August 2, 2016

The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Magicians Series #1
Science Fiction
2009 Penguin Audio
Read by Mark Bramhall
Finished on March 1, 2016
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. … Grossman’s sensibilities are thoroughly adult, his narrative dark and dangerous and full of twists. Hogwarts was never like this.” —George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones

Publisher's Blurb:

Quentin Coldwater is a high school senior, but he’s still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read when he was little, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, everything in his real life just seems gray and colorless. That changes when Quentin finds himself admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery.

But magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure and meaning he thought it would—until he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. The Magicians is a grand, glittering fantasy that reinterprets the grand tradition of C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling in a brilliant novel for adults.

I can't remember the last time I vacillated so much while reading a book! One minute I was falling in love with the story and the next I was ready to throw the book across the room. Such a roller coaster! And while some may say it's a nod to Harry Potter and Narnia, I thought it was more of a ripoff, especially of J.K. Rowlings' series.

A school for magicians. Check.

Separate living quarters based on your magical abilities. Check.

"Send me an owl." Check.

A game called Welters, which sounds vaguely familiar. "Hang on," he said. "Gotta get my quidditch costume. I mean uniform. I mean welters." Check.

I discovered the following while reading other reviews and had to laugh because it's spot on:
I felt like I was doing peyote buttons with J.K. Rowling. (Mickey Rapkin, GQ)

The book pulled me in right away, but then my interest began to wane. Things picked up again when the group went to Brakesbills South in Antarctica, and the ending was great, but over all the pacing is uneven and the characters are flat and tiresome. I have no desire to read the next two books in this series and after watching about 20 minutes of the first episode of the series on DVD, my husband and I both agreed to call it quits. 

Final Thoughts:

While entertaining and somewhat imaginative, this mash-up of Harry Potter, The Night Circus and Ready Player One left me wishing for something more.


  1. I read this with my old book club a couple of years ago and didn't really care for it. The younger members seemed to like it more than the more mature members.

    1. Kathy, I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more had I not read any of the Harry Potter books. I really do think that's why I was so annoyed with this book.

  2. Replies
    1. Nope, I wouldn't think so. :)

  3. Being that I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books I might like this although I have seen the Potter movies. Hmm, I do have this one on my shelves but we'll see.

    1. You might enjoy it, Iliana!

  4. We watched the first episode of the show and I was like, so... Basically this is Harry Potter and Narnia and we made some other connections at the time. I haven't watched more of the show because I am horrid at watching TV, but I do have this on audio... I mean, Harry Potter borrows from other fantasy novels, too, but still is original. From what I have noticed about this trilogy it is kind of like fan fiction.

    1. Kelly, my husband was happy it wasn't a hit with me. He really doesn't like getting sucked into tv/Netflix series. He'd rather watch a 2-3 hour movie and then move on. Watching episode after episode of the same characters isn't his thing. I have convinced him otherwise on a few occasions, though. :)

  5. I bought this when it was on sale for the book, but I still haven't read it. Reading Martins' review blurb at the top makes me want to stop everything and grab it; your review sets my feet on the reality path and let's me known would feel as you do: vaguely disappointed if not fully.

    1. Meredith, maybe you should give it a try. We haven't always agreed on the books we've read and this might appeal to you more than it did me.


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