Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Posted by Caitie F on June 26, 2011

Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Hardcover:  402 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult
Year Published: 2009
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads):

Quentin Coldwater is brillant but miserable. He’s a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he’s still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless.

Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he though it would.


This book took me a LONG time to read. According to, I was reading it for a month! Well, it wasn’t really a month because I took a break to read some library books, but it was a good 2 weeks of reading, which for me, is a lot. It took a while, though, because I loved it so much. It is such a dense book, but dense in a good way. There is creativity throughout and it just had to all sink in. Reading it was truly exploring a new world. I haven’t felt like that about a book since Harry Potter.

Which makes sense. When describing it, I have said it is like Harry Potter for adults. And it truly is for adults. There is sex (but not graphic), drinking, drugs, and darkness. Lots of dark and twisty (and a little timey-whimey). But it is brilliant. The writing is brilliant, the magical world within our world is brilliant. The storytelling is brilliant. Wow, I just loved this book!

I thought it was great how all of the little stories that were told throughout tied to the bigger picture. A story told on page 150 came back in the 300s in a big way, which always impresses me with a story. There is also a lot of really well-written foreshadowing, some of which I caught and some that I didn’t until the end of the book. When I finished yesterday there was a lot of “Oh! That connects with…” which is making thinking about the book so much fun!

For all of the darkness, there is also quite a bit of humor – including Harry Potter humor, which was always my favorite.

Apparently this book is very polarizing, either people loved it or hated it. I don’t understand hating it, but everyone has different tastes!

Not, the book isn’t perfect, though I still gave it five stars since it was just so much fun to read! There isn’t much of a plot until the last 150-200 pages. It is character and world building before that. Usually that would bother me, but Grossman has created such a wonderful world and characters that I didn’t mind at all!

I am going to say it though: I liked Quentin. I have seen people comparing him to Holden Caulfield, but I don’t agree with that assessment at all. Holden was a whiney little brat. I understood where Quentin was coming from. He was depressed, but I saw where it came from. HE let people in his life and made his own family at Brakebills and beyond, since his family life was so screwed up. Yes, he makes mistakes along the way, and some of those mistakes make him a jerk, but I think it makes his character more interesting and relatable.

If you are interested in seeing what would happen if regular people could be Magicians, and think this sounds like it is fun to read (which it really is!) check out this book!

I got a signed copy of The Magician King  at BEA and can’t wait to read it (though I may need to let Jason read it first, so he needs to finish Game of Thrones).  Lev Grossman was a really nice guy and I need to check out all of his other books. The next book comes out in September.


3 Responses to “The Magicians by Lev Grossman”

  1. Jason said

    I’m so glad you loved it as much as I did. I was totally entranced by it — now you see why when we went to the “zoo” with your mom I couldn’t stop reading it in the car!

    Everything you said is 100% right. The thing that most especially stood out to me about this book was the sheer creativity. It’s a cliche, but EVERY page had something wonderous on it that kept making you ask “how is he going to top that!?”

    I am definitely looking forward to the sequel, but I AM only half way through the Game of Thrones…

  2. […] Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 6. 6. 7. Bossypants by Tina Fey 7. The Magicians by Lev Grossman 8. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries Series) 8. Extras by Scott Westerfeld 9. Boys […]

  3. […] in 80 Days by Jules Verne 6. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 7. Bossypants by Tina Fey 7. The Magicians by Lev Grossman 8. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries Series) 8. Extras by Scott Westerfeld […]

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