Joe Informatico's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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Apr 22, 12

bookshelves: alternate-worlds, fantasy, education, urban-fantasy, sword-and-laser
Read in February, 2010

UPDATE (22-Apr-12): I'm revising my opinion of this book after my second read-through, 2 years later. I was overly harsh in my original review. I think there were a lot of good ideas in this book that needed more development. Most of the characters came across a lot better than I remember them--my opinion may have been coloured by point-of-view character, Quentin, who is extremely flawed. Probably realistically so, but hard to overcome. I'm still unconvinced by his "redemption" at the end.

If anything, this book was a lot of interesting ideas and promises that just seem unfulfilled.

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(03-Feb-10): It was a struggle to finish this book. For a good 3/4 of the story, you read about a group of unsympathetic snobbish assholes making oh-so-clever quips while the author skewers every convention of fantasy literature. I don't take issue with the latter when done out of love (Terry Pratchet's career) or with a clear agenda to attack its foundation (Michael Moorcock's "Epic Pooh" essay and Normad Spinrad's subversive "The Iron Dream").

This book instead feels like a mainstream literary author "slumming it" in genre fiction, only without the respect and love for genre that you'd get from a Michael Chabon. As if just adding sex and drugs to Harry Potter and Narnia makes the work "mature". That doesn't work in comic books and it doesn't work here.

That said, the last quarter of the book redeems itself somewhat, probably because it then plays straight the fantasy tropes it mocked previously. Some pathos is finally generated for Quentin, the protagonist. Which just made me wonder where was *that* Quentin for the first 300 pages while his unlikeable doppleganger was hogging the spotlight?
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kat (new)

Kat let me know what you think! I didn't finish it (awful, I know).


Joe Informatico Kat wrote: "let me know what you think! I didn't finish it (awful, I know)."

I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it either: I'm 2/3 of the way through and still haven't found a character I give a damn about.


message 3: by Kat (new)

Kat Joe wrote:

I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it either: I'm 2/3 of the way through and still haven't found a character I give a ..."


yes, exactly. I found the world building to be a bit lacking too (but maybe I'm just spoiled with Harry Potter and Narnia!)




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