The Magicians – Review (Minor Spoilers)
I have been hearing about The Magicians series for a while. I saw it became a tv series on SyFy. It is just one of those books that I have seen recommended over and over again and I finally decided to give it a shot. When I bought the book, the cashier at Barnes and Noble told me, “Great choice, I love this series.” I went into this book with very high expectations and I was a bit let down, to be honest. There is potential in this book and I am going to continue with this series to see if that potential lives up to anything.
The Magicians book follows Quintin Coldwater as he attempts to find his purpose in the world. He is someone who is always on the outskirts and has never felt like he fits in. He adores a book series called the “Fillory,” series. They have a Tales of Narnia vibe to them.
One day after a college interview gone wrong he gets a mysterious note that leads him to Brakebills, a school of magic. After passing the entrance exam he enters a whole new world, one of magic and possibility. The first book follows his time through school and him finding out the land he has obsessed about his whole life, Fillory, is a real place
That is about all there is too this book. Quintin goes to school, studies and finds out Fillory is real and has a final battle at the end. Most of the book is just him going through school. Brakebills had a Harry Potter feel to it. A magic school, that is boarding school, that no one but those chosen can find. They are separated into school years and later into specialities (though Quintin never gets one).
The first two-thirds of the book nothing really happens. Each chapter is a vignette or a short story of some incident during his schooling. Everything happens and gets fixed inside of that chapter. Nothing last beyond the chapter, no conflict resonates throughout the entire book.
I enjoyed the chapters, but I found myself asking, “So what?”. I wanted to know more, needed to know where the story was going. Was there some bigger danger they would learn to fight? Was Quintin going to lose the magic and have to fight to get it back? Where was the overall story heading? Did it have a destination or was it just a glimpse into this kid getting a new life? If that was the case how was that going to sustain 3 books?
It wasn’t until the last third that everything started happening. I won’t say what happened in order not to spoil it but the ending gave me a reason to keep reading. It was action packed, fast-paced and showed me that this story had potential. There was a purpose and it could go somewhere. If it wasn’t for that final part, I wouldn’t have picked up the next book in the series.
The other issue I had with this book was the magic system. I do not know how to explain the magic system. It has something to do with circumstances, which I am not sure what that means in the context of magic. It is complex, and it appears to be a difficult system to learn, which I liked but I wish I understood how it worked better. I felt like we had to trust the characters and just let magic, be magic. Which I guess is all right but makes it hard to follow sometimes.
Quintin is our main character and his is someone who cannot be happy no matter what. He is a type of person who drives me insane. He gets magic, but it isn’t enough. He finds out Fillory is real, but that isn’t enough either. I groaned every time he would take a step back and say something like, “I thought this is what I wanted but I feel like something is missing.” There was just always something missing, and I got super frustrated by his complaining by the end. I wanted him happy for five minutes.
I did not love this book, but the ending showed me that there is potential. I feel like a greater point is being made, and that it is just taking time to manifest. I am almost done with the second book at this point and I like it better. I am interested to see how everything plays out and if this long introduction was worth it or not.