Posted: June 13, 2017 in Book Reviews

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

402 pages

This is the first of a 3 book series call the Magicians trilogy and the first one I have read by Lev Grossman.

Like most books it comes covered with tons of praises. Several pages in fact of praise. As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover, nor should you judge a book by its praise.

But first a brief plot summary.

Quentin, our main character is a highly intelligent and miserably depressed kid who gets the chance of a life time to attend a school of magic which he inadvertently stumbles into. He soon learns he is a magician, not the parlor, card tricks kind of magician bu able to use true magic.

After he graduates he finds him self with no purpose in life and spirals into severe depression with no direction in life. He becomes a drunk, drug addict spending all this time partying and really just getting no where in life, that is until  Penny, his old school friend, or rather frenemy shows up and tells him he has a way to travel to a secret magical world through use of a magic button.

Quentin is obsessed with a childhood book series about the world of Fillory and an english family by the name of the Chatwins who went there through a magic closet and went on adventures and became the kings and queens of the land of Fillory. Sound Familiar. It should because the story of Fillory is basically Narnia. Sure names of characters, places, events etc… have changed but the premise is the same.

Quentin goes with his friends to Fillory where, you guessed it, he has adventures and learns he is to be king along with his friends as kings and Queens of Fillory. Of course Fillory is not as nice as the books have portrayed it and a lot more dangerous and much darker and mysterious than he expected. It turns out his dream of visiting Fillory for real turned into a nightmare when it came true.

The first half of this book was honesty boring. Over the course of 200 pages Quentin and friends manage to go through 5 years of schooling in magic before heading off on their first adventure. This first half of the book went through a lot of time with not a lot happening. School, then depressing life trying to drown himself in his misery. Then finally after the first 200 pages it finally gets on to some actual story. You could probably take the first half of this book, throw it out and not miss anything of any importance.

This is not the only thing that is wrong with this book however. As part of their schooling they spent some time in Antarctica. One aspect of the description of their local annoys me and I know it’s just a minor thing, however the idea of sunset and sunrise should not have been in this part of the story. You see when you are below the antarctic circle there is no daily sunrise or daily sunset, you have polar day and polar night. The very concept is not accurate. You see I have this problem because while the story is fictional when a stories location is based on real world location the laws of nature do not simply cease to exist because the characters are magicians. Now if there was some magical explanation written into the story as to why this was this way, that would have resolved this issue. But since that was not the case this is kind of problem for me because it demonstrated a writing that is logically false.

The magic used in this book by the magicians it seems for the most part was not much more than parlor tricks and rather weak magic compared to other fantasy novels. There did not seem to be much in the way of magical system, knowledge or use in the books just basic elementary descriptions. It really failed to created any kind of idea or image in my mind of what this school was like or just how strong or powerful the magic was. With Harry Potter for example you spent so much time at Hogwarts as the setting for the story that you really were able to get a sense of the magical world you are surrounded with within the story. Not so much with the Magicians and their magic school of Brakebills.

It was not all bad of course, the second half of the book did much better in developing and creating a story. The descriptions of their travel to and from Fillory and their adventure within that world was overall well done.

Part of what I found fun about that latter half of the book was learning about who the mysterious beast was and who the mysterious paramedic was at the beginning of the book. I know I’m a sucker for disturbing story elements so I have to admit I really did like the cannibalism aspect with the beast in this story.

It was not so bad that I would not read the other books but It was not so good that I would actively recommend it for anyone to read either. I just find that it draws way too much on the ideas from Harry Potter and Narnia and as a result lacks in originality and content.

As for a rating on this 5/10 only because the first half was not good but the second half was and it lacks in originality and world building and development.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s