Author: Lev Grossman
Publisher: Viking

Click Here To Purchase The Magicians: A Novel

How easy it would be to label this book a Harry Potter for adults. Here are all the familiar ingredients — a gifted but unrecognized boy genius with a rather distant family, a school of magic hidden in plain sight that takes him in, a colourful cast of students and teachers among whom our hero discovers himself and, of course, a fearsome evil that lurks in the wings waiting to strike. There is even a school sport involving magic, a sort of supernatural checkers equivalent to Hogwarts’ quidditch. Yet this book is a lot more— a coming of age tale that examines the pleasures and perils of great powers in the hands of the young , loss of innocence, the strength and fragility of love , and the struggle to come to terms with the disappointment of the real world .

Our hero, Quentin Coldwater, is your average teenager in present day Brooklyn, though brilliant and already possessed of strange powers that no one else seems to notice. He finds solace in a series of books from his childhood, about the magical land of Fillory and the adventures of a band of intrepid children there. Then, a routine interview to an Ivy League school leaves him with a dead body and a mysterious exchange with a woman who proceeds to visit him sporadically through the book, and sets him on the path to Brakebills, a college of magic on the banks of the Hudson that is invisible and out of bounds to all but the chosen.

Rather predictably, Quentin emerges as a mage with promise — he shines in his studies, attracting the attention of his teachers, his seniors and a troubled but gifted young student that he falls in love with. After the adrenaline rush of college, however, life in the real world is a let down. With no real use for their powers, Quentin and his friends are bored and directionless, rapidly descending into a life of drugs and alcohol fuelled by a generous trust fund from the school. Then, one of them discovers that Fillory exists for real, and the friends decide to visit. What begins as a rather casual picnic quickly descends into a horrific confrontation with the Beast, and a battle for their lives against teeming armies of creatures far removed from anything they have imagined, or are prepared for. Barely escaping with his life, Quentin is forced to deal with loss, heartbreak and the realization that he has been nothing more than a pawn in a far greater game, begun long before his initiation into magic.

The book crackles with energy — the writing is fast paced, the characters are intriguing. Grossman has a great style of writing, sparse yet insightful, and often very funny . For all their magical powers, Quentin and his friends are still just hormonally charged kids, and Grossman realistically reveals the weaknesses and compulsions that lurk just beneath their powers . This book will delight fantasy literature enthusiasts like myself, as it doffs its hat at all the greats — Fillory and its child explorers seem straight out of C S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, a wish fulfilling creature reminiscent of the Questing Beast from the stories of T H White, roams Fillory. A drunk student babbles about that Hogwarts highlight, quidditch, and even Edward Lear finds a reference. The narrative does sag in the final chapters, as Quentin makes a slow recovery and struggles to restore order in his life, before redeeming itself with an exuberant ending straight out of the Matrix movies.

A must read for its gripping premise, the fierce energy of the first half, and its frank examination of these flawed yet memorable characters.

Click Here To Purchase The Magicians: A Novel