The Magicians: A Novel is by Lev Grossman and is the first book in a trilogy.
The blurb: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have stayed in Narnia? Or why the children in those books never could? Why did they always get booted out of such a world and have to go home? Well Quentin Coldwater wonders that about his beloved Fillory books that he is a little more than obsessed with despite the fact they were written for children. The world though really doesn’t have magic in it does it? Or does it? Suddenly Quentin find out it does when he is admitted into Brakebills to study magic after a bizarre entrance exam. Turns out magic users are all rather brilliant, and perhaps a little eccentric because of it, because it takes a brilliant mind to excel at magic. It is tedious and difficult. However he is at a loss at what to do with it once he has learned it. That is when he and his friends discover Fillory is in fact real and launch a trip to it. As you might imagine, it is not the utopia they expected. There is real danger in that world. Real consequences.
Why I picked up the Book: I found this one on a hunt. Browsing the shelves of a bookstore for some books to buy. Urban magic stories interest me so for that reason alone I was compelled. Then the alternate world aspect also intrigued me.
What is good about the novel: It gives this sort of nostalgic vibe to it. His Fillory reminds me of my Narnia immensely. As a child who doesn’t wonder what it would be like to adventure into their books? Mind you, always wanted to go to Middle Earth. I could see how the character could be so attached to the stories. This desire that such a world really existed. That magic really existed. That there was more to the world than what he was experiencing. It is a discontent I am familiar with. He does his characters very well. You get into them right away. They are flawed but likable. You understand their motivations. The ending of the book is great. You know that you are going to come across one of the children from the Fillory books, who actually existed and traveled there and one remained behind. The how of that was never answered. You suspect you will find that out. However, the answer still comes as a surprise in the end. So really I enjoyed the plot overall. It works well.
What is not so good about this novel: I literally kept comparing it to the Narnia books because of the similarities and that got bothersome. However, really my only complaint was you are anticipating this great adventure into this other realm from the get-go… but it takes quite some time to get there. A great deal of the novel is the school and build-up. I think there could have been more in Fillory to compensate for that, or less buildup. One or the other really. However, I enjoyed the trip so not much of a complaint.
I rank it 7/10