock
If you write enough book reviews, eventually you start sounding like everyone you never wanted to be. Today, I'll be the annoying guy who brags about how he saw everything coming. That's right, I found this book utterly predictable from start to finish. Even the Arctic fox sex scene.

The Magicians is a very postmodern type of fantasy, deconstructing as it does the Narnian-style childhood fantasy of saving the world. It's one of those curiously self-aware books that nevertheless stays firmly on th
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Heather K (dentist in my spare time)


I can honestly say that I haven't read a book with characters this self-involved, self-aggrandizing, and self-important in, well, ever. This book and all of its contents were wholly insufferable. Not only was it a blatant rip off of other notable books, but it was completely shameless in its theft. I hated everything about this book.

I read another review where the reviewer says the following:

Oh, wonderful -- another dour academe writes another fussy, joyless genre exercise, designed specifically
...more
Kevin Xu
Jan 30, 2013 Kevin Xu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
I feel like this book has too many tropes and cliche of all the mainstream fantasy books all wrapped up in one. I hope maybe the sequel will be better. Overall, the book was not worth the time to read it. First, the author comes from this high New York mind set that only New Yorkers are better than others, even better, add both Harvard and Yale into the mix. (one of the reason the New York Times and the media love this book) To me what I hate most about this book is that he had to copy from Harr ...more
Seth T.
Aug 19, 2010 Seth T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People love describing one thing as the adult version of another thing. For example, Foucault's Pendulum is like The Da Vinci Code for adults. The allure of this kind of comparison is at least threefold: 1) it offers a simple way to draw people in, by playing on their affection for another work; 2) it leverages against the desire to take in a more mature version of something they already like; and 3) it derides the value of the other, presumably-enjoyed work.

People love to dismiss especially po
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Kelly
A narrative in two parts- two books in one, really, with the same characters.

The first section of this book is the attention-grabbing, "if Harry Potter were mixed with" blurb-causing, teenage magic school creation that you've heard about. The comparisons are accurate enough, and I'm not going to try to get creative here and pretend that its actually about something else to be original. The author clearly means for us to see the parallel. Harry Potter introduced a deserving orphan, and guided him
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Warwick
Feb 13, 2016 Warwick rated it really liked it
I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this feverish, hormonal fantasy riff, which lifts methodically from JK Rowling, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and any number of other writers known only by their initials and surname. It has mixed ratings here and, glancing through the comments with one eye closed before I started, I guessed that I'd be agreeing more with the critics than the fans. But I was swept up in the story, in a way I haven't been for some time, and any concerns I had about the book just ...more
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142270
My novel The Magicians was a New York Times bestseller. So was the sequel, The Magician King. The third book in the trilogy, The Magician's Land, will be published in August 2014.

There's yet more information about me and my books on my website.
More about Lev Grossman...

Other Books in the Series

The Magicians, (3 books)
  • The Magician King (The Magicians, #2)
  • The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3)

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“If there's a single lesson that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so.” 2781 likes
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