the magicians review lev grossman

The Magicians Review: Maybe Two Books in One? Still, I Enjoyed It

Many of you have heard of The Magicians by Lev Grossman now that it has been made into a television show. My husband read the entire trilogy, loved it, and has been harassing me to pick it up, so I finally did! While I really enjoyed the first half, I got a bit confused by the second half (I blame the audiobook, which I’ll explain further on), but overall, I quite enjoyed this edgy novel about magicians.

The Magicians Review: Maybe Two Books in One? Still, I Enjoyed ItThe Magicians by Lev Grossman
Series: The Magicians #1
Published by Viking on August 11th 2009
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 402
Narrator: Mark Bramhall
Length: 17 hrs and 24 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined.


fumbling magicians, crude college life, and an unexpected fantasy adventure

What went right:

1. The book has got a lot of hilarious stuff (dialogue, events, interactions, etc) woven throughout. I mean, you’re reading about young adults going to a magic school, so their dynamic is quite similar to that of the average young adult. And it’s pretty funny.

2. In the same vein, I love how raunchy and edgy the characters are. It has been said that this book is like Harry Potter for adults, and I think there is some truth in that. You’re reading a fantasy novel, but it’s chock full of adult themes. 

3. The magical world has almost got a tongue-in-check fantasy aspect to it, as if Grossman knew it was a bit ridiculous when he created it. I mean, all the things that happen after Brakebills college are kind of absurd, but I think that it was all supposed to be.

4. It felt very real. If Harry Potter were to happen in real life, I feel as though this is exactly how it would go down. There’d be sex, drugs, alcohol, and a whole lot of other weird stuff.

What went wrong: 

1. My main complaint about this book is that it felt like it should have been two books. The first half is all about Brakebills College, and the second half is about something entirely different (I won’t divulge, because spoilers, but if you read the synopsis above, you can even appreciate that there are two separate storylines). Since I was listening to the audiobook, for a good 2/3 of the second half I kept thing, “When is this going to end? Why is it still going on?” I don’t know if it’s because I listened to the audiobook that I struggled with this, because I couldn’t see how much of the book I had left, or if it would have happened if I had read the physical book as well? Either way, that was a distracting issue for me.

the magicians trilogy lev grossman



Overall I quite enjoyed the book! I’d recommend the book to anyone who likes the sound of it based on the synopsis- the book is pretty true to its description.


Have you read The Magicians trilogy? Or did you watch the TV show? What are your thoughts of TV shows based on books?

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7 comments

  1. I haven’t read the other books yet, but I read The Magicians as a senior in high school and absolutely loved it! I loved how it really is like magic for adults- complete with the rigorous way you have to study it. Just like college, lol.

    1. Yes, haha! I am hoping to listen to the next audiobook soon, esp since the first ends on such a cliffhanger!

  2. I listened to the audiobook version of this as well! I listened to it a little while ago now so I can’t really recall what my experience was like while listening, but I do remember there being two distinct storylines within the first novel! Believe me, it gets weirder and weirder from here haha! 😛

  3. My library has this series and I plan to read it, just haven’t gotten to it yet. I have heard the HP for adults thing and edginess, I think. It sounds really good though, especially if it was realistic but the absurd kinda stuff was written in a way that you could tell it was meant to be that. I can understand what you’re saying about separate storylines and it seeming like it should’ve been two books, I’ve come across books like that before. I think now that I’ll know that going into it though, maybe it won’t bother me. Great review!
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    1. Yes, for sure! it probably helps if you read the physical book, too, because then you’ll SEE how much book you have left and it won’t just “feel” like the story should be ending. I think that’s what took me by surprise (: Hope you like it if/when you ever get around to it!