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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

Currently reading

The Dead Zone
Stephen King
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
Samuel Richardson, Angus Ross
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Piper Kerman
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
Magicians - Lev Grossman The only things I knew about The Magicians before I read it was...1) It was good.2) It was basically Harry Potter, but the characters went to a university (Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy) rather than a secondary institution (Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry).Pleasantly, I discovered many more things about The Magicians as I read it in my spare time.1) Its main character (especially later in the book) takes Harry Potter at his most angsty and quintuples it.2) Magic is really, really hard. You have to be a genius to even scrape a bad grade at Brakebills. It's both a science and an art form. Hell, one of the characters (whose skill is in light magic) tries make a spell to isolate photons for her senior thesis.3) Magic does have the potential to screw you over. (Such as Quentin's kind of unfair rejection of his unrequited high school love Julia when he comes back for the summer holidays.)Yes, I liked this novel. However, it's a shame I didn't find it as... good as it could have been. Maybe I was too hyped going into it, maybe I'm being a bit unfair, but I do have my problems.Firstly, I didn't enjoy the pacing. Due to the magic surrounding Brakebills, time is supposed to run a lot faster than it does in the normal world. So, for example, March at Brakebills is Christmas-time in our world. That's fine by me, but it seemed like both Alice and Quentin and Penny absolutely flew through their school years. One moment they were itty-bitty first years, then about two or three months in, they were elevated to second year. They continue to zoom through the school years, with a few scant references to academic study, but by third year, there's more in the way of sitting around in their common room and exchanging quips with their peers.Oh, of course, there's a Welters tournament or two, which is like chess/chequers, but done with real people casting spells to complete the board. That breaks up the monotony somewhat, but basically, the main focus after the fourth year seems to be Quentin and his friends. And interpersonal drama. Sadly, I just didn't care for it, and longed for more descriptions of magic and this wonderful world.Our main character, Quentin, was a bit of a wet rag. To begin with, I thought he was an okay protagonist. A bit of a miserable bugger, but okay, fine. It's just a shame he turns into Angsty Potter around two thirds of the way in. Especially when he gets a girlfriend and has a few other romantic affairs throughout the latter parts of the story. I should also add around now that a large subplot revolves around these fantasy books Quentin read as a child, which take place in a magical world called Fillory, accessible through a portal, with talking animals, centaurs, satyrs, and a menace that looms over the whole world... Yeah, it's pretty much The Magicians' equivalent of Narnia. Hell, there's even an empty castle and royal seats, free for the taking for true of heart children of Adam Earth.Somewhere within the tomb was a crown, a silver crown that had once been worn by the noble King Martin, centuries ago, when the Chatwins reigned. If they could recover the crown and bring it to Castle Whitespire, then they could occupy the thrones themselves - or four of them could anyway - and become kings and queens of Fillory and end the threat of the Watcherwoman forever.The weakest part of the book for me was when everybody graduated from Brakebills, and it was nothing but parties and sitting around the apartment. The plot ground to a halt, until one character came back into the story and announced they were all going to travel into another dimension. (As you do.) The trip into Fillory was interesting to begin with, I guess, but I didn't quite have the heartbroken reaction I feel I was supposed to have upon the death of a certain character. Also, the fight scene with the main villain (the Beast, a suited-and-booted man who has a tree branch covering his face) was kind of underwhelming. However, there were a few clever twists in Fillory. In particular, the revelation that one character has been a pawn in a quest to change the time line. I really do love the idea of Brakebills, though. I liked the main character being a frustrated genius, wallowing in his boredom of the mundane world before being introduced to the world of sorcery. I love the idea of magic being extremely difficult to work with, and requiring all sorts of conditions for even a minor spell to work, but unfortunately, this novel wasn't quite for me. The pacing was too fast, I was bored whenever we went outside Brakebills, and even some moments of really nice writing (like the description of Fillory the first time they visit). An interesting concept, with a slightly less-than-stellar execution. 3.5/5.(This review is also available on my blog: http://book-wyrm.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-magicians-by-lev-grossman.html)