For most of his life, Quentin Coldwater has used the Fillory (think Narnia) books to escape the doldrums of his everyday life. Now at the age of seventeen, Quentin has been given a chance he never dreamed he had — magic is real and he can become a magician.
Instead of heading to a mundane, normal college, he enlists at Brakebills, a university of magic and begins training. The one thing the books never included was that becoming a Magician is difficult, tedious work and nowhere nearly as exciting as depicted in the novels.
Lev Grossman’s The Magicians follows Quentin and a group of students during the course of their studies at Brakebill’s. Rather than having one book equal one year of Quentin’s life, we’re treated to the highlights of his magical training — from the semester spent in Antartica to the rather odd magical game played among his school and others. The episodic nature of Grossman’s novel ensures that Quentin and the reader never get entirely comfortable with how things are going, including when Quentin and his love interest Alice test out of some of the first year and are moved up to second year early. Continue reading
For some reason, I missed season one of The Magicians when it aired on SyFy.
OK, I didn’t really miss it so much as tune into the first two episodes, set a season-pass and then had it stack up on the DVR. And then I promptly deleted all the episodes halfway through the season because there are only so many hours in the day.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago when the show showed up on Netflix and I decided to give it another try.
Boy, I’m glad I did.
Based on a trilogy of novels by Lev Grossman, The Magicians follows a group of friends who are studying to become magicians at Brakebill’s School for Magic. The series is described as “Harry Potter for adults,” but I think that’s doing a great disservice to both series. The Magicians owes more a debt to the C.S. Lewis Narnia series than it does to Harry Potter, if only because our main character, Quinten Coldwater grew up reading a series of Narnia-like books and has always dreamed of visiting the magical land described there.
Like a lot of shows today, the show has an arc and a seasonal big-bad. In this case, it’s a threat called the Beast. A six-fingered magician, the Beast shows up in episode one and is a looming threat over the entire season, bringing our team together to try and stop them in order to prevent their own deaths.
The series unfolds at Brakebill’s with Quinten and his friends studying magic and trying to up their game to take on the Beast. Meanwhile, Quinten’s life-long friend Julia fails the entrance exam to Brakebill’s and is sent back to the real world. Unfortunately, the memory wipe used on her doesn’t work and she spends much of season one trying to reconnect with magic and get back into the world that Quinten is exploring.