The Magicians: discount wholesale A Novel (Magicians Trilogy) online

The Magicians: discount wholesale A Novel (Magicians Trilogy) online

The Magicians: discount wholesale A Novel (Magicians Trilogy) online
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The Magicians: discount wholesale A Novel (Magicians Trilogy) online_top

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Description

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The New York Times bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world, now an original series on SYFY

The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. . . . Hogwarts was never like this.”
—George R.R. Martin
 
“Sad, hilarious, beautiful, and essential to anyone who cares about modern fantasy.”
—Joe Hill
 
“A very knowing and wonderful take on the wizard school genre.”
—John Green
 
The Magicians may just be the most subversive, gripping and enchanting fantasy novel I’ve read this century.”
—Cory Doctorow

“This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels in order to upend them . . . an unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story.”
—The New Yorker

“The best urban fantasy in years.”
—A.V. Club


Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .

The prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller  The Magician''s Land, The Magicians is one of the most daring and inventive works of literary fantasy in years. No one who has escaped into the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter should miss this breathtaking return to the landscape of the imagination.

Review

The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. Solidly rooted in the traditions of both fantasy and mainstream literary fiction, the novel tips its hat to Oz and Narnia as well to Harry, but don’t mistake this for a children''s book. Grossman’s sensibilities are thoroughly adult, his narrative dark and dangerous and full of twists.  Hogwarts was never like this.”
—George R. R. Martin, bestselling author of A Game of Thrones
 
“This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels in order to upend them, and tell a darkly cunning story about the power of imagination itself. [ The Magicians is] an unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story.”
—The New Yorker
 
“Sad, hilarious, beautiful, and essential to anyone who cares about modern fantasy.”
—Joe Hill, author of Horns and Locke & Key
 
“If you like the Harry Potter books . . . you should also read Lev Grossman’s Magicians series, which is a very knowing and wonderful take on the wizard school genre.”
—John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars
 
“Fiercely intelligent.”
—William Gibson, author of Neuromancer
 
“Most people will like this book. But there’s a certain type of reader who will enjoy it down to the bottoms of their feet.”
—Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind
 
“Lev Grossman’s novel The Magicians may just be the most subversive, gripping, and enchanting fantasy novel I’ve read this century. . . . Grossman is a hell of a pacer, and the book rips along, whole seasons tossed out in a single sentence, all the boring mortar ground off the bricks, so that the book comes across as a sheer, seamless face that you can’t stop yourself from tumbling down once you launch yourself off the first page. This isn’t just an exercise in exploring what we love about fantasy and the lies we tell ourselves about it—it’s a shit-kicking, gripping, tightly plotted novel that makes you want to take the afternoon off work to finish it.”
—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
 
“Fresh and compelling. . . . The Magicians is a great fairy tale, written for grown-ups but appealing to our most basic desires for stories to bring about some re-enchantment with the world, where monsters lurk but where a young man with a little magic may prevail.”
—Washington Post
 
The Magicians is original . . . slyly funny.”
—USA Today
 
“Lev Grossman’s playful fantasy novel The Magicians pays homage to a variety of sources . . . with such verve and ease that you quickly forget the references and lose yourself in the story.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“The novel manages a literary magic trick: it’s both an enchantingly written fantasy and a moving deconstruction of enchantingly realized fantasies.”
—Los Angeles Times
 
“Intriguing, coming-of-age fantasy”
—Boston Globe (Pick of the Week)
 
“I felt like I was poppin’ peyote buttons with J. K. Rowling when I was reading Lev Grossman’s new novel The Magicians. . . . I couldn’t put it down.”
—Mickey Rapkin, GQ
 
“Sly and lyrical, [ The Magicians] captures the magic of childhood and the sobering years beyond.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“Through sheer storytelling grace and imaginative power, Lev Grossman [creates] an adventure that’s both enthralling and mature.”
—Details
 
“Mixing the magic of the most beloved children''s fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grown-ups. [It] breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know . . . and does what [some] claim books never really manage to do: ‘get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better.’ Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting.”
—Louisville Courier-Journal
 
The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a very entertaining book; one of those summer page-turners that you wish went on for another six volumes. Grossman takes a good number of the best childhood fantasy books from the last seventy-five years and distills their ability to fascinate into the fan-boy mind of his protagonist, Quentin Coldwater. . . . There is no doubt that this book is inventive storytelling and Grossman is at the height of his powers.”
—Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Entertaining.”
—People
 
“An irresistible storytelling momentum makes The Magicians a great summer book, both thoughtful and enchanting.”
—Salon.com
 
“Grossman skillfully moves us through four years of school and a postgraduate adventure, never letting the pace slacken . . . beguiling.”
—Seattle Times
 
“Stirring, complex, adventurous . . . from the life of Quentin Coldwater, his slacker Park Slope Harry Potter, Lev Grossman delivers superb coming of age fantasy.”
—Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize­–winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
 
The Magicians ought to be required reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with a fantasy series, or wished that they went to a school for wizards. Lev Grossman has written a terrific, at times almost painfully perceptive novel of the fantastic that brings to mind both Jay McInerney and J. K. Rowling.”
—Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen
 
“Fantasy fans can’t afford to miss the darkly comic and unforgettably queasy experience of reading this book—and be glad for reality.”
Booklist (Starred Review)
 
“This is a book for grown-up fans of children’s fantasy and would appeal to those who loved Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal (Starred Review)
 
“Very dark and very scary, with no simple answers provided—fantasy for grown-ups, in other words, and very satisfying indeed.”
—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Anyone who grew up reading about magical wardrobes and unicorns and talking trees before graduating to Less Than Zero and The Secret History and Bright Lights, Big City will immediately feel right at home with this smart, beautifully written book by Lev Grossman.  The Magicians is fantastic, in all senses of the word.  It’s strange, fanciful, extravagant, eccentric, and truly remarkable—a great story, masterfully told.”
—Scott Smith, bestselling author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan
 
The Magicians is a spellbinding, fast-moving, dark fantasy book for grownups that feels like an instant classic. I read it in a niffin-blue blaze of page turning, enthralled by Grossman’s verbal and imaginative wizardry, his complex characters, and, most of all, his superb, brilliant inquiry into the wondrous, dangerous world of magic.”
—Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner award winning author of The Great Man and The Epicure''s Lament
 
“Remember the last time you ran home to finish a book? This is it, folks. The Magicians is the most dazzling, erudite, and thoughtful fantasy novel to date. You’ll be bedazzled by the magic but also brought short by what it has to sayabout the world we live in.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook
 
The Magicians brilliantly explores the hidden underbelly of fantasy and easy magic, taking what’s simple on the surface and turning it over to show us the complicated writhing mess beneath. It’s like seeing the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter through a 3-D magnifying glass.”
—Naomi Novik, author of His Majesty’s Dragon

About the Author

LEV GROSSMAN is the book critic for Time magazine and author of five novels, including the international bestseller Codex and the #1 New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Lev Grossman, 2009

 

Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.

