The Magician’s Series by Lev Grossman
My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars
Usually I recommend YA books. I just want to point out right now that this is not a Young Adult series. There are very adult themes in this series which include but are not limited to: sex, drugs, violence. The TV series starts at the end of January on Sci-Fi. So if you’re looking for a short series to binge before the show premiers, this is the series for you!
Trigger Warning for Sexual Violence. (Takes place in The Magician King)
Things I Loved:
- A New Experience in a Familiar Setting: I felt like while reading this that I was very much in my safe little comfort zone of the magic school trope, but at the same time this was more unique. Of course when you think of the magic school trope, you think of Hogwarts and of course, Harry Potter. But the magic academy, Brakebills, is something entirely different. I kind of thought of it as more of a magical college. I always wondered what happened behind closed doors at Hogwarts. You knew there had to be some drinking and sexual activities going on. I feel like this series had exactly what I needed in terms of vicariously experiencing a magical school at my current age.
- Unique Magic System: The magic system in this series is so much more complex than most. In a lot of fantasy, the witch or wizard simply says a word in Latin and points their wand. This isn’t the case in this world. In the first book we see the students having to learn several languages from several cultures, learning intricate hand gestures and having to account for the oddest things when casting a spell. I really liked this because it didn’t have the trope of “the chosen one”. It wasn’t enough to be born with magic in this world, you had to study it in depth and getting there with the characters was enjoyable.
- Extremely Flawed Characters: I felt like all of the characters in this story had something that I loved about them and something that I really hated about them. There wasn’t that ONE character that I picked out as infallible. I had favorites, but they weren’t on any sort of basis of perfection or purity. At one point or another I wanted to scream at every one of the main characters.
- The Universal theme of Fandom: Quentin Coldwater, our protagonist, is completely obsessed with a series of books very similar to the Narnia books about a magical land called Fillory. The books are something he always keeps in his mind and his heart. Especially in the second and third installments. I just felt closer to Quentin because of his love of a book series. I often found myself bonding more with him because of his love for a series. Let’s be real, all of us readers have that ONE series that nearly defines us. In this series, it’s a good thing that he’s so obsessed with a fantasy world because it ends up helping him on his journey.
- Original Mythology: A big part of the world he builds is the mythology behind it. I can’t say where it takes a big role because that’d be a spoiler, but I can say it had to have taken a lot of thought to come up with and execute.
- Satisfying Ending: I cannot praise the ending enough. Everything that needed to be wrapped up was. There were no lose ends (that I could think of) and the ending was realistic within the context of the story.
- World Building: I will be the first to admit that the first book has an overwhelming amount of world building. If you’re not used to fantasy books that spend an enormous amount of time and detail in to their magic systems and worlds, this may not be the series for you. I personally got annoyed in the first book, and found myself very anxious for some action to happen.
- Overused Tropes: There were a lot of tropes used throughout the series. The Magic School, The Heist, The Rebel, etc. There are several tropes that do pop up, but in it’s defense I thought that Grossman executed them extremely well. A lot of people disagree.
- Predictability: A lot of the time (especially during the more exciting parts) I could guess what was going to happen. This is, however, limited to the third book more than the others. I found the first pretty unpredictable, the second only slightly, then the third I pretty much guessed what was going to happen. Maybe I’ve read too much fantasy? But I can say I wasn’t disappointed in about 85% of the events.
Let me know if you’ve read this series and what your thoughts are in the comments! If you have a series to recommend, always feel free!
~The Grisha Lieutenant