Book Review: Lev Grossman – The Magicians (The Magicians Trilogy #1)

An adult version of Harry Potter filled with magic, suspense and sex…. Or so they say.

Title: The Magicians (The Magicians Trilogy #1)
Author: Lev Grossman
Publisher: Viking / Penguin Books
Publish Date: Aug 11, 2009

Goodreads: 3.5/5
Barnes and Noble: 3.6/5


Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined.



To summarize this review and not waste your time with my rants, I didn’t like it.

I didn’t hate the book. I didn’t like it either. It was a good read but… meh.

To be fair, when I heard that this was a TV series, I stopped myself from watching it before I read the book, only to get bored reading the book, ended up watching the series, and finally loving it.

Grossman gave us a boring main character, Quentin Coldwater, who accidentally found himself taking the entrance exams to Brakebills, a fantasy school that taught magic. There he found Alice, Penny, Josh, Janet and Eliot.

A few chapters later, they graduated…. What? Seriously? Yes.

The story was not focused on Brakebills anyway; rather it was the characters’ journey to Fillory, a magical land written in Quentin’s favorite books as a child which they later found out actually existed.

Here are my rants now.

  1. What were the teachers doing? Were there even teachers?!

In the book, Grossman wrote a bit about how classes at Brakebills was. But if you are going to write about a magical school, you better make a well-worth teaching staff to back it. But no. Grossman wrote how ingenious the students were already and they were always either drunk or studying on their own. Or both. Out of the staff, I only remember Dean Fogg, and I didn’t even like him. Mayakovsky wasn’t even a teacher but rather a brute that forced students to study on their own and turned them into foxes. And they graduated. Done.

  1. Why were they not taught battle magic?!

And what’s worse, Grossman didn’t explain it in the book. If so, then what were they being taught there? Simple elemental manipulations, star charts and runes, symbolisms, history and whatever useless things they can’t use real life. Even with an eminent threat (when the Beast appeared in the classroom), all the more they should have been taught. Instead, the school just strengthened the wards around it. And poof, instantly safe. So much character development in that.

  1. Cliffhangers in the middle of chapters can be overdone. E.g. ALL OF THEM.

I understand every writer has their own style. I respect that. But if that was Grossman’s style, I’m not reading any more of his books. He especially held back on the sex that I was extremely looking forward to. Huhu.

  1. The pacing was just…. Urgh. Move forward please!

It was ridiculously slow. The main story is about Fillory. I know. Then wtf was with the lengthy chapters of their struggles in Brakebills? Their struggles didn’t even come in like adventures but more like more studying for them to resolve whatever the teachers threw at them. It was like reading an unnecessarily extensive prologue.

  1. Every chapter was a mess.

A compilation of random shit the author thought he should put in that moment. There were chapters where I was like, “So what does this have to do with the main story?” Nadda.

OVERALL: Stars 3.5

Save yourself and go ahead watch the series. It took me 2 weeks to finish this book. 2 fvcking weeks. I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2 days!

Grossman, tried to introduce us a world within worlds in an exhaustively used manner. No character development. You couldn’t even feel the threat in the story. No driving force for you to flip the pages.

In fairness to the characters though, I liked Eliot and Janet. I liked them more in the TV series though.

Not one I’m going to recommend to anyone.


“If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.”

“I got my heart’s desire, and there my troubles began.”

“The problem with growing up is that once you’re grown up, the people who aren’t grown up aren’t fun anymore.”

“The truth doesn’t always make a good story, does it? ”



Hope you guys found my review entertaining and informative.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Lev Grossman – The Magicians (The Magicians Trilogy #1)

  1. Your review did make me laugh! I read all three. I have a problem with not being able to stop reading once i’ve started a book or series. I didn’t like the first book too much, loved the second book, then thought the third one was pretty average. I agree with many of your points about this book.


    1. Thank you! I read your review about the second book and still may consider reading about it. In the TV series, Julia was my favorite and they said her storyline was actually in the second book. So I may still give it a chance. But not in the near future. Haha. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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