They picked their way along the cold, uneven sidewalk together: James, Julia, and Quentin. James and Julia held hands. That’s how things were now. The sidewalk wasn’t quite wide enough, so Quentin trailed after them, like a sulky child. He would rather have been alone with Julia, or just alone period, but you couldn’t have everything. Or at least the available evidence pointed overwhelmingly to that conclusion.

“Okay!” James said over his shoulder. “Q. Let’s talk strategy.”

James seemed to have a sixth sense for when Quentin was starting to feel sorry for himself. Quentin’s interview was in seven minutes. James was right after him.

“Nice firm handshake. Lots of eye contact. Then when he’s feeling comfortable, you hit him with a chair and I’ll break his password and e-mail Princeton.”

“Just be yourself, Q,” Julia said.

Her dark hair was pulled back in a wavy bunch. Somehow it made it worse that she was always so nice to him.

“How is that different from what I said?”

Quentin did the magic trick again. It was a very small trick, a basic one-handed sleight with a nickel. He did it in his coat pocket where nobody could see. He did it again, then he did it backward.

“I have one guess for his password,” James said. “Password.”

It was kind of incredible how long this had been going on, Quentin thought. They were only seventeen, but he felt like he’d known James and Julia forever. The school systems in Brooklyn sorted out the gifted ones and shoved them together, then separated the ridiculously brilliant ones from the merely gifted ones and shoved them together, and as a result they’d been bumping into each other in the same speaking contests and regional Latin exams and tiny, specially convened ultra-advanced math classes since elementary school. The nerdiest of the nerds. By now, their senior year, Quentin knew James and Julia better than he knew anybody else in the world, not excluding his parents, and they knew him. Everybody knew what everybody else was going to say before they said it. Everybody who was going to sleep with anybody else had already done it. Julia—pale, freckled, dreamy Julia, who played the oboe and knew even more physics than he did—was never going to sleep with Quentin.

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. His shoulder-length hair was freezing in clumps. He should have stuck around to dry it after gym, especially with his interview today, but for some reason—maybe he was in a self-sabotaging mood—he hadn’t. The low gray sky threatened snow. It seemed to Quentin like the world was offering up special little tableaux of misery just for him: crows perched on power lines, stepped-in dog shit, windblown trash, the corpses of innumerable wet oak leaves being desecrated in innumerable ways by innumerable vehicles and pedestrians.

“God, I’m full,” James said. “I ate too much. Why do I always eat too much?”

“Because you’re a greedy pig?” Julia said brightly. “Because you’re tired of being able to see your feet? Because you’re trying to make your stomach touch your penis?”

James put his hands behind his head, his fingers in his wavy chestnut hair, his camel cashmere coat wide open to the November cold, and belched mightily. Cold never bothered him. Quentin felt cold all the time, like he was trapped in his own private individual winter.

James sang, to a tune somewhere between “Good King Wenceslas” and “Bingo”:

 

In olden times there was a boy
Young and strong and brave-o
He wore a sword and rode a horse
And his name was Dave-o . . .

 

 

“God!” Julia shrieked. “Stop!”

James had written this song five years ago for a middle-school talent show skit. He still liked to sing it; by now they all knew it by heart. Julia shoved him, still singing, into a garbage can, and when that didn’t work she snatched off his watch cap and started beating him over the head with it.

“My hair! My beautiful interview hair!”

King James, Quentin thought. Le roi s’amuse.

“I hate to break up the party,” he said, “but we’ve got like two minutes.”

“Oh dear, oh dear!” Julia twittered. “The duchess! We shall be quite late!”

I should be happy, Quentin thought. I’m young and alive and healthy. I have good friends. I have two reasonably intact parents—viz., Dad, an editor of medical textbooks, and Mom, a commercial illustrator with ambitions, thwarted, of being a painter. I am a solid member of the middle-middle class. My GPA is a number higher than most people even realize it is possible for a GPA to be.

But walking along Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, in his black overcoat and his gray interview suit, Quentin knew he wasn’t happy. Why not? He had painstakingly assembled all the ingredients of happiness. He had performed all the necessary rituals, spoken the words, lit the candles, made the sacrifices. But happiness, like a disobedient spirit, refused to come. He couldn’t think what else to do.

He followed James and Julia past bodegas, laundromats, hipster boutiques, cell-phone stores limned with neon piping, past a bar where old people were already drinking at three forty-five in the afternoon, past a brown-brick Veterans of Foreign Wars hall with plastic patio furniture on the sidewalk in front of it. All of it just confirmed his belief that his real life, the life he should be living, had been mislaid through some clerical error by the cosmic bureaucracy. This couldn’t be it. It had been diverted somewhere else, to somebody else, and he’d been issued this shitty substitute faux life instead.

Maybe his real life would turn up in Princeton. He did the trick with the nickel in his pocket again.

“Are you playing with your wang, Quentin?” James asked.

Quentin blushed.

“I am not playing with my wang.”

“Nothing to be ashamed of.” James clapped him on the shoulder. “Clears the mind.”

The wind bit through the thin material of Quentin’s interview suit, but he refused to button his overcoat. He let the cold blow through it. It didn’t matter, he wasn’t really there anyway.

He was in Fillory.

 

 

Christopher Plover’s Fillory and Further is a series of five novels published in England in the 1930s. They describe the adventures of the five Chatwin children in a magical land that they discover while on holiday in the countryside with their eccentric aunt and uncle. They aren’t really on holiday, of course—their father is up to his hips in mud and blood at Passchendaele, and their mother has been hospitalized with a mysterious illness that is probably psychological in nature, which is why they’ve been hastily packed off to the country for safekeeping.

But all that unhappiness takes place far in the background. In the foreground, every summer for three years, the children leave their various boarding schools and return to Cornwall, and each time they do they find their way into the secret world of Fillory, where they have adventures and explore magical lands and defend the gentle creatures who live there against the various forces that menace them. The strangest and most persistent of those enemies is a veiled figure known only as the Watcherwoman, whose horological enchantments threaten to stall time itself, trapping all of Fillory at five o’clock on a particularly dreary, drizzly afternoon in late September.

