Anastasia's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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Aug 02, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites, contemporary-fantasy, re-readable

The Magicians is commonly described as "Harry Potter for adults", and I think as a result many people are disappointed when they find out it isn't.

To me, this book is a "What if magic was real?" scenario.
If it was real, it would probably be incredibly difficult, tedious, often times mundane and entirely not fantastical. A lot of people found that depressing, but I really enjoyed the sense of realism.

I found the main character very relatable, he wasn't particularly noble or heroic, he had a constant sense of apathy, seems to exist in a bland stupor while harbouring the childhood hope that, at any moment, something fantastical and incredible would happen and his new life, his real, finally satisfying life would begin. I related to the desire for escapism through books and the dissatisfaction with the regular non-magical reality.
Although a lot of people dislike his attitude, I thought that it balanced with the different personalities of other main characters.
I felt invested in the characters and their relationships; when Quentin did something I disapproved of, I actually felt disappointed in him.

The book is wonderfully well-written and reminds me that Harry Potter is a children's book by comparison. I didn't think the darker parts were gratuitous like a lot of gritty fiction, but just added to the sense of realism that really got me emerged in the story. In real life, sometimes bad things happen which aren't for the greater good, or a grand purpose, sometimes they're just pointless and awful. Some of the character observations and reactions to extraordinary circumstances were so spot-on that I could have believed it actually happened.

The audiobook is narrated masterfully by Mark Bramhall who captures Quentin perfectly, as well as making other characters distinct.

This is not a kind of Harry Potter fantasy with the hopeful, magnificence of magic and a band of brave and virtuous heroes. It is a different kind of story, and obviously not for everyone, although it is one of my personal favourites.
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Quotes Anastasia Liked

Lev Grossman
“His crush went from exciting to depressing, as if he'd gone from the first blush of infatuation to the terminal nostalgia of a former lover without even the temporary relief of an actual relationship in between.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“The life I should be living had been mislaid through some clerical error by the cosmic bureaucracy.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“Josh speculated about the hypothetical contents of an imaginary porn magazine for intelligent trees that would be entitled Enthouse.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“Are you kidding? That guy was a mystery wrapped in an enigma and crudely stapled to a ticking fucking time bomb. He was either going to hit somebody or start a blog.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“When the oldest Chatwin, melancholy Martin, opens the cabinet of the grandfather clock that stands in a dark, narrow back hallway in his aunt’s house and slip through into Fillory...it’s like he’s opening the covers of a book, but a book that did what books always promised to do and never ac tually quite did: get you out, really out, of where you were and into something better.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“The real problem with being around James was that he was always the hero. And what did that make you? Either the sidekick or the villain.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“Look, who's the talking bear here?” Quentin snapped. “Is it you? Are you the talking fucking bear? All right. So shut the fuck up.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“He'd spent too long being disappointed by the world - he'd spent so many years pining for something like this, some proof that the real world wasn't the only world, and coping with the overwhelming evidence that it in fact was.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“He wasn't in a safe little story where wrongs were automatically righted; he was still in the real world, where bad bitter things happened for no reason, and people paid for things that weren't their fault.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“Sure, but real life’s not actually like that,” Quentin went on, fumbling after what he was sure was an important insight. “You don’t just go on fun adventures for good causes and have happy endings. You’re not going to be a character in a story, there’s nobody arranging everything for you. The real world just doesn’t work like that.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Lev Grossman
“Quentin was thin and tall, though he habitually hunched his shoulders in a vain attempt to brace himself against whatever blow was coming from the heavens, and which would logically hit the tall people first.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians
tags: logic

Lev Grossman
“But there was a more seductive, more dangerous truth to Fillory that Quentin couldn’t let go of. It was almost like the Fillory books— especially the first one, The World in the Walls— were about reading itself. When the oldest Chatwin, melancholy Martin, opens the cabinet of the grandfather clock that stands in a dark, narrow back hallway in his aunt’s house and slips through into Fillory (Quentin always pictured him awkwardly pushing aside the pendulum, like the uvula of a monstrous throat), it’s like he’s opening the covers of a book, but a book that did what books always promised to do and never actually quite did: get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians


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