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The Magicians

(The Magicians #1)

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  247,103 ratings  ·  22,880 reviews
A thrilling and original coming-of-age novel for adults 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 ver
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Viking
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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:

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

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.
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 und…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)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.52  · 
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Emily May
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
D. Pow
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 15, 2012 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
Aug 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
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 w
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretend Harry Potter was a bit of a narcissistic douchebag, and all of his friends were whiny a-holes who drank too much.


Now pretend that they crammed 5 years worth of their Hogwarts adventures into one book. Except most of the adventures are fairly mundane, with a few exceptions sprinkled here and there.


Then pretend at the very end of said book, they all took a trip to a warped version of Narnia...with mixed results.


Now, if you're the type of reader who absolutely has to like the main character
Mark Lawrence
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A definite 5*

EDIT: Having now read the highest rated reviews of the book I'm amazed at the amount of vitriol on show. I've no idea what provoked it. I stand by my opinion and don't recognise the novel portrayed in many of these reviews.

The Magicians immediately appealed to my writer bones. There a great many sharply observed and cuttingly sarcastic lines. There a good few beautiful ones. Along with the Victorian sensibilities of the Brakebills school of magic Lev Grossman adopts a witty almost
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
*Originally reviewed in Sept. 2010*

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 depress
Dan Schwent
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
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
Mar 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jason Pettus
Feb 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. 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
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
(3.5? I might change it later) After deliberation I decided that the best way to describe this book is...

A muggle born Draco Malfoy who grew up reading about Narnia, learns that magic is real and Narnia might be too...

I think my main issue with his book was my own expectations. Too often people describe this book as Harry Potter books for grown ups and it's just not how I see it. The main character (all the characters actually!) is a depressed, "Iamverysmart" young adult who gets to go to a magi
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
So I listened to this on Audio from the library and I laughed my arse off for most of the book! 😃

Then I was like .......

I mean the audio was soooo good but I thought this was about something totally different!! And NO, I haven’t watched the show yet. It’s in my Netflix list but I haven’t gotten to it!

I can see why people were talking about it being a cross between Harry Potter and Narnia and I wasn’t expecting that at all!

Well, all I can say is I enjoyed it and plan on reading the rest of the
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

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
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
J.L.   Sutton
May 17, 2016 rated it liked it
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
May 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Terrifically horrible, a gonorrheal mess. Overly lauded by megastar writers because, as book critic for TIME, Grossman has been pivotal to an extent for some of their fame & $. Obvi.

Alas, one reads it and knows right around page three hundred what a swamp the rest of the voyage will be, as superduper 2D Harry-Hermione-Ron-Luna-& co. avatars (at a discount) find themselves, I fuck with you NOT, in a fish out of water but lame trip to the land of Narnia. A generic one, as well. It really is just t
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
What would you do if tomorrow your Hogwarts letter came in the mail? What about if your closet became a portal to Narnia?

Suddenly there is a sharp line in the sand, dividing your life into two phases: Before Magic and After Magic.

The Magicians analyzes this concept with the very deepest, darkest pits of human sin in mind. It is an exploration of realistic responses to unrealistic circumstances.

"I got my heart's desire...and there my troubles began."

This is not a book for people who prefer their
[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
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magic, fantasy, 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
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
1 Star: DNF @ 45%

Look, I can put up with a lot, but I draw the line at weird artic-wolf furry sex.

Throughout the magical training process, for some reason the students undergo challenge after challenge that involve being turned into animals. Our main character (Quentin) and his friend (we rarely see them act friendly and instead just see him pine about how pretty she is and oh-god-the-friend-zone) are turned into wolves who retain their human consciousness but with overwhelming animal instincts
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2009, fantasy
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
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
Ever wanted to read a fantasy series where the protagonists aren't weirdly gifted with suitable talents. where they swear, take drugs and have sex, where they've read Harry Potter and watch Netflix? A fantasy series where the use of magic has understandable consequences, where power really does corrupt, where there are no ridiculously romanticised relationships and key players are non-binary? Welcome to The Magicians.

The Fillory series, like the Harry Potter books in our universe is the major bo
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
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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DNF @ 36%

Mastubatory fantasy for the disaffected intellectual who thinks Harry Potter needs less friendship and more Ayn Rand and Bret Easton Ellis. If the idea of reading about a bunch of self-congratulatory little assholes learning magic appeals to you, then by all means, pick up THE MAGICIANS.

I should point out that my qualm itself is less about the characters and more about the stilted writing and the lazy portrayal in which they ar
Jack +Books & Bourbon+
Quick...raise your hand if can answer yes to the following questions;

Have you ever read a book and wished you could visit (or just permanently relocate) to the place/timeframe in question?

Or, more importantly, do you feel out of place in this world of celebrity worship, rampant consumerism, confusing national conflicts, and the death of common sense?

Is your hand raised? Yeah, mine is too.

Glad we are all in the same boat. But, is it any surprise that we are all of similar mind? We are all here
Victoria Schwab
Dec 26, 2010 added it
Shelves: kindle
SO conflicted. Moments where I loved the WRITING, but others where I kind of wanted to stab the book in the heart. Maybe that's a sign of a great book, though. ...more
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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.

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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