Like most people Quentin read the Fillory books in grade school. Unlike most people—unlike James and Julia—he never got over them. They were where he went when he couldn’t deal with the real world, which was a lot. (The Fillory books were both a consolation for Julia not loving him and also probably a major reason why she didn’t.) And it was true, there was a strong whiff of the English nursery about them, and he felt secretly embarrassed when he got to the parts about the Cozy Horse, an enormous, affectionate equine creature who trots around Fillory by night on velvet hooves, and whose back is so broad you can sleep on it.

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.

The world Martin discovers in the walls of his aunt’s house is a world of magical twilight, a landscape as black and white and stark as a printed page, with prickly stubblefields and rolling hills crisscrossed by old stone walls. In Fillory there’s an eclipse every day at noon, and seasons can last for a hundred years. Bare trees scratch at the sky. Pale green seas lap at narrow white beaches made of broken shells. In Fillory things mattered in a way they didn’t in this world. In Fillory you felt the appropriate emotions when things happened. Happiness was a real, actual, achievable possibility. It came when you called. Or no, it never left you in the first place.

 

 

They stood on the sidewalk in front of the house. The neighborhood was fancier here, with wide sidewalks and overhanging trees. The house was brick, the only unattached residential structure in a neighborhood of row houses and brownstones. It was locally famous for having played a role in the bloody, costly Battle of Brooklyn. It seemed to gently reproach the cars and streetlights around it with memories of its gracious Old Dutch past.

If this were a Fillory novel—Quentin thought, just for the record—the house would contain a secret gateway to another world. The old man who lived there would be kindly and eccentric and drop cryptic remarks, and then when his back was turned Quentin would stumble on a mysterious cabinet or an enchanted dumbwaiter or whatever, through which he would gaze with wild surmise on the clean breast of another world.

But this wasn’t a Fillory novel.

“So,” Julia said. “Give ’em Hades.”

She wore a blue serge coat with a round collar that made her look like a French schoolgirl.

“See you at the library maybe.”

“Cheers.”

They bumped fists. She dropped her gaze, embarrassed. She knew how he felt, and he knew she knew, and there was nothing more to say about it. He waited, pretending to be fascinated by a parked car, while she kissed James good-bye—she put a hand on his chest and kicked up her heel like an old-timey starlet—then he and James walked slowly up the cement path to the front door.

James put his arm around Quentin’s shoulders.

“I know what you think, Quentin,” he said gruffly. Quentin was taller, but James was broader, more solidly built, and he pulled Quentin off balance. “You think nobody understands you. But I do.” He squeezed Quentin’s shoulder in an almost fatherly way. “I’m the only one who does.”

Quentin said nothing. You could envy James, but you couldn’t hate him, because along with being handsome and smart he was also, at heart, kind and good. More than anybody else Quentin had ever met, James reminded him of Martin Chatwin. But if James was a Chatwin, what did that make Quentin? 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.

Quentin rang the doorbell. A soft, tinny clatter erupted somewhere in the depths of the darkened house. An old-fashioned, analog ring. He rehearsed a mental list of his extracurriculars, personal goals, etc. He was absolutely prepared for this interview in every possible way, except maybe his incompletely dried hair, but now that the ripened fruit of all that preparation was right in front of him he suddenly lost any desire for it. He wasn’t surprised. He was used to this anticlimactic feeling, where by the time you’ve done all the work to get something you don’t even want it anymore. He had it all the time. It was one of the few things he could depend on.

The doorway was guarded by a depressingly ordinary suburban screen door. Orange and purple zinnias were still blooming, against all horticultural logic, in a random scatter pattern in black earth beds on either side of the doorstep. How weird, Quentin thought, with no curiosity at all, that they would still be alive in November. He withdrew his ungloved hands into the sleeves of his coat and placed the ends of the sleeves under his arms. Even though it felt cold enough to snow, somehow it began to rain.

It was still raining five minutes later. Quentin knocked on the door again, then pushed lightly. It opened a crack, and a wave of warm air tumbled out. The warm, fruity smell of a stranger’s house.

“Hello?” Quentin called. He and James exchanged glances. He pushed the door all the way open.

“Better give him another minute.”

“Who even does this in their spare time?” Quentin said. “I bet he’s a pedophile.”

The foyer was dark and silent and muffled with Oriental rugs. Still outside, James leaned on the doorbell. No one answered.

“I don’t think anybody’s here,” Quentin said. That James wasn’t coming inside suddenly made him want to go inside more. If the interviewer actually turned out to be a gatekeeper to the magical land of Fillory, he thought, it was too bad he wasn’t wearing more practical shoes.

A staircase went up. On the left was a stiff, unused-looking dining room, on the right a cozy den with leather armchairs and a carved, man-size wooden cabinet standing by itself in a corner. Interesting. An old nautical map taller than he was took up half of one wall, with an ornately barbed compass rose. He massaged the walls in search of a light switch. There was a cane chair in one corner, but he didn’t sit.

All the blinds were drawn. The quality of the darkness was less like a house with the curtains drawn than it was like actual night, as if the sun had set or been eclipsed the moment he crossed the threshold. Quentin slow-motion-walked into the den. He’d go back outside and call. In another minute. He had to at least look. The darkness was like a prickling electric cloud around him.

The cabinet was enormous, so big you could climb into it. He placed his hand on its small, dinged brass knob. It was unlocked. His fingers trembled. Le roi s’amuse. He couldn’t help himself. It felt like the world was revolving around him, like his whole life had been leading up to this moment.

It was a liquor cabinet. A big one, there was practically a whole bar in there. Quentin reached back past the ranks of softly jingling bottles and felt the dry, scratchy plywood at the back just to make sure. Solid. Nothing magical about it. He closed the door, breathing hard, his face burning in the darkness. It was when he looked around to make absolutely sure that nobody was watching that he saw the dead body on the floor.

 

 

Fifteen minutes later the foyer was full of people and activity. Quentin sat in a corner, in the cane chair, like a pallbearer at the funeral of somebody he’d never met. He kept the back of his skull pressed firmly against the cool solid wall like it was his last point of connection to a same reality. James stood next to him. He didn’t seem to know where to put his hands. They didn’t look at each other.

The old man lay flat on his back on the floor. His stomach was a sizable round hump, his hair a crazy gray Einstein half-noggin. Three paramedics crouched around him, two men and a woman. The woman was disarmingly, almost inappropriately pretty—she looked out of place in that grim scene, miscast. The paramedics were at work, but it wasn’t the high-speed clinical blitz of an emergency life-saving treatment. This was the other kind, the obligatory failed resuscitation. They were murmuring in low voices, packing up, ripping off adhesive patches, discarding contaminated sharps in a special container.

