Thursday, December 06, 2012

My Thoughts on “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman

TheMagicians (2009) and its sequel The Magician King (2011) by Lev Grossman are novels of the Urban Fantasy genre.  (Viking Press)

The first of the two books, “The Magicians” follows the adventures of Quentin Coldwater, a young man living in Brooklyn, NY who is rather disillusioned and unsatisfied with life in general.  Quentin has completed high school and is about to enter college, but with no real idea of where he will fit into either the academic or real world.  He is in love with his childhood friend Julia Wicker who considers Quentin only a friend. He sees himself as a third wheel as he accompanies Julia and his best friend, whom Julia is dating, as they head out to apply to University.  

As the day progresses, Quentin finds himself in Brakebills Academy, a school located somewhere in Upstate New York within a parallel universe where he is tested and accepted on his magical abilities. During his testing, he sees Julia in a classroom taking a test as well, but as he does not see her again at Brakebills, he believes he is mistaken.

While attending Brakebills, Quentin meets and makes a few friends that are of his own like and falls in love with Alice Quinn, a magician with natural talents who takes her magical training and study seriously. Quentin finds his studies more difficult than he expected, sometimes grueling, though there are times when excitement does ensue.

Upon graduation, Quentin and his friends return to the real world and live together in an apartment in NYC. Once again, Quentin finds he is bored with life finding only monotony. Once again disillusioned, he wishes for adventure. He spends much of his life partying, while Alice continues to study magic beyond the walls of Brakebills. Quentin simply cannot find meaning in his life until one of his friends confirms something that Quentin always suspected was true.

Throughout the book, Quentin is obsessed with a series of children’s books titled “Filory and Further” written by a fictional author Christopher Plover.  The series follows the five Chatwin children as they discover and venture into the magical world of Filory.  (The description of the Filory books very much resembles the “Narnia” series written by the very real author C. S. Lewis).  Quentin, fed by rumors, always secretly held the belief that the Chatwin children and the land of Filory were real and through a friend finds that he is correct in his thinking.  It is with this discovery that the lives of Quentin and his friends take on new meaning as they set off to explore the world of Filory.

Quentin and his friends soon discover that something has gone terribly wrong in Filory, and it is not the world of their expectations. They set off on an adventure to set things right, but find many harmful and confusing barriers along the way. Unfortunate tragedy strikes the group as they battle the evil that has disrupted the magical world.  At the conclusion of the adventure, Quentin decides he is better off in the real world and leaves his friends Filory and forsakes magic altogether. Until one night…

For the week it took me to read these two books, I traveled in worlds that I wish existed.  I found myself laughing aloud and even voicing warnings to the characters such as, “No, don’t do that.” If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy and Adventure genre books, I highly recommend this book and its sequel. You will not be disappointed.

Quentin’s story continues in the sequel “The Magician King” by Lev Grossman.  My thoughts on the sequel are forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading… ~Yvonne~

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