Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I came across this book by chance at a bookstore several weeks ago, only due to the fact its third and final sequel had recently been released. After the first few chapters, I was hooked. Sure enough, I did not pick up another book until I had completed the trilogy in its entirety! For those of you that know me, you know that I have an addictive personality. However, my obsessive attachment to this series is as much Grossman’s responsibility as it is mine. Though coherent, Grossman presented this story in a way that satiates the modern day’s preference for honest and crude humor, all the while providing thoughtful anecdotes, sporadic characterization, and a plot that colors outside the lines of your typical fantasy epic.

 

The Magicians hit the shelves in 2009 and since then it has steadily accumulated a following that holds the main character, Quentin Coldwater, with as much reverence as his often compared counterpart—Harry Potter. From an outsider’s perspective it is easy to see why the two series and characters have been juxtaposed; they both embody the similar set-up of “young man with a catchy name gets shipped off to prestigious magic school and has magical adventures in magical lands.” Despite the glaring foundational similarities, I still find it an injustice to compare the two. The adventures of Harry Potter are for the more innocent of audiences that still need gentle, censored adventures to wrap their minds around. The adventures of Quentin Coldwater are for young mature adults who, despite their age, still long to be whisked away on a magical, gruesome, otherworldly adventure.

 

George Martin, author of the famed Game of Thrones series, presented my favorite review for the book:

The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea…Grossman’s sensibilities are thoroughly adult, his narrative dark and dangerous and full of twists. Hogwarts was never like this.”

 

If you’re interested in the book I encourage you to check out Lev Grossman’s site: http://levgrossman.com/magicians-trilogy/the-magicians-a-novel/

-Alexander Santos

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