With a practiced, muscular movement one of the men de-intubated the corpse. The old man’s mouth was open, and Quentin could see his dead gray tongue. He smelled something that he didn’t want to admit was the faint, bitter odor of shit.

“This is bad,” James said, not for the first time.

“Yes,” Quentin said thickly. “Extremely bad.” His lips and teeth felt numb.

If he didn’t move, nobody could involve him in this any further. He tried to breathe slowly and keep still. He stared straight ahead, refusing to focus his eyes on what was happening in the den. He knew if he looked at James he would only see his own mental state reflected back at him in an infinite corridor of panic that led nowhere. He wondered when it would be all right for them to leave. He couldn’t get rid of a feeling of shame that he was the one who went into the house uninvited, as if that had somehow caused the man’s death.

“I shouldn’t have called him a pedophile,” Quentin said out loud. “That was wrong.”

“Extremely wrong,” James agreed. They spoke slowly, like they were both trying out language for the very first time.

One of the paramedics, the woman, stood up from where she was squatting by the body. Quentin watched her stretch, heels of her hands pressed to her lumbar region, tipping her head one way, then the other. Then she walked over in their direction, stripping off rubber gloves.

“Well,” she announced cheerfully, “he’s dead!” By her accent she was English.

Quentin cleared his clotted throat. The woman chucked the gloves neatly into the trash from across the room.

“What happened to him?”

“Cerebral hemorrhage. Nice quick way to go, if you have to go. Which he did. He must have been a drinker.”

She made the drinky-drinky gesture.

Her cheeks were flushed from crouching down over the body. She might have been twenty-five at most, and she wore a dark blue short-sleeved button-down shirt, neatly pressed, with one button that didn’t match: a stewardess on the connecting flight to hell. Quentin wished she weren’t so attractive. Unpretty women were so much easier to deal with in some ways—you didn’t have to face the pain of their probable unattainability. But she was not unpretty. She was pale and thin and unreasonably lovely, with a broad, ridiculously sexy mouth.

“Well.” Quentin didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?” she said. “Did you kill him?”

“I’m just here for an interview. He did alumni interviews for Princeton.”

“So why do you care?”

Quentin hesitated. He wondered if he’d misunderstood the premise of this conversation. He stood up, which he should have done when she first came over anyway. He was much taller than her. Even under the circumstances, he thought, this person is carrying around a lot of attitude for a paramedic. It’s not like she’s a real doctor or anything. He wanted to scan her chest for a name tag but didn’t want to get caught looking at her breasts.

“I don’t actually care about him, personally,” Quentin said carefully, “but I do place a certain value on human life in the abstract. So even though I didn’t know him, I think I can say that I’m sorry that he’s dead.”

“What if he was a monster? Maybe he really was a pedophile.”

She’d overheard him.

“Maybe. Maybe he was a nice guy. Maybe he was a saint.”

“Maybe.”

“You must spend a lot of time around dead people.” Out of the corner of his eye he was vaguely aware that James was watching this exchange, baffled.

“Well, you’re supposed to keep them alive. Or that’s what they tell us.”

“It must be hard.”

“The dead ones are a lot less trouble.”

“Quieter.”

“Exactly.”

The look in her eyes didn’t quite match what she was saying. She was studying him.

“Listen,” James cut in. “We should probably go.”

“What’s your hurry?” she said. Her eyes hadn’t left Quentin’s. Unlike practically everybody, she seemed more interested in him than in James. “Listen, I think this guy might have left something for you.”

She picked up two manila envelopes, document-size, off a marble-topped side table. Quentin frowned.

“I don’t think so.”

“We should probably go,” James said.

“You said that already,” the paramedic said.

James opened the door. The cold air was a pleasant shock. It felt real. That was what Quentin needed: more reality. Less of this, whatever this was.

“Seriously,” the woman said. “I think you should take these. It might be important.”

Her eyes wouldn’t leave Quentin’s face. The day had gone still around them. It was chilly on the stoop, and getting a little damp, and he was roughly ten yards away from a corpse.

“Listen, we’re gonna go,” James was saying. “Thanks. I’m sure you did everything you could.”

The pretty paramedic’s dark hair was in two heavy ropes of braid. She wore a shiny yellow enamel ring and some kind of fancy silver antique wristwatch. Her nose and chin were tiny and pointy. She was a pale, skinny, pretty angel of death, and she held two manila envelopes with their names on them in block Magic Marker letters. Probably transcripts, confidential recommendations. For some reason, maybe just because he knew James wouldn’t, Quentin took the one with his name on it.

“All right! Good-bye!” the paramedic sang. She twirled back into the house and closed the door. They were alone on the stoop.

“Well,” James said. He inhaled through his nose and breathed out firmly.

Quentin nodded, as if he were agreeing with something James had said. Slowly they walked back up the path to the sidewalk. He still felt dazed. He didn’t especially want to talk to James.

“Listen,” James said. “You probably shouldn’t have that.”

“I know,” Quentin said.

“You could still put it back, you know. I mean, what if they found out?”

“How would they find out?”

“I don’t know.”

“Who knows what’s in here? Could come in useful.”

“Yeah, well, lucky thing that guy died then!” James said irritably.

They walked to the end of the block without speaking, annoyed at each other and not wanting to admit it. The slate sidewalk was wet, and the sky was white with rain. Quentin knew he probably shouldn’t have taken the envelope. He was pissed at himself for taking it and pissed at James for not taking his.

“Look, I’ll see you later,” James said. “I gotta go meet Jules at the library.”

“Right.”

They shook hands formally. It felt strangely final. Quentin walked away slowly down First Street. A man had died in the house he just left. He was still in a dream. He realized—more shame—that underneath it all he was relieved that he didn’t have to do his Princeton interview today after all.

The day was darkening. The sun was setting already behind the gray shell of cloud that covered Brooklyn. For the first time in an hour he thought about all the things he had left to do today: physics problem set, history paper, e-mail, dishes, laundry. The weight of them was dragging him back down the gravity well of the ordinary world. He would have to explain to his parents what happened, and they would, in some way he could never grasp, and therefore could never properly rebut, make him feel like it was his fault. It would all go back to normal. He thought of Julia and James meeting at the library. She would be working on her Western Civ paper for Mr. Karras, a six-week project she would complete in two sleepless days and nights. As ardently as he wished that she were his, and not James’s, he could never quite imagine how he would win her. In the most plausible of his many fantasies James died, unexpectedly and painlessly, leaving Julia behind to sink softly weeping into his arms.

