Tag Archives: magic

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

30 Jun

The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

A while ago I was reading an article about the progression of the series on SyFy called “The Magicians” that would be moving forward in production. Hey! I thought, I read that! That would make a great series!

I decided then that it was time to finish the trilogy in order to be fully prepared for, what I can only imagine, will be a magical and wonderful television series.

The Magicians:

In the fall of 2012 I was living in a new community, had just graduated library school, and I was looking to get involved with my local library. I was in luck because they had just introduced a sort of “books on tap” kind of book club and the first meeting was the next month. The title the librarian chose was “The Magicians” a book I had only sort of seen but not really heard of. I knew that I would love it because I enjoyed Harry Potter and I like stories with magical realism inserted into the plot.

I hated it. What was also going on in my life was that my Mother was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I had time to read “frivolous” books about magic. I needed real big L literature. I went to Madrid for a visit while my husband worked and then, a few months after her diagnosis, my Mother passed away.

But this book kept needling me. It had all of the elements of a book that I would love. And I should have loved it. I ran an experiment: If I read this book a second time and still hate it: well, ¬†I tried. But if I read it a second time and loved it, it would be proven: sometimes we aren’t ready for a book.

I loved it. Quentin was just moody enough and I was just old enough to love this. I was grieving the loss of my Mother and I got it, Quentin. I understood you. I understood what it means to be waiting for something more to happen.

The Magician King

For this title, I knew that I didn’t have a lot of time to read. I ordered the book used (and scored a used library copy at that–treasure!!!!) so I tried reading it on e-book. But it wasn’t working for me. We hear more from Julie and Quentin is getting older and I just had a hard time reading it. I was busy with a new job and I knew that I was going to really enjoy this book! I didn’t want to rush it.

So I took a chance and downloaded the audiobook. And that is the moment this series became special to me. Mark Bramhall’s voice at first appeared a little off for me. To narrate this story I had always assumed a young voice in my mind. A twenty-something young man’s voice full of sarcasm and wonder and maybe a touch of naivete.

But as the story darkened and as Quentin grew into his own I knew that this was the perfect choice. Bramhall’s voice makes it. The sparkle of wonder at being in Fillory is rightfully shadowed in a dripping sardonic tone that often colors the story much sadder than I think it would be if I were reading it on the page.

We get to know Fillory much more intimately and following Quentin is a pleasure–even if sometimes it’s so very difficult to see him flounder. And the introduction of Julia and her trials and tribulations make this story so much more real than Harry Potter could ever be–because this is a story about growing up. Harry Potter is so much more about what it means to be a child and what it means to tell a good story with characters written with the complex depth reserved for children’s literature. Here, with the Magicians trilogy we are privy to real human characters and what it means to long for one’s childhood. To long for something more–and to realize that even when you get that “more” you may not always be happy with it.

The Magician’s Land:

Because I was so transfixed with Mark Bramhall’s narration I decided to finish the trilogy on audio. I cried many times and I sat in my car on more than one occasion¬†just to finish the chapter. Here Grossman’s talents really shine. He is able to sculpt the story into one that will become (or SHOULD) become a classic. This trilogy allows its characters to make mistakes and to grow from them. Quentin starts this story as a moody teenager who takes love and life and magic for granted. We watch him grow into a man who knows his limits, knows who he is, and understands that even with all of his failings: he matters. He struggles with his failings but he knows in his heart that while he can’t fix everything and he can’t make it right, he can make it good.

This story spoke to me in a such a very real and awe-inspiring way. Much like Harry Potter is to so many readers, this story awoke in me a passion and nostalgia for the story as I closed it’s final pages. I found myself feeling what the characters were feeling and that is a powerful way to immerse oneself into a story.

I know that I will revisit Quentin and his friends soon. I hope that you do, too.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

15 Jul

If Neil Gaiman isn’t a Time Lord himself then he must live in a magical realm that mere humans are not privy to and therefore must write us magical tales and sell them as fiction. Neil Gaiman, I love you.

I have been waiting for “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” since I got the email from B&N that I could pre-order the book way back in April. I was not disappointed. Here is a book that reminds you that sometimes seeing things differently as a child is okay, you were merely seeing the truth that adults were blind to. Gaiman reminds his readers that magic exists but that maybe those who live near magic are not so eager to share it with the other world–they are too busy keeping it at bay and keeping it from destroying the world they love (ahem, TIME LORD MUCH?). Now that I think about it: maybe this is just a book about lady time lords.

The story seems simple enough: A man is attending a funeral in his hometown and he finds himself, in his grief, driving to the house at the end of the lane, a place where he played as a child. While he is there he starts to remember a particularly vivid and dangerous summer when he was 7 and the girl at the house at the end of the lane, Lettie Hemstock, was 11. Suddenly we are taken back in time to the summer when the man, as a young boy, must move out of his room for a renter. This renter kills himself in the boy’s father’s car at the end of the lane. Suddenly, strange things happen. The boy and Lettie unleash a creature into the world that is as old or older than the world itself, a creature from “the old country.” The boy and Lettie must trap the creature and destroy it before it destroys the world.

By the end of the book you wonder how many times you’ve found yourself forgetting something whimsical and magical from your childhood thinking it was just a dream but now second guessing yourself–maybe it was real. Maybe, you had the grandest adventure of your life.

As an afterthought:

Did anyone get to this passage and wonder if he was throwing out a Doctor Who reference,(maybe I read too fast but it seems like an interesting choice of words)? pg. 143, “I knew where Rose was–the peculiar crinkling of space into dimensions that fold like origami and blossom like strange orchids, and which would mark the last good time before the eventual end of everything and the next Big Bang, which would be, I knew now, nothing of the kind.”