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The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)
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OCT 16: the magicians > Discussion Questions

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message 1: by Nicole (last edited Oct 20, 2016 08:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nicole Pio (beerbudgetsocialite) | 24 comments Here are some discussion questions I found and liked. I think these questions might help us understand our frustration with this book alittle more:
1. In many ways The Magicians depicts and amplifies the quintessential adolescent experience: depression, ennui, emotional carelessness. Would magic be a gift or a curse for the typical teenager?

2. Would Quentin ultimately have been happier if he had chosen not to attend Brakebills?

3. Which character least typifies your vision of what a true magician would be? Explain.

4. What does Quentin’s encounter with Julia in the cemetery say about him?

5. During their time at Brakebills South, the aspiring magicians take the shape of a number of different animals. If it were a part of every human’s general education to spend some time as a particular animal, what animal should that be and why?

6. After the Brakebillians discover that Martin Chatwin is the beast, Alice tells Quentin, “you actually still believe in magic. You do realize, right, that nobody else does?” (p. 179). How does his faith differentiate him from his friends?

7. What do you make of Emily Greenstreet’s condemnation of magic, asserting “nobody can be touched by that much power without being corrupted?” (p. 399).

8. Jane Chatwin specifically chose Quentin for the task of vanquishing the beast, yet he isn’t the one who winds up killing him. Why?

9. Quentin says, “The problem with growing up is that once you’re grown up, people who aren’t grown up aren’t fun anymore.” (p. 197). Has Quentin grown up at the end of the novel or is he, like Martin and Jane, frozen in a chronological netherland?

10. Quentin seems, at times, to be a more potent magician than most of the Brakebills crew, skipping ahead a year in his studies and successfully making the journey to the South Pole. But his cacodemon is puny and he himself absolutely crumples once in Fillory. How powerful is he, really?

11. Janet is neither “the most assiduous student...nor the most naturally gifted” (p. 121). She’s also a troublemaker and a bit of a coward but it is Janet—and not Alice—who will return to be a queen in Fillory. What does her survival say?

12. Have you reread any of your favorite childhood novels as an adult? How did your understanding of the book change?

Heather | 8 comments 1. Coming from someone who always wished magic were real, I would have seen it as a gift. Perhaps I was not the average teenager, though. I also believe it depends on the kind of magic. The magic in this world is both a gift and a curse, whereas the magic in other worlds (I'm lookin at you, J.K.R.) is presented as nothing but a gift with the potential to do harm if used improperly.

2. I don't think Quentin would have been happy anywhere. If you can't be happy in a fantasy world, or at least come to realize that your disappointment in the fantasy world makes you appreciate your normal life more, I don't think there's much hope for you to be happy anywhere. Not until you learn to appreciate some things in life.

3. Either Quentin or Eliot. They rarely took pride or joy in what they did, they had no passion in anything magical, they just... did. I feel like a true magician would be passionate about his or her work and use it to benefit others or to live an exciting life. The lack of enthusiasm or interest in being a magician is what makes them less in my mind.

4. I'd have to read this part again to effectively answer this question, to be honest. I was too focused on Julia's manic state and wondering (knowing) if I would feel the same way if I had seen magic and been denied access to it.

5. I think every human should get the experience of being something much smaller and, in our minds, much more insignificant than ourselves. This could be a mouse, rabbit, or even a bug. Having the experience of being in a smaller, less significant position than we are used to helps to put things in perspective.

6. Honestly, that didn't make sense to me at all. Maybe I missed something or wasn't reading deeply enough. How could you spend five years surrounded by magic and not believe it? Again, perhaps something I should ponder or reread.

7. I think Emily is kind of right. In a way, magic even corrupted Quentin when he realized that it wasn't all he thought it would be.

8. Because Alice is better than Quentin. No really, Quentin stinks.

9. I don't think Quentin has entirely grown up yet. He's definitely stuck where he is, and doesn't know where to go from there. He's going through the motions of being an adult, but he still has the mind and ennui of a teen.

10. I think he takes his powers for granted. He obviously has talent, but his lack of enthusiasm and desire to progress with this talent stunt him.

11. That she is growing as a person. Also, sometimes, it's ok to be a coward and it's ok to be a daredevil. Alice's sacrifice was heroic, but that's not a choice that everyone would be willing to make.

12. I think Harry Potter is the only childhood novel that I've read again as an adult, but I've constantly been rereading them throughout my life. My understanding of the book became deeper as I got older, with the ability to see the overarching themes rather than just the basic plot lines.

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