As he walked Quentin unwound the little red-threaded clasp that held shut the manila envelope. He saw immediately that it wasn’t his transcript, or an official document of any kind. The envelope held a notebook. It was old-looking, its corners squashed and rubbed till they were smooth and round, its cover foxed.

The first page, handwritten in ink, read:

 

The Magicians
Book Six of Fillory and Further

 

 

The ink had gone brown with age. The Magicians was not the name of any book by Christopher Plover that Quentin knew of. And any good nerd knew that there were only five books in the Fillory series.

When he turned the page a piece of white notepaper, folded over once, flew out and slipped away on the wind. It clung to a wrought-iron area fence for a second before the wind whipped it away again.

There was a community garden on the block, a triangular snippet of land too narrow and weirdly shaped to be snapped up by developers. With its ownership a black hole of legal ambiguity, it had been taken over years ago by a collective of enterprising neighbors who had trucked out the acid sand native to Brooklyn and replaced it with rich, fertile loam from upstate. For a while they’d raised pumpkins and tomatoes and spring bulbs and raked out little Japanese serenity gardens, but lately they’d neglected it, and hardy urban weeds had taken root instead. They were running riot and strangling their frailer, more exotic competitors. It was into this tangled thicket that the note flew and disappeared.

This late in the year all the plants were dead or dying, even the weeds, and Quentin waded into them hip-deep, dry stems catching on his pants, his leather shoes crunching brown broken glass. It crossed his mind that the note might just possibly contain the hot paramedic’s phone number. The garden was narrow, but it went surprisingly far back. There were three or four sizable trees in it, and the farther in he pushed the darker and more overgrown it got.

He caught a glimpse of the note, up high, plastered against a trellis encrusted with dead vines. It could clear the back fence before he caught up with it. His phone rang: his dad. Quentin ignored it. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw something flit past behind the bracken, large and pale, but when he turned his head it was gone. He pushed past the corpses of gladiolas, petunias, shoulder-high sunflowers, rosebushes—brittle, stiff stems and flowers frozen in death into ornate toile patterns.

He would have thought he’d gone all the way through to Seventh Avenue by now. He shoved his way even deeper in, brushing up against who knew what toxic flora. A case of poison fucking ivy, that’s all he needed now. It was odd to see that here and there among the dead plants a few vital green stalks still poked up, drawing sustenance from who knew where. He caught a whiff of something sweet in the air.

He stopped. All of a sudden it was quiet. No car horns, no stereos, no sirens. His phone had stopped ringing. It was bitter cold, and his fingers were numb. Turn back or go on? He squeezed farther in through a hedge, closing his eyes and squinching up his face against the scratchy twigs. He stumbled over something, an old stone. He felt suddenly nauseous. He was sweating.

When he opened his eyes again he was standing on the edge of a huge, wide, perfectly level green lawn surrounded by trees. The smell of ripe grass was overpowering. There was hot sun on his face.

The sun was at the wrong angle. And where the hell were the clouds? The sky was a blinding blue. His inner ear spun sickeningly. He held his breath for a few seconds, then expelled freezing winter air from his lungs and breathed in warm summer air in its place. It was thick with floating pollen. He sneezed.

In the middle distance beyond the wide lawn a large house stood, all honey-colored stone and gray slate, adorned with chimneys and gables and towers and roofs and sub-roofs. In the center, over the main house, was a tall, stately clock tower that struck even Quentin as an odd addition to what otherwise looked like a private residence. The clock was in the Venetian style: a single barbed hand circling a face with twenty-four hours marked on it in Roman numerals. Over one wing rose what looked like the green oxidized-copper dome of an observatory. Between house and lawn was a series of inviting landscaped terraces and spinneys and hedges and fountains.

Quentin was pretty sure that if he stood very still for a few seconds everything would snap back to normal. He wondered if he was undergoing some dire neurological event. He looked cautiously back over his shoulder. There was no sign of the garden behind him, just some big leafy oak trees, the advance guard of what looked like a pretty serious forest. A rill of sweat ran down his rib cage from his left armpit. It was hot.

Quentin dropped his bag on the turf and shrugged out of his overcoat. A bird chirped languidly in the silence. Fifty feet away a tall skinny teenager was leaning against a tree, smoking a cigarette and watching him.

He looked about Quentin’s age. He wore a button-down shirt with a sharp collar and very thin, very pale pink stripes. He didn’t look at Quentin, just dragged on his cigarette and exhaled into the summer air. The heat didn’t seem to bother him.

“Hey,” Quentin called.

Now he looked over. He raised his chin at Quentin, once, but didn’t answer.

Quentin walked over, as nonchalantly as he could. He really didn’t want to look like somebody who had no idea what was going on. Even without his coat on he was sweating like a bastard. He felt like an overdressed English explorer trying to impress a skeptical tropical native. But there was something he had to ask.

“Is this—?” Quentin cleared his throat. “So is this Fillory?” He squinted against the bright sun.

The young man looked at Quentin very seriously. He took another long drag on his cigarette, then he shook his head slowly, blowing out the smoke.

“Nope,” he said. “Upstate New York.”

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Top reviews from the United States

Nicole
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
and I''m sad to report this is one case where the show ...
Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2017
I have thought long and hard about what to say about this book. I began it after watching a some of the episodes of the TV show, and I''m sad to report this is one case where the show is far, far better than the book ever managed to be. Objectively, there is... See more
I have thought long and hard about what to say about this book. I began it after watching a some of the episodes of the TV show, and I''m sad to report this is one case where the show is far, far better than the book ever managed to be.

Objectively, there is little wrong with the book itself. The writing is, for the most part, decent, even if the author has the infuriating tendency to tell, not show. Yes, the pacing manages to be laborious, even when skipping months at a time, but other books have that problem and still manage to be decent.

The fundamental problem of this book is that nothing happens. At all. There''s something to be said for a book exploring the life of the everyman, to whom nothing of import happens, instead of a mythic hero, but that''s not what''s going on here. Many things - wonderful things - happen to the main character, Q. He learns magic, travels to other worlds, falls in love but, throughout it all, he rejects them. Nothing is good enough for him. His magic isn''t magical enough. His lover is boring. And so he continues to tell himself he''s meant for something better, all he while failing to live up to what minor expectations are put on him at all.

There is no character growth. Q remains the whiny, entitled, depressed child he was at the beginning of the book, only with a whole host of new, wonderful things to go on about, at the end. He lauds himself for making such good choices and goes off and does the opposite for no adequately explored reason. He tells himself he''s better than everyone and fails to see he''s the least of them, even after encountering gods and genuinely decent people. If anything, he revels in the depression this causes him, almost to the point of glorifying untreated mental illness.

