The Magicians series did not end up being the series I was expecting when I started it. I thought it would be more of an epic tale, one where someone learns they can do magic and have to go on grand adventures exploring their new power and saving their new lives. It ended up being snippets of Quinten growing up and finding out who is as a person. Each book could have stood alone. There was the loose thread of Fillory wound throughout but I felt like if I had read them out of order I wouldn’t have missed too much of the story. I liked this element though and I think the last book The Magicians Land was my favorite of the three books.
The Magicians Land picks up not too long after the last book ended. Quinten has been thrown out of Fillory and he is trying to find a new path in his life. After a short stint as a professor at Bakebills he gets caught up in a robbery plot.
Quinten and a number of others are hired to steal a cae. They don’t have any idea what they are stealing, just that they will get a big pay off when the job is done. Most of those involved need the cash to start a new path in life and are willing to take part even without much information.
The heist goes wrong and Quinten finds himself having to make some tough choices. Choices tied to his past and figuring out if he should save that past or let everything go. Quinten spent most of the series trying to find his path in life, trying to figure out if what has happened should influence what will happen later in his life.
Quinten was an interesting character. I never could quite determine how to read him throughout the series. He always seems lost and unsatisifed. I got a bit frustrated at times wondering when he was going to stop looking for something new. Every time he got what he wanted he felt empty. He became a magician but didn’t feel like he had a purpose as a magician. Then he became a king of Fillory and wanted epic quests. He didn’t want to just rule, he was always searching for something just beyond his reach.
At the end of the last book I felt like I finally understood him. Quinten was someone who grew up being told a number of things were impossible; magic and Fillory. Then he learns they are all real and he is part of them. He is in awe of this new way of life but reality quickly tramples over him.
Fantasy worlds and magic are complciated. It isn’t the utopia we all imagine it to be. We want to fall into our favorite stories, thinking things will be much better, easier. What Quinten learns is that these worlds and this way of life is just as complicated and difficult to process as the one he has walked away from. Nothing is simple. No land is perfect, no story has the perfect ending.
I loved this look into fantasy and fiction. Stories are our escapes but that is because we get to close the book. We don’t have to actually live those lives. The characters make the decisions and we get to watch safely from behind the pages. I love the Harry Potter series but living in that world would probably disenchant me with the whole series. Once you enter the world you see the flaws and the issues and if you live the story you have to live with the choices and consequences.
This series explained how it would be if we fell into those stories. Quinten learns quickly that there is no such thing a s perfect life and land. You, the one living the story, make the story itself. You make the turns and choices. Wanting that escape is natural and important but getting stuck in that idea will leave you feeling empty and lost. You have to find yourself outside of the story as well.
If you never find your place you will always feel lost. You need an identity that is real and solid. Life is complicated and stories can be difficult but once you find your place they have unmeasurable worth.
I enjoyed this series once I put aside my expectations. It was a fun story. It was a great look at life inside a story and see how finding a balance between fantasy and reality is essential.
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.
My birthday was in November and I got a few gift cards to Barnes and Noble, which means I got a nice amount of new books! Now, I have zero self-control when it comes to book shopping. I wanted to try to only spend the gift cards but that didn’t happen. I just get absorbed into the shelves and find myself with a pile of books in my arms before too long. Here are the books I will be adding to my shelves.
Vicious – V.E. Schwab – This is the one I am currently reading. I have read V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series and loved it. I also loved This Savage Song. I’ve heard great things about her first book and I was eager to get my hands on it. I am about 3/4 of the way through it and I am loving it! I will have a review up once I finish it.
The Magicians – Lev Grossman – I know this series just became a tv series but I had heard about it in passing before that. This is just one that I see on recommendation lists periodically and I have always been slightly intrigued. I may start reading this after Christmas because it is part of a series and I need to stall my spending until after my bank account recovered from Christmas and if I like the first book in a series I have to continue with the series. I can’t just read the first book and then other books in between. I have to read what I can of a series all at once.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness– This concept of this one intrigued me. It is about all the other characters in the adventure stories that aren’t the “Chosen One.” It seems interesting and a fun read.
Ink and Bone – Rachel Caine – I have no idea where I first heard of this one but the story concept grabbed me right away. It is about a time when The Great Library of Alexandria is still around. It controls all knowledge and the owning of books is illegal (one of my nightmares). It is about a boy trying to take this organization down. I love the idea but it is another one that is part of a series so that may end up on the back of my reading list until after Christmas.
We Are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson – This is another one that I can’t quite remember where I heard about it. It is about a boy who is given the chance to either destroy the planet or save it. It is up to him to determine if the world and his life are worth saving. I thought it sounded like one that will make me think as I read it. I love books that make me question and put me in moral dilemmas so this should be an interesting read.
The View from the Cheap Seats – Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman – This one my mom actually found while we were wandering around the bookstore. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and this book has a number of his essays on a range of topics. This is the only nonfiction book I bought but I am hoping it gives me some inspiration or at least lets me learn more about one of my favorite authors.
Genius: The Game – Leopoldo Gout – This one I saw on the shelf and was instantly attracted to it. The cover pulled me in. It has a pretty simple summary, a number of geniuses are brought together to play a game that will have world wide effects. I like the idea of a mind game. Not sure what to expect from this one but I am excited to read it.
So these are some of my new books. Have you read any of these? If so what do you think of them? Have you bought any new books recently?