If Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia had a punk rock baby, it would be Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. The Magicians is older, darker and sexier than your typical boy-wizard coming of age story. We take a look at book 1 of Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy before the television series premieres on the Syfy Network, Monday, January 25th.
Quentin Coldwater is a floppy haired, sad-eyed high school student who is in love with Julia, his best friend James’s girlfriend. Quentin comes from a good family and he’s well on his way to enter an Ivy League college after graduation, but he’s by no means happy. He wishes there was real magic in the world, like the kind in his favorite Narnia-esque series “Fillory & Beyond”. On his way to his Princeton interview, Quentin accidentally sits in on the entrance exam for Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy instead. Much to his surprise Quentin is accepted to Brakebills, the only magical university in North America. Magic is real and the magical world has invited Quentin to join.
But college, magical or not, is hard work and Quentin is not a fan of hard work. Learning magic is slow and tedious and well, just plain boring. Going to Brakebills instead of Princeton means Quentin had to leave his best friends James and Julia and his family behind. There is no room for the outside world at Brakebills. Adjusting to magical college life is difficult for all the first year students, but Quentin has a particularly hard time. He’s less Harry Potter and more Simon Snow – the worst Chosen One ever. Finding real magic was Quentin’s greatest wish come true, but not that he’s got magic, it’s not enough. Quentin is bored and restless and wants things to more like the enchanted world in the “Fillory & Beyond” stories for real. Quentin, along with his classmates Alice, Josh, Janet and Penny start to look for something more magical than magic but what they find is dark, twisted and ugly.
The Magicians is a dense novel full of colorful, interesting characters which makes it a perfect choice for a book to TV adaptation. In the right hands the young, sexy, magically endowed cast will make for fantastic television watching. Syfy has nailed the casting. Jason Ralph is exactly how I envisioned Quentin Coldwater when I read the books and Hale Appleman make a fine (maybe too fine) Eliot. It seems Syfy has also captured the look of the sprawling Brakebills campus, giving it the feel of a stately old college hidden somewhere on the Eastern seaboard. The writers and executive producers, Sera Gamble and John McNamara, are self-proclaimed fantasy nerds and fans of Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy. Grossman himself is very involved in the project, which is always a good sign. If the first episode has even half the heat of the official Magicians trailer, Syfy just might have a hit on their hands.
We’ll be watching and live tweeting during the premiere on January 25th, 9 pm EST. There will be cocktails worthy of Eliot, so drink along with us using the hashtag #YAWDrinking.