The characters with the most potential are hardly explored at all, with most appearing to be written out by the end of the book.

The "villain" - indeed, the overarching "plot" itself - seems like an afterthought, as if the author wrote a book about your average wizard and realized he needed an actual reason for someone to read it. Indeed, the author uses the "villain"''s appearance at the end of the novel as a chance to be preachy, going on about how getting what you want is awful because it always ends up badly, and how having emotions is terrible because you might get hurt, tacked on as if an afterthought.

None of this even begins to touch the magical worlds the author has built. Rather than being a "Hogwarts for adults", as advertised, we are given a magical college that somehow manages to be more dull than any real college ever attended, and people who are, to varying degrees, obsessed with a slightly less Christian allegory version of Narnia. Neither are flushed out to anything close to the degree Hogwarts (or Middle Earth or Narnia) was, so that instead of a "magical world that feels real" that could have possibly redeemed the rest of the book, we get a suggestion of a magical world as seen through fogged glasses from a distance.

In short, I have never encountered anything that was such a waste of time. I can''t even bring myself to properly hate the book because there is nothing, fundamentally, to hate. It just is. And for that reason alone it becomes the new #1 on my "Books Never To Read Again And Keep The Rest Of The World From Reading At All Costs" list, above books I''ve outright loathed, because there is nothing to enjoy and even less to hate.
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JADStin
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Ugh-terrible
Reviewed in the United States on October 30, 2018
I read a lot so maybe I''m expecting too much in a book but, my god, there is not a single original idea in this story at all. The entire time I read it (it was for a book club and I''d be damned if I didn''t finish it) was just a painfully contrived regurgitation of other,... See more
I read a lot so maybe I''m expecting too much in a book but, my god, there is not a single original idea in this story at all. The entire time I read it (it was for a book club and I''d be damned if I didn''t finish it) was just a painfully contrived regurgitation of other, more creative, author''s works. It''s Narnia meets Hogwarts only with less interesting characters and more sloppy world building. No way I''ll be able to get through another one of these novels.

If you don''t read much and you''re into the angst and self-indulgence of the most obnoxious of teenage pity, this might just be the book for you!
85 people found this helpful
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K Reviews
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Adult Magic School - Not Quite Hogwarts (or Narnia)
Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2018
This is not exactly an unknown gem, having been adapted as a popular show on SyFy. It''s often summarized as Adult Harry Potter meets Narnia. There are certainly some notes of both that give rise to the quick explanation, but it''s not exactly accurate. Although the cast... See more
This is not exactly an unknown gem, having been adapted as a popular show on SyFy. It''s often summarized as Adult Harry Potter meets Narnia. There are certainly some notes of both that give rise to the quick explanation, but it''s not exactly accurate. Although the cast is largely late-high school to college age, I would advise you not to fall into the trap of thinking this is a "New Adult" book (whatever that''s supposed to be). The prose is excellent an the characters are all too realistic.

There was a lot packed into this book - to me it could easily have been broken up and expanded into at least two books, if not a full trilogy itself. We start with meeting our protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, an extremely smart high school student in New York. He''s not rich and he doesn''t have the girl he wants and he''s not happy. Unfortunately, the last part of that sentence - he''s not happy - will practically be the theme of the book. No matter what twists and turns come up, no matter what Quentin accomplishes, who he is with, how he seeks happiness - he never quite seems to grasp it.

There is a magic school for the gifted - it''s not Hogwarts. This magic school is called Brakebills and it''s hidden away in upstate New York. There''s a game only played at the magic schools (only a few in the world) - called welters (it''s not quidditch). I will give the author credit - the comparisons are pretty unavoidable, so the author embraced that by giving a few sideways winks to Harry Potter in the text. The first chunk of the book really revolves around the magic school and training to be a magician.

The second part of the book sees Quentin and his friends traveling through portal and the place they end up seems to be a fictional world called Fillory that Quentin and his friends all read about and loved as kids (somewhat Narnia-esque). Getting to and from Fillory, and finding why they are in Fillory does not go so smoothly.

Quentin is a very realistically drawn character. He''s unfulfilled, he''s angsty, he''s never happy with what he has, he''s not particularly heroic or physically gifted. He''s smart but not the smartest person out there, not even within his circle of (also mentally gifted) friends. There''s addiction issues among Quentin and his friends, not to mention a lot of emotional abuse and sexual promiscuity that ends up causing emotional issues. Although Quentin is an eminently believable character, he''s not someone that leaves you feeling inspired or with a warm and fuzzy feeling. He''s so wrapped up in his own unhappiness it makes it hard to connect with him.
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Samantha H.
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Some minor spoilers to follow:
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2018
I made it to the 40% mark before I couldn''t slog through anymore. If there are redeeming qualities to this novel, they must be hiding out in the second half somewhere. I am, clearly, not the target audience for this book. I''m not sure who the target audience would be,... See more
I made it to the 40% mark before I couldn''t slog through anymore. If there are redeeming qualities to this novel, they must be hiding out in the second half somewhere. I am, clearly, not the target audience for this book. I''m not sure who the target audience would be, though, because Quentin is pretty clearly Grossman''s self-indulgent author insert and not an actual character. The prolific cursing is supposed to be adding a "gritty" feel to the narrative, but I don''t think it always succeeds. After about the second chapter, it loses a lot of its punch. Most of this book feels like the author is striving for realism and just being pretentiously douchey instead. Also, nobody is excited to learn magic. No part of the magic is fun; everything is just sucky and miserable, and none of these perfectionist kids even enjoy the work because it''s just so hard and life is pain and blah blah blah.

Yawn. No thanks, I''ll pass.

Other things that I disliked about this novel include: every time a female character is described, which is weird at best and grossly sexist at worst. Oh, and it never gets any better, or any less obnoxiously in-your-face; every woman is pretty, or curvy, or attractive, or has "big gropable tits." Like, yeah, I know that Quentin is a seventeen year old boy, but the author can choose not to make him a tool who comments on the sexual availability of every female character who shows up. This is made worse by the fact that Quentin whines about being friend zoned by Julia, who had the audacity to like another boy even though Quentin was "so nice" to her, and Grossman decides to have her get raped later in the book (by a Demon God, and she gets pregnant from it and it gives her powers???? I wish I was making this up), and Quentin screws Alice while they''re both transformed as Arctic foxes in their Fourth Year (no, they are not in a relationship, and he describes her as having "terror in her dark fox eyes" while it''s happening, but whatever ''cause they date after that for a while, y''know, before Grossman kills her for being better at magic than him, I guess??). So much ew.

