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Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman


The Magicians

Author: Lev Grossman

Publisher: Penguin Books

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Release Date: May 25th 2010

Page Count: 402

Format: Paperback/Audiobook

ISBN: 9780452296299

Author Website | Book Depository | Amazon |

Maria's Rating -4-01

Guess what? I actually really enjoyed this book. I went into The Magicians knowing that it had mixed reviews. I knew that a lot of people had issues with it, so naturally, I expected that I wasn’t going to end up liking it very much. Turns out I was wrong. I found this book to be entertaining and pretty damn humorous.

The Magician’s tells the story of a smart young high school senior named Quentin Coldwater who is trying to get into University. During a scheduled interview, a series of peculiar events take place which lead him to Brakebills, a school for the magically gifted. Quentin has dreamed of something like this to be real after becoming obsessed with his childhood favourite books, the Fillory series.

I had first heard of the Magicians series about two years ago. I volunteered at a book fair and the third and final book in the trilogy had just been released. The cover itself definitely caught my eye and I was instantly intrigued, but then I forgot about it. I didn’t end up picking it up at the book fair and it kind of fell off of my radar. That is until I happened to find the first novel at a thrift store. I quickly picked it up off of the shelf…only for it to sit on my own personal shelf for almost a year. For whatever reason, I just never picked it up. Fast forward a little and it was announced that The Magicians was going to be picked up as a television series on SyFy. This time I knew I needed to read it. I had a free credit with Audible so I figured, if I wasn’t going to actually physically pick up the book, I could at least listen to it while I got ready for work in the mornings. And that was what finally did the trick.

Maybe the audiobook version of The Magicians played a factor in my liking towards it. Maybe I just really enjoyed the story, who knows…but it definitely wasn’t as crap as everyone made it seem. I can see why some may have had issues with it. I understand that, yes, it has similarities to popular children’s novels like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, but in no way does The Magicians try to be those stories. If anything, it is more of a satirical, or almost comical take on these popular fantasy novels. For one, there is a ridiculous amount of adult humour that you would never find within our beloved children’s tales. I think that Lev Grossman was going for a more adult and playful take on the stories that we loved so much growing up. In no way do I think that he was trying to mimic them at all.

I really enjoyed our primary character, Quentin. However, his personality started changing as the story went on. I guess he is supposed to be growing up and I know that the first novel alone takes place over several years, but he started to become unlikable as The Magicians continued. Eliot is probably one of my favourite characters from this novel, but once again…as the story progressed, he started changing and I began not to like him as much. I’m really curious to learn more about Julia and what the hell went on with her behind the scenes. We forget about her for a good chunk of the story until we are finally reminded that she exists towards the end of the novel. I would just like to know what went on with her during that time. I also would love to learn more about Alice and her family’s past. Especially in regards to her brother. I feel like this storyline was introduced for a reason and we just haven’t got to the gritty details yet.

I personally really enjoyed the first half of this novel and the scenes that took place at Brakebills. Then The Magicians started getting a little weirder when it started getting into the Fantasy and Adventure aspects of the story. I’m not sure I was a huge fan of these moments, but I’m hoping they open up more storylines for the remainder of the series.

I mainly began reading this trilogy because I am really interested in watching the television series. I was actually so eager that I decided to watch the first two episodes after reading this first novel. Turns out that was a huge mistake as the series is completely different. I thought maybe they just decided to take it down a different path, but I was later told that the series has combined storylines from all three novels in the trilogy. Oops. I may have spoiled myself a little, but it does have me intrigued to keep going with both the trilogy and the television series. In fact, I have already started listening to the second audiobook!

As you can plainly see, sometimes it is a great idea to go into a new book or a new series with low expectations…or no expectations at all. It is also clear that just because a whole bunch of people didn’t enjoy something, doesn’t mean that you won’t. Keep an open mind when going into a new novel and remember to always have your own unique opinions!

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9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

  1. I’m glad I read this, because I was about to power-read through the first one so that my husband (who just finished the triology) could start the show. Now I know that even if I finish the first one, I won’t be caught up enough for the show so I told him to just watch it on his own and I’ll get to the book eventually (:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! I wish I had known sooner. They also did change a lot of what happened within the first book alone, but it was still super intriguing, so I would really like to continue with both the books and the television series!


  2. Great review – I’ve been debating whether to pick this book up for a while and now I’ve decided to give it a go so thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently saw the series so I could get a taste of what it really is, but I didn’t like the actors and kinda made me believe that I’d dislike the book. dunno if im right. Have you seen the series?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got up to about episode 6 and stopped. Not because I didn’t like it, but it was combining storylines from all three novels which had me a little confused. I do want to continue watching it eventually though!

      Liked by 1 person

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