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The Magicians
Cover of The Magicians
The Magicians
The Magicians Series, Book 1
The New York Times bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world, soon to be an original series on Syfy
"The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. . . . Hogwarts was never like this."

—George R.R. Martin

"Sad, hilarious, beautiful, and essential to anyone who cares about modern fantasy."
—Joe Hill

"A very knowing and wonderful take on the wizard school genre."
—John Green

"The Magicians may just be the most subversive, gripping and enchanting fantasy novel I've read this century."
—Cory Doctorow
"This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels in order to upend them . . . an unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story."
—The New Yorker
"The best urban fantasy in years."
—A.V. Club
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he's secretly fascinated with a series of children's fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .
The prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician's Land, The Magicians is one of the most daring and inventive works of literary fantasy in years. No one who has escaped into the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter should miss this breathtaking return to the landscape of the imagination.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The New York Times bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world, soon to be an original series on Syfy
"The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea. . . . Hogwarts was never like this."

—George R.R. Martin

"Sad, hilarious, beautiful, and essential to anyone who cares about modern fantasy."
—Joe Hill

"A very knowing and wonderful take on the wizard school genre."
—John Green

"The Magicians may just be the most subversive, gripping and enchanting fantasy novel I've read this century."
—Cory Doctorow
"This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic fantasy novels in order to upend them . . . an unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story."
—The New Yorker
"The best urban fantasy in years."
—A.V. Club
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he's secretly fascinated with a series of children's fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .
The prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician's Land, The Magicians is one of the most daring and inventive works of literary fantasy in years. No one who has escaped into the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter should miss this breathtaking return to the landscape of the imagination.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book BROOKLYN

    Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.

    They picked their way along the cold, uneven sidewalk together: James, Julia, and Quentin. James and Julia held hands. That's how things were now. The sidewalk wasn't quite wide enough, so Quentin trailed after them, like a sulky child. He would rather have been alone with Julia, or just alone period, but you couldn't have everything. Or at least the available evidence pointed overwhelmingly to that conclusion.

    "Okay!" James said over his shoulder. "Q. Let's talk strategy."

    James seemed to have a sixth sense for when Quentin was starting to feel sorry for himself. Quentin's interview was in seven minutes. James was right after him.

    "Nice firm handshake. Lots of eye contact. Then when he's feeling comfortable, you hit him with a chair and I'll break his password and e-mail Princeton."

    "Just be yourself, Q," Julia said.

    Her dark hair was pulled back in a wavy bunch. Somehow it made it worse that she was always so nice to him.

    "How is that different from what I said?"

    Quentin did the magic trick again. It was a very small trick, a basic onehanded sleight with a nickel. He did it in his coat pocket where nobody could see. He did it again, then he did it backward.

    "I have one guess for his password," James said. "Password."

    It was kind of incredible how long this had been going on, Quentin thought. They were only seventeen, but he felt like he'd known James and Julia forever. The school systems in Brooklyn sorted out the gifted ones and shoved them together, then separated the ridiculously brilliant ones from the merely gifted ones and shoved them together, and as a result they'd been bumping into each other in the same speaking contests and regional Latin exams and tiny, specially convened ultra-advanced math classes since elementary school. The nerdiest of the nerds. By now, their senior year, Quentin knew James and Julia better than he knew anybody else in the world, not excluding his parents, and they knew him. Everybody knew what everybody else was going to say before they said it. Everybody who was going to sleep with anybody else had already done it. Julia—pale, freckled, dreamy Julia, who played the oboe and knew even more physics than he did—was never going to sleep with Quentin.

    Quentin was thin and tall, though he habitually hunched his shoulders in a vain attempt to brace himself against whatever blow was coming from the heavens, and which would logically hit the tall people first. His shoulder length hair was freezing in clumps. He should have stuck around to dry it after gym, especially with his interview today, but for some reason—maybe he was in a self-sabotaging mood—he hadn't. The low gray sky threatened snow. It seemed to Quentin like the world was off ering up special little tableaux of misery just for him: crows perched on power lines, stepped-in dog shit, windblown trash, the corpses of innumerable wet oak leaves being desecrated in innumerable ways by innumerable vehicles and pedestrians. "God, I'm full," James said. "I ate too much. Why do I always eat too much?"

    "Because you're a greedy pig?" Julia said brightly. "Because you're tired of being able to see your feet? Because you're trying to make your stomach touch your penis?"

