“The Magicians” by Lev Grossman (Week 1 – Book a Week)

The fantasy genre has a small but committed group of superfans.  There are shelves and shelves of stories about magic and elves that no one but the deeply committed fan has ever heard of.  But, the canon has its crossover hits.  The Magicians takes many of those beloved works (particularly Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia) and builds his book on their sacred ground.  But it’s no rehash.

The idea of magic is inherently tied to power.  The idea of young people gifted with the ability to do more than mortal men is a fantasy in its purest sense.  Power is what makes magic so tempting as an idea in fiction.  Doing impossible feats by conjuring unknowable powers is a sexy possibility.  But what happens when there is no menace to turn those powers against?  With no Sauron, what would Gandalf do all day?

The idea of a group of listless recent college students and graduates with superpowers is a scary one.  The book has its share of adventure and derring do. But it’s the frank way that the book looks at sex and death that raises the stakes.  One scene where a female wizard slits the throat of an anthropomorphic ferret stands out as more honest than genre generally allows.   The consequences in this world are real and that makes the wonderland all the more wonderful.

 

Recommended

 

Schedule

Week 2 – The Mission Song By John LeCarré

Week 3 – Machine Man By Max Barry