The discovery of Eliot''s secret infantilism/age play kinks and non-hetero sexuality was a little unexpected, not gonna lie. But, uh, huzzah for queer representation, I guess. But bummer about the homophobic slut-shaming that comes up later (like, over and over again...). Oh, and the line about how Q wishes Eliot had asked him to put him on his knees instead of getting that upperclassman to do it? Not foreshadowing. Q is straight. (And I''m just so confused, honestly, because Eliot''s face is described as being so weird that Quentin thinks a nurse may have mishandled Eliot with the forceps during delivery, so it''s not like Eliot is just preternaturally hot and everybody wants him; if Quentin isn''t on the queer spectrum, what was that line even about??).

Minor, personal gripe: Amanda Orloff can''t possibly be the daughter of a five-star Army general if her dad is American, unless her dad is Omar Bradley, who died in 1953. This was a dumb way to try to bring in someone tough with a faux military background so we could compare her Army-brat gruffness to Alice''s fragile femininity (and damn is Alice fragile and waifish; Grossman mentions it so many times that if you turned it into a drinking game, you would definitely die from alcohol poisoning).
82 people found this helpful
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My Two Cents
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
SO MUCH VULGARITY
Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2018
I read so many reviews liking this book to Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia that alone made me want to read this. Unfortunately this book fell short in oh so many ways. Probably a fourth of the way thru or so, the vulgarity came and boy once it came it... See more
I read so many reviews liking this book to Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia that alone made me want to read this.

Unfortunately this book fell short in oh so many ways. Probably a fourth of the way thru or so, the vulgarity came and boy once it came it just never stopped.

I can''t stand reading books where I don''t care for the main characters... and this is one of them.

I read this whole book and don''t feel like I read an actual story. This book...this one book contains the entire 5 year stay at their school of magic... which had so much promise had the author actually done something with that avenue instead of putting the pedal to the metal all the way thru.

It''s a shame I went into this with such high expectations... I own the 2nd and 3rd books but I sure am not ready to dive into them.... so that right there tells you something.
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Dee ArrTop Contributor: Harry Potter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Characterizations Propel Magical Story to Somewhere Special
Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2018
I’m always searching for that novel that takes me somewhere new, breaching new walls and giving me something I didn’t have before. “The Magicians” is one of those novels. I subtitled the Syfy Channel series “Harry Potter on Steroids,” but quite honestly, magic... See more
I’m always searching for that novel that takes me somewhere new, breaching new walls and giving me something I didn’t have before. “The Magicians” is one of those novels.

I subtitled the Syfy Channel series “Harry Potter on Steroids,” but quite honestly, magic is the only similarity between the two series. Author Lev Grossman’s book is a darker, more intensive look at the world of magic and those who inhabit it. Readers only spend about half the book at Quentin’s school, Brakebills, with the rest of the book focusing on the quest? mystery? that Mr. Grossman teases us with through the beginning sections.

Characterizations are one of the highlights. Hardly any of what you might refer to as the “good” characters are nice people. Actually, they are all-too-human, and we see all their warts and imperfections. Quentin Coldwater is an interesting character. While it is possible at times to identify with him, at other moments it is almost impossible not to act on the desire to give him a good thrashing. By the end of the book, the author has done such a wonderful job with all the main characters – Quentin, Alice, Jane, Eliot, and even Josh – that readers may feel these are old friends they’ve known for years.

Mr. Grossman deftly weaves the different plotlines in an intricate mix, effortlessly blending the various side stories and neatly wrapping everything together by the story’s end. What could easily have been just another story of a magical person at a magical school who battles magical evil people has been transformed into a story that focuses on Quentin and his struggle to discover what, if anything, will make him truly happy. That magic and a fantastic story has been wrapped around Quentin’s tale only makes the book that much better. While some may find the adult language offensive, I thought it was essential to the realism and characterizations.

“The Magicians” combines all the essentials – plot, characters, and just plain old good writing – into one of those special books. It is not magic, yet there is something magical that compels me to purchase the next two books in the series. Five stars.
35 people found this helpful
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CConn
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Was really disappointed
Reviewed in the United States on March 27, 2018
I really looked forward to this book because I saw the first season of the TV show. Books are always better that the movies, right? Well, in this case, I was really disappointed. The story just didn''t flow at all. Some things were not explained at all or just as an after... See more
I really looked forward to this book because I saw the first season of the TV show. Books are always better that the movies, right? Well, in this case, I was really disappointed. The story just didn''t flow at all. Some things were not explained at all or just as an after thought to add in somewhere. The story had so many holes and missing pieces, and it just skipped around. I really wanted to like this book, but I can''t put myself thru reading the next one. A big disappointment.
28 people found this helpful
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MyOwnWorld2100
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
No Apologies, I Enjoyed Reading The Magicians
Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2017
I had not heard of this book series until the SyFy Channel made it into a TV show. I loved the show, so I began to read the books. This book is very probably for high school/college as the story centers around a group of students who made it into Brakebills a school of... See more
I had not heard of this book series until the SyFy Channel made it into a TV show. I loved the show, so I began to read the books. This book is very probably for high school/college as the story centers around a group of students who made it into Brakebills a school of magic, and not the saw a lady in half type, but one where you could learn a spell to saw a lady in half without a saw. The personal issues that this age group has is woven into the story but does not distract from the trials and tribulations of them learning magic.
Quinton, the story''s main character is miserable in Brooklyn and in high school. Parents are parents. He goes for an interview for an ivy league college, finds the interviewer dead, is given a note by an EMT at the scene. He reads the note, wind blows it down an alley, he chases it and finds himself in a cloaked part of the city and Brakebills. He under goes a magic entrance exam which he passes and without graduating from high school finds himself studying college. He is so happy. Of course, it''s not all rainbows and unicorns there are some dark happenings at Brakebills, secrets and lies. Sex, drugs and drinking just like college.
His journey from beginner to graduate and the students he hooks up with and the learning of magic is very compelling.
This is a good read if you''ve seen the TV series or not. Helped explain some things to me about the show. It''s always nice to have a book.
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Top reviews from other countries

