Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lev Grossman's "The Magician's" mini-review

Just finished Lev Grossman's absorbing new novel The Magicians. I don't want to be too revealing about the storyline, but I found the story to be an homage to a number of well-known fantasy stories: the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter series are the most obvious. But I detect some LOTR motifs and a few from the Arthurian legends. Quests abound, but this is not a kid's story; it's rather adult (yes I've read the HP books and know how dark they get as they progress). But dark is different from adult content.

The characters are young adults with all the issues that the age group experiences, but add some very intense magic, angst about love and sex, battling an odd assortment of creatures, and a really big theme of loss -- I found it an intense read. Not a light story but rather melancholy throughout, with a protagonist who is sometimes very hard to relate to or like. I need to re-read it again at a later date, but at the moment I'm not convinced by the ending, which seemed both too pat and improbable given the previous set of events in the story.

For readers who enjoy contemporary mythological fiction, particularly the works of Charles deLint, the story will resonate. deLint has written a number of works centering on managing tremendous loss, set in a mythologically-active, magical landscape. But I wonder if people will be distracted by the obvious HP and Narnia motifs in The Magicians. Read it and ping me about your observations.

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