The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

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Paperback, 516 pages

First Published August 11, 2009 by Viking

IBSN: 9780452295766

Quinten Coldwater is seventeen, brilliant, and dissatisfied. He is heading to a college interview on a blistery cold day when a strange encounter leads him instead to the sunny grounds of the exclusive Brakebills, a college that teaches magic. Amazingly, after extensive testing, he is admitted.

Throughout his years at college he finds friendship and first love, tastes true terror for the first time, discovers the complicated wizardry game of welters, drinks a lot of alcohol, gets in a punch up, partakes in an amazing journey and, of course, learns a lot of magic.

But after college is over, Quinten’s restlessness rises up again. So it’s just as well that he and his friends make a discovery too awesome to be true – something that he has never dared to hope for before. The odyssey that follows is both horrible and fantastic.

From Brooklyn to Brakebills, to Antarctica and back again, from the real world to the wonderful other, and spanning many years, the Magicians is truly epic.

For whatever reason, I loved this book. It has stark symmetries with Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, but instead of seeming like a blatant rip off it is more like a respectful nod. The fictional Fillory and Further series that exists in this world is very similar to Narnia, especially with all the siblings in wartime and the world between the worlds, but the events that happen within the Fillory books are original and exciting. I really wish that those books existed so that I could read them!

Sometimes the characters in this could be very unlikable. I wanted to give Quinten a good shoulder shake and slap for his behaviour at one point. And I’m not sure if I ever liked Janet – but that could be hindsight talking. I think that the unlikeable thing works as a part of the story – imagine how you would be if you could do magic. A god complex might emerge, or a severe detachment from ‘lesser’ non-magic using humans and their way of life. The boredom of having everything.

The last chunk of this book is particularly excellent. There is lots of action and little twists and moments that make you go, ‘oh!’ But I won’t divulge any more than that, just know that it’s very cool.

What’s also great is that all those little loose ends that show up throughout the book get tied up.

And, this is not a series- oh, wait, scratch that. A little research has proven that there is in fact a second book. I’m not sure how I feel about that, as I was just about to praise the Magicians on it’s standaloneness. Nevertheless, this is the kind of story that some other author may have needlessly dragged across a four part series (several young adult series come to mind).

I’ll think of this book from time to time, and remember parts of it vividly and fondly, as if I’d only just read it. I mean that in a good way.

Expect to see a review of book two sometime in the future . . .

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