Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman


When a series I have lived and loved comes to an end, I feel a new hole carve it’s way into my heart.  I experience shortness of breath.  I become melancholic knowing that once the final chapter is read, once that page is turned, it’s over.  Of course rereading is plausible, but the tense feeling of wonderment and curiosity is close to being depleted.  Naturally, when this happens, the only logical course of action is to get back on the horse, find a new series and attempt to fill those holes.

I first came across Lev Grossman’s The Magicians under the employee recommendation section at my local B&N.  Thank you Lauren from Barnes and Noble for the excellent recommendation!

Quentin Coldwater is the normal Brooklyn Teenager readily awaiting his admission into Princeton University.  Constantly playing in the shadow of his best friend James, Quentin has always felt the absence of a purpose in life.  Sure, he’s a reasonably good-looking Ivy League candidate, yet an indescribable hole is ever present.

After Quentin finds his Princeton entrance interviewer dead, he receives a mysterious envelope and discovers a parallel world where magic is law.  Quentin is thrusted into this new world that he hopes can help fill the vacant purpose in his life.

Quentin begins life at Brakebills, a college for the magically inclined.  Here, Quentin discovers that magic isn’t just a flick of the wrist.  It requires tedious studying and focus. Quentin meets a group of friends while at Brakebills that help shape his life as he knows it.

The Magicians is a fantasy novel for the ages.  Balancing the life of a college student and also a young magician is the task that Grossman took on with this book.  He addresses themes unseen in young adult fantasy novels before.  The New York Times said The Magicians “could crudely be labeled a Harry Potter for adults.”  Some commonalities between the two are evident, however I feel as is Rowling’s supreme story telling prowess trumps Grossman’s novel.  With that being said, The Magicians still packs a punch with it’s page turning storyline and superior character development.

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians lays a fine foundation for a great new fantasy series.  A sequel titled The Magician King is set to be published this fall.




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