The Magicians was recommended to me by a friend of a friend who is a friend of the author (got that?). It is about a young man, Quentin, who lives a dreary life as a teenager feeling miserable for himself. He is in love with a friend who is in love with their other friend, and dreads having to go to an interview for college admissions. When he finally gets around to this interview, he finds the interviewer dead on the floor. A beautiful EMT is there – she’ll be back later, don’t you worry – and he finds the last of a series of books he read as a child. Fillory, the land in which this series of books takes place, is the Quentin’s Holy Grail. He dreams of leaving his mundane life and becoming King of Fillory. In his search for Fillory, Quentin finds himself attending a magic school, turns into a goose, and has all of his wishes come true (kind of).
The Magicians takes us through a Harry Potter type experience. Quentin is a young man living in a magical world that those around him don’t know exists. Unlike Harry, though, Quentin is not a likeable hero. He is one of those guys who you just want to scream at and say “You ungrateful idiot! Learn to be thankful!” He is condescending to his friends, rude to his parents, and makes some really unforgivable mistakes.
This book was written as a series of books in one: It really should have been written as a series of short stories, instead of a novel. There were too many threads started at the beginning of the book that were tied up at various points throughout. Each ending of a thread felt as though it were the end of a book. I would prefer a collection of short stories to one novel with multiple endings.
Grossman’s language and ability to describe are provoking. There were several passages I read a few times over in order to absorb them better. The vocabulary he used, some of which Grossman made up, was very interesting.