Thursday, June 4, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Books That Hooked Me (Part 9)


Okay, confession time. You know there have been things in these blogposts where I've confessed that there have been films, TV series and the like that I dismissed completely - only to actually check them out for myself and discover that they are fantastic. Well, Lev Grossman's The Magicians trilogy is one of those.

I remember the first one coming into the shop about the time I left the bookshop. The cover was trying to jump on that Dan Brown vibe that was big at the time, following on from Lev Grossman's previous book, Codex. The covers kinda matched - you know, keeping the theme for the author just like Dan Brown, and then I read the back of the book and the blurb made it sound like Harry Potter meets Dan Brown. And foolishly, I discounted it. Didn't give it another thought.

What a doofus.

Debs, being the massive Harry Potter fan, and fan of all fantasy novels, read the trilogy (she was still working in the bookstore) and really enjoyed them.

Then, along comes the trailer for SyFy Channel's new TV series The Magicians - based on the trilogy of books. The trailer looked brilliant, and Debs said to me "You should read the books, they're really good!!" and after the second season aired in the UK (at some stupid hour in the morning because UK TV has no faith in good genre TV) I finally did.

I honestly don't know why I didn't read it the moment it came in. I absolutely love them. The added advantage is that the novels kinda start the same with Quentin Coldwater going to Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy, meets Penny, Alice, Eliot and Margo/Janet, and learns about magic and the costs it brings. But, about a quarter of the way through it goes off in a different direction. Sure, there's Fillory, the Narnia that Quentin used to read about like an obsessive Potter fan, and The Beast, but it's very, very different in places.

There are huge sections that made it feel almost like you're reading a really cool Dungeons and Dragons game (especially the end of the first book).

Man, just thinking about it makes me want to reread it.

Maybe that's another one of its strengths. While I know the TV series really well, and love it, the books are different enough to make me want to reread them multiple times to experience a different timeline. (Something the TV series cleverly addressed, making it feel like the events of the books could be just another timeline up to a point).


Since the trilogy, and the TV series, there's been a graphic novel retelling the first book from Alice's point of view rather than Quentin's, and there's been a cool comic series of a new class going to Brakebills - a class of Hedges.

If anything, I actually think that The Magicians has even more potential as a tabletop RPG than Harry Potter. Certainly more possible. Especially when you think you have the "magical college" side of it, along with the non-academic magic users, and then there's the whole of Fillory - a whole magical world to game in...

Maybe one day...

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