The Magicians Book Review

Despite my fears, The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman actually arrived in time for me to still read at least the first book and let it count for my August TBR. So, let’s talk about the first part of the trilogy!

magiciansLike everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined.

(source: Goodreads)

Disclaimer: I want to say up front that this book isn’t extremely explicit, but it does include sex, drugs, violance and profanities.

I have a hard time expressing how I feel about this book. It was a bold move by Grossman to put 5 years worth of story in only 400 pages and I am not sure it paid of entirely. The book is split into 4 parts and without really spoiling anything I can tell you they are as followed:

  • Part I: It’s basically Quentin’s discovery of magic and his entire (!!!) 4 years at Brakebills, the magical university he attends. That part takes about half the book only.
  • Part II: Is the brief period after graduation and not knowing what to do really.
  • Part III: It’s the quest Quentin and his friends embark on.
  • Part IV: The time after the quest and the set-up for the next book in the trilogy.

Calling the Magicians a mix between Harry Potter and Narnia is somewhat accurate, although it is a lot more on the Narnia-side. Quentin has this obsession with Fillory, a magical land from his favourite childhood-book-series. A lot of what happens in Fillory happened in Narnia as well if I remember correctly and there are just a lot of similarities that can be drawn.

I think my major issues with the novel were the pace and the characters.  I would have liked to see more of the university rather than breezing through the semesters and just hearing about Quentin studying. There were really only two or three interesting scenes in that part of his life and it dragged a bit to read about it. Also, it didn’t actually make Brakebills that appealing. I mean after reading all that, I have no desire to go there and actually think I would fail the entry exams big time.
Then the characters. The only ones I kind of liked were Alice and Eliot (when he wasn’t drunk). But everyone was just so miserable ALL THE TIME. It didn’t make them very likable and it was just generally a downer … for me to truly embrace a series, I need to actually like the people in the book.

However, I did love that there was a map in the book (always a plus!) and in the end there were a couple of things that surprised me and I enjoyed it getting more fast-paced in the later parts. I am going to read the other books as well, but I doubt they’ll ever become one of my favourite series.


Fazit: 3.4/5 stars. I wasn’t overwhelmed but I can see why it would appeal to some people.

P.S. Stay tuned for my first thoughts about the Magicians TV show that will be airing on Syfy 2016!!

16 thoughts on “The Magicians Book Review

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