I had heard, God knows where, that The Magicians was a good modern fantasy story. If I ever find out who it was that told me this, they will be spending a long time apologising to me. Thinking about it now, some time after I finished reading it, it actually ranks close to A Week In December on my all time list of most hated books.
The book follows Quentin Coldwater (I know), a miserable teenager who seems to spend the entire book moping and not really liking anything or anyone at all. Not bad in itself, I live most of my life that way, but in a book with horrible writing, a dull plot and paper-thin characters, the protagonist needs to have a bit of something about him. The whole thing is just beneath beige.
Harry Potter for adults, they said, but I presume what Grossman tries to illustrate to us during the magic college sections of the book is magical realism – endless study for little reward and that those who can perform magic aren’t so different from anybody else and can have equally mundane existences. I say this because it can be the only explanation for the crushing tedium that this book inspires.
The writing is bad. There appear to be unexplained parts all over the gaff. Perhaps these are explained in later books, but I refuse to read them. The characterisation is appalling. Ignoring Quentin’s complete lack of a character arc, none of the supporting characters are fleshed out in any great detail. Their actions and motivations make no sense when compared with what Grossman has written about them.
And then there’s the Arctic Fox sex scene. At the point the book got bounced off the wall. As well as being ridiculous in every sense, there was something a bit rapey about the whole thing. Bad sex in fiction award at least.
I really don’t want to waste my time writing any more about this book, but Fillory = Narnia, and not even with any subtlety. It’s as close to plagiarism as I’ve seen. There’s also some sort of game all the magic schools play too, but the lengthy description of it was so boring I just decided to call it Quidditch.