The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. He’s a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he’s still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless.

Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly 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. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he thought it would.

Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real.

Early buzz for the novel has been strong, since it’s UK release in March, gathering favourable quotes from authors like George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire:

These days any novel about young sorcerers at wizard school inevitably invites comparison to Harry Potter. Lev Grossman meets the challenge head on… and very successfully. The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. Solidly rooted in the traditions of both fantasy and mainstream literary fiction, the novel tips its hat to Oz and Narnia as well to Harry, but don’t mistake this for a children’s book. Grossman’s sensibilities are thoroughly adult, his narrative dark and dangerous and full of twists. Hogwart’s was never like this.

and Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao:

Stirring, complex, adventurous – from the life of Quentin Coldwater, his slacker Park Slope Harry Potter, Lev Grossman delivers superb coming of age fantasy.

Certainly enough to get me to give it a good, close look the next time I’m at the bookstore. You can find Grossman’s website HERE.

  • The Mad Hatter August 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    The Magicians is definitely one of those books that make the reader have a strong reaction. Whether that is a good or bad reaction will depend upon how one takes the story. Some may feel it is a Harry Potter/Narnia ripoff, but if anything Grossman was trying to subvert them a bit and bring realism to these types of stories. I recently did an interview with Grossman and I found him to be a very nice and humble guy.

  • CupofDice August 14, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I am definitely looking forward to this. Not exactly that new though, with the Name of the Wind and it’s University.

  • aidan August 14, 2009 at 10:11 am

    The Mad Hatter – That divisive nature makes me even more curious to read the book. Is it a stand alone novel?

    CupofDice – The originality, as pointed out by The Mad Hatter, seems to be the biggest knock against the novel. Still, I’m of the mind that originality is a little overrated, and it’s more important just to tell a good story.

  • The Mad Hatter August 14, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    @Aidan – Grossman has tentative plans to do more with the characters and worlds, but The Magicians itself is fairly standalone. You get closure on nearly everything.

  • aidan August 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Ahh, just what I wanted to hear. Thanks!

  • Rob B August 15, 2009 at 6:15 am

    I’m about halfway through now and like it a lot.

  • Cara Powers September 19, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Actually, there are a lot of things that have no closure. The book ends with a deus et machina leading directly into a sequel and there’s a scene in the book that serves no other purpose than to serve as a springboard for another book.

  • Monkey Man October 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    It should be considered a new type of magic school due to its more real world context or related more to our world instead of as with the name of the wind that takes place in a different fantasy world that isn’t our world.