The Magician or The Whiner?

I picked up the book on amazon because of the Syfy TV show based on the same franchise that I binge watched last summer. The magicians is a book by Lev Grossman marketed as the adult version of Harry Potter and Narnia.

I beg to differ.

Unlike the whimsical descriptions and daring adventures in the other fantasy books, the magicians feature a couple of teenagers motivated only by greed, sex, alcohol, and sheer boredom.

Despite being a certified math genius who was welcomed into one of the most prestigious magic schools in the world, Quentin Coldwater was always making excuses and looking out for the next best thing. Upon enrollment, he used his intelligence and hard work to skip a grade along with fellow geniuses Alice and Penny. But, he soon descended into the steps of his upperclassmen housemates and literarily adopted the ways of an alcoholic. With his friends, he would sit around, drink overpriced wines, and contemplate the futility of life. After graduation, he had the good will to stumble into a magical land where all the adventure began. Quentin discovered that the magical land of his childhood fantasy was much much darker and more dangerous than he could ever imagine.


For me, the book wasn’t that enjoyable because of the rambling plot line that dragged on and on. If I were to draw a plot mountain like we did in middle school English class, it would only contain the rising action. The limited action was empty, with absolutely nothing at stake. The only parts remotely interesting in this book are the beginning of part 1, part 3, and part 4. Other than those portions, we can basically replace the rest with “Quentin gets drunk with his friends and complains about his life.”

On a change of note, What I liked about this book is the special way it went about describing magic. Unlike other generic wizard magic tale, The Magician doesn’t split magic into either good or bad. Instead, magic is something a magician feels, like an ancient art form or energy to be tapped into. Also, it differs from other books in that there wasn’t an exact villain to defeat. In part, this lack of villainy made the plot semi boring but Grossman was able to tap into the characters’ inner most characteristics and set them against each other and sometimes even themselves.

Although The Magician filled up some otherwise boring summer afternoons, it is not a book I would be rereading anytime soon. I would still recommend anyone who enjoys more philosophical plotlines to give it a read.

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