Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The entire time I spent reading this book one thought kept floating throughout my brain: "Harry Potter goes to College." Although this "college" is hidden away by magic, like Hogwarts, it's more comparable to the real world.

The story's hero, Quentin, is lured to Brakesbill College where only the brightest and most talented are schooled. He is tested and passes the entrance exams with flying colors and thus begins his post high school secondary education. The program is a five year program which Quentin and 2 others are advanced to complete in 4 years.

You may wonder what a magician does after he graduates and is returned to the "real" world. Their secondary education wasn't in the usual studies but their studies do allow them to have or be anything they want. Life is boring and dismal and drugs, alcohol and sex are their main interests. I found this very interesting and also very probable.

Throughout the story there are references to Fillory, a mystical land of which several children's books were written years ago. Quention loved the books of Fillory and has read them so often he knows them backwards and forwards. He and his close Brakebills friends discover that Fillory is real and they set out to have their own adventures in the land they only dreamed of as children. However, the "adventure" in Fillory turns out disastrous and lives are lost.

I am at a loss to say if I would recommend "The Magicians" or not. I thought the author did a good job of looking beyond the magic and evolving the characters as they faced a world that no longer seemed to belong to them. He looks at the question of self worth and self importance from several angles and perspectives. He's made the ability to do magic not only appealing but terrifying as well, if only in terms of questioning what to do with and how to use such a power.