    James put his hands behind his head, his fingers in his wavy chestnut hair, his camel cashmere coat wide open to the November cold, and belched mightily. Cold never bothered him. Quentin felt cold all the time, like he was trapped in his own private...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 1, 2009
    Harry Potter discovers Narnia is real in this derivative fantasy thriller from Time
    book critic Grossman (Codex
    ). Quentin Coldwater, a Brooklyn high school student devoted to a children’s series set in the Narnia-like world of Fillory, is leading an aimless existence until he’s tapped to enter a mysterious portal that leads to Brakebills College, an exclusive academy where he’s taught magic. Coldwater, whose special gifts enable him to skip grades, finds his family’s world “mundane and domestic” when he returns home for vacation. He loses his innocence after a prank unintentionally allows a powerful evil force known only as the Beast to enter the college and wreak havoc. Eventually, Coldwater’s powers are put to the test when he learns that Fillory is a real place and how he can journey there. Genre fans will easily pick up the many nods to J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis, not to mention J.R.R. Tolkien in the climactic battle between the bad guy and a magician. 5-city author tour.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 28, 2009
    Grossman's novel is a postadolescent Harry Potter
    , following apprentices in the art of magic through their time as students at an upstate New York college to their postcollegiate Manhattan misdeeds, with jaded ennui tempering the magical aura. Mark Bramhall, a smooth baritone with a supple speaking voice, reads carefully, with a slight air of heaviness and sorrow. He pauses frequently and freights the silences with a tenderness well befitting a coming-of-age novel. A Viking hardcover (Reviews, June 1).

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2009
    Grossman (Codex, 2004, etc.) imagines a sorcery school whose primary lesson seems to be that bending the world to your will isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    When Quentin manages to find Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy and pass its baffling entrance exam, he finally feels at home somewhere. Back in the real world, Quentin and fellow students, like brilliant, crippling shy Alice and debonair, sexually twisted Eliot, were misfits, obsessed with a famous children's series called Fillory and Further (The Chronicles of Narnia, very lightly disguised). Brakebills teaches them how to tap into the universe's flow of energy to cast spells; they're ready to graduate and…then what?"You can do nothing or anything or everything," cautions Alice, who has become Quentin's lover."You have to find something to really care about to keep from running totally off the rails." Her warning seems apt as he indulges in aimless post-grad drinking and partying, eventually betraying Alice with two other Brakebills alums. The discovery that Fillory actually exists offers Quentin a chance to redeem himself with Alice and find a purpose for his life as well. But Fillory turns out to be an even more dangerous, anarchic place than the books suggested, and it harbors a Beast who's already made a catastrophic appearance at Brakebills. The novel's climax includes some spectacular magical battles to complement the complex emotional entanglements Grossman has deftly sketched in earlier chapters. The bottom line has nothing to do with magic at all:"There's no getting away from yourself," Quentin realizes. After a dreadful loss that he discovers is the result of manipulation by forces that care nothing about him or his friends, Quentin chooses a bleak, circumscribed existence in the nonmagical world. Three of his Brakebills pals return to invite him back to Fillory: Does this promise new hope, or threaten more delusions?

    Very dark and very scary, with no simple answers provided—fantasy for grown-ups, in other words, and very satisfying indeed.

    (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from May 1, 2009
    Most of us secretly believed as children that we were somehow destined for greatness. Someday there would be a letter delivered by owl or a magical wardrobe, and it would turn out we were the long-lost ruler of a land in eternal winter! "Time" magazine book critic Grossman ("The Codex") explores what it might be like if this really happened. High school senior Quentin is on his way to a college interview when he wanders off the street and ends up transported to another place]where it's still summer. At first he thinks he must be in the land of Fillory, where his favorite childhood books took place, but no, he is actually at a magical college in upstate New York. He passes the entrance exam and decides to skip the rest of senior year and become a wizard insteadwell, wouldn't you? In the course of his adventures, he finds out that studying magic is actually insanely difficult and that fighting a war for the royal succession of an alternate world is much less glamorous than it sounds. But this is not quite a "be careful what you wish for" story. Ultimately, being a magician is, in fact, awesome. This is a book for grown-up fans of children's fantasy and would also appeal to those who loved Donna Tartt's "The Secret History". Highly recommended.

    Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Magicians Series, Book 1
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