The Magicians by Lev Grossman was one of the few books recommended to me recently that I picked up and didn’t shortly put back down. I downloaded the sample chapters for iPhone Kindle, and while I didn’t feel exactly swept away by the narrative, it seemed well written and like it might actually contain some elements of the sort of escapist fantasy I used to enjoy as a kid.
SPOILERS AHEAD (not that most of you will mind, I imagine)
So turns out the teenage protag who gets swept off to magic school ala Hogwarts crossed with a snooty Ivy League college isn’t much of a hero. I don’t really have a problem with this, as a reader, having read and loved some serious anti-heroes in my day. Turns out he’s not really an anti-hero, either. He’s just a grumpy, alcoholic, drugged out idiot who isn’t good for much through the majority of the story and in the end still isn’t good for much.
This was a vastly disappointing read, with an ending that was not so much bittersweet as… well, just plainly bitter. The good guys don’t win, because you never meet anyone who’d really qualify. You don’t escape to the reality of a fantastical world, because the entire theme of the book is that fantasy is EVIL and will kill you and the people you care about.
It feels like the author’s entire intent was to seduce readers of fantasy with a story that started out looking kind of promising only so he could lecture them about what utter fucking failures they were as human beings for reading fantasy.
Not my cuppa, thanks.