by Lev Grossman SF & FANTASY 820 ROG
Have you always wished magic was real? Then this is a book for you.
Quentin has obsessed over a series of fantasy books ever since he was a child, and still secretly wishes the magical world of Fillory depicted in them was real, even though he’s well beyond the socially acceptable reading age for these books. He’s also extremely smart but a bit of a misfit, and wishes there was more to life than school and exams and lusting over his best friend’s girlfriend. Then it turns our magic is real, not that this makes his life any easier…
Quentin finds himself invited to study at the only magic school in America. It’s a demanding curriculum, and Quentin finds he’s no longer the smartest kid in the class, but the thrill of learning magic never really dissipates, even though he still finds himself yearning for something more in life.
I really liked the system of magic that The Magicians depicts –it’s not too easy and the students really have to make an effort to learn new skills. Even when the burgeoning magicians get something right, they’re still not sure of themselves, and if they get something wrong, it can have some serious consequences. Then there’s “the beast”, an unknown but powerful magician who manages to slip through the defences of the magic school to kill a student. And did I mention that there’s the possibility that Fillory, the magical world of Quentin’s obsession might actually be real? You might find yourself getting obsessed with Fillory as much as Quentin, in which case there’s even a hilarious real life website about the Fillory books.
I think this book appealed to me because it depicts a world of magic that doesn’t always live up to expectations – The Magicians explores what happens when magic isn’t always amazing and fantastic or doing what you think it should but is instead disappointing or useless or a nuisance. The students do battle a few foes and solve a few magical mysteries along the way, but they also misbehave, get drunk, sleep around, cast banned spells and do all the stupid things you’re supposed to do when you’re a magic student. And that’s what this book is about ultimately – that no matter what happens in your life, magic can’t fix everything. But it’s fun going along with the magicians as they struggle to figure this out.