Book review: The Magicians

Lev GrossmanIn the first sentence of The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Quentin Coldwater does a magic trick with a nickel. A human version of magic.

Another series about magic, I hear you ask? Well this is nothing like Harry Potter. Quentin is due to sit an entrance exam for Princeton when he wanders into the grounds of a mysterious school in upstate New York. In a large room full of unknown teenagers, he sits the oddest test he has ever known. Then he is told he has passed and is accepted at Brakebills, a school of magic. For the first few months his best friend is a glass marble on which he practises his magic.

This is an adult tale. Brakebills is not Hogwarts and Quentin is a young man on the cusp of adulthood, with lingering adolescent depression and lack of confidence. The teenage magicians practise their magic, get drunk and have sex. At his ‘youngest’ moments Quentin remembers the magical tales he loved as a child about a land called Fillory. When he is down, he wishes he could escape to Fillory. And at first, he thinks Brakebills might be Fillory. But it isn’t because Fillory, of course, is fictional.

There are three books in the series and out of necessity in this book Quentin learns his magic. There were times I wished it would move more quickly, the carrot of Fillory is dangled in front of Quentin so much. In Harry Potter – oh how Lev Grossman must be tired of the comparisons – the threat of Lord Voldemort hovers from the first pages. There is no dark threat hovering over Quentin, just teenage angst, teenage love, and a longing to escape his daily life into Fillory. When he does reach Fillory, will it be what he expects?

Read more about the Magicians Trilogy at Lev Grossman’s website here.

Lev Grossman

[photo: jonathan saunders]

If you like this, try:-
‘Divergent’ #1 by Veronica Roth
‘Insurgent’ #2 by Veronica Roth
‘Allegiant’ #3 by Veronica Roth

‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman [#1 Magicians Trilogy] [UK: Arrow] Buy now

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