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Publisher's Summary

In a secret world of forbidden knowledge, power comes at a terrible price....
Quentin Coldwater's life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton, he finds his interviewer dead - but a strange envelope bearing Quentin's name leads him down a path very different from any he'd ever imagined.
The envelope, and the mysterious manuscript it contains, leads to a secret world of obsession and privilege, a world of freedom and power; and, for a while, it's a world that seems to answer all Quentin's desires. But the idyll cannot last - and when it's finally shattered, Quentin is drawn into something darker and far more dangerous than anything he could ever have expected....
©2016 Lev Grossman (P)2016 Penguin Books Limited
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Simon on 11-15-16

Didn't cast a spell on me

I get that Grossman is trying to create a three-dimensional protagonist with weaknesses and problems. In doing so the character is probably supposed to be easier to identify with. But I never identified with Quentin, and I lost my interest in him throughout the book. I want to read something that inspires me, but reading about Quentin's self-pity and his poor view on life and people in general is just depressing.

Along with this I must say the plot is not intriguing enough and it seems like the novel is missing some editing. Loose plot ends are thrown out now and again without being picked up which made me think the author forgot about them. And for an "adult fantasy" it just doesn't seem to be intelligent enough. You never understand what is the agenda of influential off-screen characters (Fogg, Mayakovsky), which makes me think there are none. The only way this fantasy novel is adult is in the frequent occurrence of drugs, sex and alcohol, I was hoping there would a more sophisticated side to the story than that but I did't find it.

Grossman's language and imagination is good enough for a good fantasy novel, but "The Magician's" misses out on too many other things.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By M. Makelainen on 05-02-18

Awful writing - TV series is superior

I picked this up because I’ve enjoyed SyFy’s The Magicians tv-series because books are always superior right? Wrong. Quentin is extremely unlikable as a main character. The author can’t stop describing breasts of every woman he sees and Quentin can’t stop listing after them. Pacing is all sorts of weird with lots of telling and almost no showing. Five years in Breakbills takes about half of the book where nothing happens except some 3rd rate attempt of re-creating quidditch and completely non impactful appearance of “the Beast”. Fillory is ruined by Quentin’s moping and entitled whining and only thing that got me to the end was the fantastic narrator.

Hard pass for the rest of the series and big recommend to the tv series.

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Customer Reviews

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4 out of 5 stars
By Tuke on 03-05-16

Narnia and Harry Potter combination for adults

Where does The Magicians, Book 1 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This story was certainly entertaining. I would suggest that if you grew up with Harry Potter and found that you were never invited to Hogwarts, then your sense of disillusion with the world can be sorted out with this original, if not ground-breaking tale. I liked the concept and the characters were quite well formed, although as the story progressed it got a little bit too referential - Narnia "Magician's Nephew". However, I do like books that refer back to the earlier genre works, and Grossman has certainly wrought something new from children's fantasy fiction. When the next one comes out on audio (only available currently in the US audible site) I shall probably download it and continue listening, but I wasn't left with a desperation to continue to the story. The protagonist, Quentin, was that rather in vogue mixture of brilliance tinged with flaws and issues. I have to say though, that I was increasingly unsympathetic towards him, which could arguably be Grossman's plan with the whole 'disillusionment' thing. Mark Bramhall was a brilliant reader, well paced with good characterisation.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By oliver barrow on 02-24-17

loved this book

So much better than the tv show, it's got some brilliantly dark yet wonderful moments and the variation of characters and and adventures is wildly entertaining

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Jennifer R Kenny on 05-04-17

great idea, poor execution

What did you like best about The Magicians, Book 1? What did you like least?

the idea of a realistic magical world as very intriguing, however very quickly I came to realise that realistic seems to translate into depressing. Quintin is a terrible character to follow, and his mood swings can throw you easily out of a scene. There were plots that we were following and then weirdly neglected for no good reason.

The ending saved the story. There was enough happening that was satisfying that make me finish it but I would not be recommending it to people.

What was most disappointing about Lev Grossman’s story?

plots that went nowhere was the most frustrating. Interesting ideas were cut short with basic explanations that were never questioned. The story might be a warning for the rich kids of the world that have no direction in their lives beyond spending daddy's money but that isn't enough to save it from its many weaknesses.

What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?

The reading was good, with enough differences between character voices to follow along easily. An easy and calming voice.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

This book is a tv show, and my friend has watched the first season. We compared notes. If the show has brought you here, do not bother with the book. They are drastically different.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By DoctorFirefly89 on 08-26-17

Save your time and watch the tv series instead

I read this book because I watched the tv adaptation and really liked it. I thought, of course the book must be better. I was wrong. The problem is that the characters are not developed enough. They don't really grow, and there's no nuance. I think the author was going for gritty, but their drunkenness and apathy just put me off. They are one-dimensional. The thing that really got me was that the author can't seem to decide whether the readers should hate Janet or not. She's nice, then she's the worst of the worst, then she's good again. I also didn't connect with the protagonist. He came across as whiny and defeatist.
I will not be reading the sequels.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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