angus
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Believe the 1 * reviews is what''s most important to know...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2020
I''m not going to say much about this - just enough, hopefully, to convince future would-be readers to save their time and money, I hope. Basically, everything my fellow 1 * reviewers said is accurate. For some odd reason that I can''t explain, I read all of this and I''d...See more
I''m not going to say much about this - just enough, hopefully, to convince future would-be readers to save their time and money, I hope. Basically, everything my fellow 1 * reviewers said is accurate. For some odd reason that I can''t explain, I read all of this and I''d resolved some time ago to go with my gut when I suspect I''m reading dross and stop before wasting any more of my time. The only explanation I can come up with is that the pace does kind of sweep the reader along - the only problem is, it doesn''t really sweep you to anywhere. It was like reading a Narnia-set novel for young adults complete with all the unpleasant arrogance, angst and awkward sex, but missing any real action, empathetic characters or dynamic and interesting storyline - a real conundrum, but seriously - leave it - it''s dross.
14 people found this helpful
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Georgiana89
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
some strange plotting and pacing decisions, but a compelling read all the same
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 16, 2018
This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages, but which I’ve heard very mixed things about. From what I’ve seen, people seem to either love it or hate it. I was closer to the love end of the spectrum, but I definitely didn’t think it was a perfect read. The premise is...See more
This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages, but which I’ve heard very mixed things about. From what I’ve seen, people seem to either love it or hate it. I was closer to the love end of the spectrum, but I definitely didn’t think it was a perfect read. The premise is straightforward but intriguing: a mash-up of Harry Potter (wizard school) and Narnia (portals to other worlds) but with modern, American, adult protagonists. On the whole, it delivers quite well on this, with a nice blend of magic and realism. It definitely kept me engaged. For me, the main problem was the plotting and pacing. The two homages took up about half the book each and had little to do with each other, which made it feel a bit disjointed and made it harder to suspend disbelief. And then certain plots points seemed to be rushed over – most strikingly, four years of magic school in half a book – while others were lingered on. And for a book with so much going on, there was a surprising lack of plot, though I did enjoy the way that several elements were ultimately wrapped up and brought together. Overall, I would recommend this, and I plan to read the sequel in due course, but I’m not rushing to pick it up.
6 people found this helpful
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Victoria
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Perfect adult fantasy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2016
Every lover of fantasy books is looking to immerse themselves in a world rich with imagination, peopled with memorable characters, a plot that satisfyingly balances action with description, and where serious concerns are leavened with a light touch of well observed humour ....See more
Every lover of fantasy books is looking to immerse themselves in a world rich with imagination, peopled with memorable characters, a plot that satisfyingly balances action with description, and where serious concerns are leavened with a light touch of well observed humour . “The Magicians” series is a superlative fulfillment for those desires. Almost any review of these books will mention that they are derivative. And it’s true that the books could be subtitled “The Famous Five become geeky teenagers, study at Hogworts and then visit Narnia”. But just because something is a remake or a homage, doesn’t make it bad art. Picasso reworked Velazquez’ “Las Meninas” and created a masterpiece. Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins updated “Romeo and Juliet” to 1950’s New York and so created the powerful and enduring musical “West Side Story”. E. L James wrote fan fiction for the Twilight series and, well, created a whole new genre. The references that Grossman makes to other giant works of fiction only underscore one of the key themes – which is the role that beloved works of fiction can play in a reader’s life – from being a source of inspiration to acting as a ever-dependable friend and support in difficult times. The Fillory stories not only provide the central character, Quentin, with entertainment in his youth, but in times of despair he turns to them as a source of comfort, a mental blankie under which he can take refuge against the world. One can only assume that Grossman bases Quentin’s profound love for the Fillory books on his own experience of being transported by similar fantasy works. The premise of the books is “what would happen if a modern urban teenager suddenly entered Hogwarts / Narnia, with all his modern teenage neuroses and limitations”. The internal journey that Quentin undergoes is as important to the plot as the adventures that the characters experience – finding peace with himself and acceptance of his place in the world. The books can be seen as a metaphor for the experience of many real life generation X-ers – the world they find themselves is extraordinary, rich, full of opportunity, and compared with the world of say, 100 years ago, full of magic. The ability to communicate with someone miles away through a small handheld device, to search for information on almost any topic, to hold a video conference call, to find directions to your destination from wherever you are, with accuracy down to scant metres – these technologies are nothing short of magic if one can imagine viewing them through the eyes of a person living 100 years ago. Quentin’s personal difficulties should resonate with everyone who has felt unfulfilled while ostensibly living a comfortable life: even with all the gifts and wonder in the world available to you, why does happiness elude you. Quentin’s complaint that “it wasn’t what thought it would be” may sound frighteningly familiar. As Quentin discovers, blaming external circumstances does not solve the problem. Quentin only truly comes into his power when he accepts things, and himself, for what they are. The message here is that happiness comes from our internal journey and acceptance of ourselves, not our access to external wonders, now matter how magnificent. The subtle genius of this series is that the combination of influences is NOT an obvious one. It just seems that way because of Lev Grossman’s incredible imagination and the strength of his writing. The world he conjures is rich in detail and ideas, which, while riffing off the masterpieces that have gone before, nevertheless transports you to a new and vibrant universe. His writing is so strong that it disappears and allows the reader to fully enter the story without the distraction of poor prose or clunky similes. And what a world! Grossman launches off the base idea of “a school for magic” and “a world of talking creatures” to create a world so inventive and coherent that you have to make an effort to step back to appreciate just how imaginative it is. The plot and pacing are tight, and there is an acerbic humour that works like a slice of lemon in a gin and tonic.
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A. S. Thurley-Ratcliff
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
At first it seemed fun...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 27, 2020
At first it seemed fun but then it degenerated into a misanthropic and slightly unbelievable (even within this imaginary world) meat-tale. The lead characters are initially ones you can feel sympathy for but then they become twisted and unconvincingly hardened. So, if you...See more
At first it seemed fun but then it degenerated into a misanthropic and slightly unbelievable (even within this imaginary world) meat-tale. The lead characters are initially ones you can feel sympathy for but then they become twisted and unconvincingly hardened. So, if you like a bit of Highsmith in your fantasy that''s ok... It also had too many moments of unnecessary whimsy. Less would definitely have been more whatever the other fans of Grossman say. Just trying to do too much in one novel and I won''t be reading more.
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Franz Lang
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Book about existential angst in young adults
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 14, 2020
This book is a weird one. First I thought it was trying to be a more mature version of Harry Potter and I got hooked. However at the end of the book I found that I was pretty disappointed. The story lacks a major plotline and focuses mostly on the existential angst of the...See more
This book is a weird one. First I thought it was trying to be a more mature version of Harry Potter and I got hooked. However at the end of the book I found that I was pretty disappointed. The story lacks a major plotline and focuses mostly on the existential angst of the protagonist and the other unlikeable and extremely self-absorbed characters, who all felt very one dimensional to me. No real character development, a hodge podge of badly connected subplots and a magic system that has potential but is mostly neglected. I read the sample of the first chapter of the second book at the end and using the final words there: "disappointment and despair"
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