The Magicians: A Spoiler Free Review

“Can a man who can cast a spell ever really grow up?” – Dean Fogg, The Magicians


With The Magicians, Lev Grossman has given us a fantasy good enough to be placed in the annals with The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and (though it is no great compliment in my opinion) His Dark Materials trilogy. Stylistically, it reads more like The Yiddish Policeman’s Union than any of these books, and though it is filled with throwbacks to Narnia & HP, it is by no means appropriate for children. Magicians is best thought of as a Harry Potter for adults, though I know plenty of adults who would find its sex, booze, and drugs, and general hedonism & cynicism, a literary deal-breaker.

In regard to its literary merit, I believe Lev Grossman has introduced himself as one of the finest prose writers of our time–his voice is compelling, witty, and dripping with sardonic humor. The finest praise I can lavish on him, however, is the amazing way he has crafted a world within a world. Magicians is, without a doubt, one of the finest frame stories I’ve read, and the way Grossman uses the fictional world of Fillory to comment on the fictional universe of The Magicians is a case study in literary genius. It makes Gaiman’s World’s End (which I thoroughly enjoyed) look, ironically enough, a bit childish by comparison.

Like many others, I am excited to see if Grossman can follow-up his high caliber fantasy debut with an equally splendid sophomore work when he introduces The Magician King in the summer of 2011. If you cannot wait until then, I’ve got a little secret for you, compliments of a fellow book loving nerd & friend: he published a fantastic non-fiction essay called “The Death of a Civil Servant” in the May volume of The Believer.

Go. Read. You know you want to.

And for those who want a more detailed review of the book, stay tuned for my in-depth analysis, The Magicians: Expelliarmus Escapism.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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