Stefan's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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Feb 16, 15

bookshelves: fantasy, library-loan, far-beyond-reality-review
Read from June 15 to 17, 2011

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 worth the time for true-blooded, die-hard fantasy fans? In a word: yes.

Read the entire review on my site Far Beyond Reality!
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Reading Progress

06/15/2011 page 166
41.0%

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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mark monday excellent review. very insightful analysis. did not expect the parallel to The Neverending Story, but that certainly makes sense.


Stephanie I was glad to see this review after reading so many negative ones that seemed, more than anything else, to fault The Magicians with NOT being Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia. I'm not surprised. There's a certain kind of balance in these books, as in most fantasy books, that The Magicians lacks--a certain sense of rightness wronged, and the characters in HP and Narnia are lucky enough to have a clearly delineated wrong to put right. Quentin and the others in The Magicians don't have it that easy, and they feel the lack of it, and perhaps that's why so many fantasy fans have found it unsettling.


Caroline My God. What a fabulous, fabulous review! You put into words everything I felt about this incredible book. I loved Grossman's cynical take on magicians. The many negative (and lukewarm) reviews of this book greatly surprise me, and make me wonder what people were expecting when they decided to read it. Stephanie makes an excellent point about the magicians not being on a quest to right a wrong, although, (view spoiler), so maybe that's part of the reason for all the dislike. I think, also, that when the main character is not readily likable, along with several of the other characters, readers are left with a sour taste. I personally was drawn in by how the disillusionment, cynicism, and arrogance of the characters rings so true to life; Grossman knows that so many students Quentin's age truly are like this.

You mention The Neverending Story. I never read the book (just saw the movie as a kid), but the disillusionment of these young magicians reminds me so much of Donna Tartt's excellent book, The Secret History; there's that same boredom, disillusionment, and drinking among a close-knit circle of college students, and the book has dark undertones.


Stefan Caroline wrote: "My God. What a fabulous, fabulous review! You put into words everything I felt about this incredible book. I loved Grossman's cynical take on magicians. The many negative (and lukewarm) reviews of ..."

Thanks so much for the kind words! Your mention of The Secret History is spot-on. I never made the connection myself despite having read the book, but Lev actually mentioned it as a direct influence during an interview I did with him.


Caroline Stefan wrote: "Your mention of The Secret History is spot-on. I never made the connection myself despite having read the book, but Lev actually mentioned it as a direct influence during an interview I did with him. "

Oh, he did? So cool. I must have a thing for stories about disillusioned, cynical college students because The Magicians and The Secret History are two of my favorite books ever. Funny because I was so NOT this kind of college student! :D


Caroline Geez. Just realized how much I said "disillusioned." I need a thesaurus. :D


Craig Great review! I also agree with Caroline with her comparison of The Magicians and The Secret History. Both books have similar characters with similar flaws. I don't understand all of the negative reviews based on the fact that the characters are unlikable. First off, I found the characters likable in spite of their foibles and flaws. Secondly, who says a book has to have likable characters to be an enjoyable and engrossing read?


Caroline Craig wrote: "Secondly, who says a book has to have likable characters to be an enjoyable and engrossing read?"

Yes, exactly, and frankly, it's when characters are unlikable (flawed?), the story can actually be a stronger one. Incidentally, I read on Grossman's blog that he is finished writing the third book, The Magician's Land, and it will be published in 2014.


Craig Cool! I am halfway through The Magician King right now. Julia's story is very engaging.

Both of these books can be laugh out loud funny at times as well. That does not happen very often in my reading.


Caroline Craig wrote: "Cool! I am halfway through The Magician King right now. Julia's story is very engaging.

Both of these books can be laugh out loud funny at times as well. That does not happen very often in my..."


I greatly enjoyed The Magician King. I was very skeptical (and disappointed even) when I found out a good chunk of it focused on Julia's story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find she was a fascinating character. Grossman did a great job with this second book. The characters grow, and the story progresses; that's crucial in a series/trilogy.


message 11: by Q2 (new) - rated it 3 stars

Q2 It has more than strong echoes of Narnia--it's like he copied everything from those books and renamed it. Derivative.


Martyna Thank you for taking your time to write this great analysis. I agree 100%.


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