Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman


9780399576645_p0_v4_s550x406Publication Date: August 11th 2009 

Goodreads Synopsis

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

My Rating: ⭐

Before I start banging on about how this book made me want to rip my eyes from their sockets, I’ve got a disclaimer: I Watched the Show before Reading the Book!

I know, I’m a terrible reader but honestly, if I’d read this book and not watched the show, I never would have gone near the show with a  ten foot pole and I would have missed out on a really good series because the show is so much better then the novel!!

I had high hopes going in, how could I not? I loved the tv show and I’d bought it in floppy paperback edition, by far the most superior of all paperbacks. How wrong I was.


This story follows the main character Quinten Coldwater, a total arsehole who has no development throughout the book.

I expected this at first, even in the show Q was never my favourite character but he really does change for the better throughout. In this there was nothing and he came across so selfish. For example he cheats on his girlfriend and then get’s pissed when she also sleeps with someone else.

During the show I came to love the cast of characters and I knew I’d never like the book characters as much due to certain changes from book to show, however, I really enjoyed the relationship and how close the five main characters were and how one character was much more prominent throughout this then in the live action version.

Another point towards the show is the diversity. These previously white characters are transformed into more diverse characters of all colours with much more personality to them.

Also this book made me realise how much I love Margot with all my heart who’s character is completely different in the book.

Writing and Plot

My number one problem with this book is the pacing! We experience four years of Quinten’s life, his four years at school, in the first 100 or so pages. You get whiplash going from, 2 months later to the school year passed so quick. Why even bother writing about the school experience when it goes so quickly.

And to top it all off, the last 100 pages, where finally the adventure is starting, it goes by in a flash, with so much jack packed in there!

Things are mentioned briefly, a couple of pages at most, and then dropped until hundreds of pages later. Again a cause for metaphorical whiplash.

My second problem with this book is that this is the amount of terms the words “breasts” and “bossoms” were mentioned. This book is told threw Quintens perspective and Q, it seems, has a crush on everybody and is constantly describing their chest.

To me, when comparing the story telling of the show and book, the live action version seems to take more care in the story telling and development of the characters, drawing things out, giving them more depth. 


As you can probably gather, I have no plans on continuing on with this trilogy, I’m considering unhauling this first book ASAP because I can’t bare it being on my shelf (dramatic much?).

I do, however, have every intention to watch the TV show and maybe even rewatch the hole thing to disinfect my brain from this reading experience.  Thanks for reading.

Elli xx





5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman”

  1. That’s kind of funny, because I actually thought the TV show was garbage and added the book to my to-read list because I thought it might be better! I’ve read several reviews (including yours) that say the TV show is better than the book, so maybe the book is something I should avoid reading. 🙂 I think the premise of the show is pretty cool but to me it just seemed poorly done. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It took me about the first season before I really got into the show, it was pretty confusing at first but I think it improves once it “finds itself” I suppose. But yeah the book really wasnt for me.
      If you do read it I hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

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