I Know J.K. Rowling, and You Are No J.K. Rowling

I should have realized it when, halfway through the book, I put it down and didn’t pick it up again for months.

The Magicians is about a kid who is plucked from his banal existence and sent to a school of magic (sound familiar?). And there’s also an alternate world that only some humans can visit, where fauns, centaurs, and other fantastical creatures are battling over a kingdom that needs four humans to save them by taking over the thrones (sound familiar??).

The story acknowledges the all-too-obvious similarities to the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia series, but not with a wink. It’s more like the author thought, “You know what Hogwarts needs? More swearing! And Narnia would be so much cooler with some centaur sex!”

Really, an adult version of those novels could have been fun. This could have been an entertaining, in-jokey ride for fantasy-story fans. Instead, the characters are so relentlessly angsty, you just want to smack them. Kids, you can fly, shape-shift, and shoot fire out of your fingertips! Quit whining about it!

There’s a sequel being released next month, and the final scene of The Magicians does introduce a character that could make things interesting, but I just have to remind myself how much I can’t stand the mopey main character if I’m ever tempted to pick up book 2.

Also, a note to the author: If you’re going to try and put yourself in the company of two of the most beloved fantasy book series in the history of the English language, you’d better be prepared to BRING IT.

OK, people: Give me some great new fantasy titles to try!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “I Know J.K. Rowling, and You Are No J.K. Rowling

  1. Have you tried the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher? They are about a wizard in Chicago. My husband (who is a huge HP fan) also loves these books. The first one is called Storm Front http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Front-Dresden-Files-Book/dp/B001BCFSL2/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3

    • You know, I’ve got Dresden on my To Be Read list because someone else recced that series to me a long time ago. I don’t think I realized those were set in Chicago, or I would have picked them up sooner! I need to check that series out.

  2. What sort of fantasy do you like? Urban sci fi or LOTR fare?

    Jim Butcher is one I resisted for years for some reason but now he is a huge favorite. George RR Martin is getting a lot of press as well because of his HBO adaptation but I do like his work.

    I actually have a list of books I’ve read because there are so many titles and sequels and the like. I’ll check it and get back to you with some names.

    • These days, I like urban fantasy/sci-fi a lot more. I like me some swords and sorcerors, but there are so few of those books that are unique anymore. Although GoT seems to have found a way to separate from the pack–I love the show, so I’ll have to check out the books soon. Since the new season doesn’t start until next spring, I guess I’ve got time…

  3. Jen

    I don’t think YA authors really need to “bring it” because the kids they are writing for will devour whatever crap comes their way. I know—because I teach middle school kids! There’s definitely a market for “this book is just like _____________ that you loved.”

    I have heard good things about the GoT books, but I’m not a big sci-fi/fantasy person at all. I liked Harry Potter, and the occasional Urban Fantasy/Romance thing that happens. For example, I like the Sookie Stackhouse and Mercy Thompson series, but otherwise, I’m not too much into the genre. Pure fantasy is not my thing at all. If I find any good recs, I will definitely pass them along.

    • What was weird is that this book isn’t YA–the characters are 17-21 from start to finish, but it’s meant to be a book for adults. I think the author was shooting for something that he missed by a long shot.

      I’ve thought about trying the Sookie Stackhouse series, but there are so many books in that series now, I feel like it would take me forever to catch up!

      • The Sookie Stackhouse books are easy reading, and the tv show doesn’t really follow them all that religously, so you won’t be spoiled for the tv show or vice versa. (You do need to read them in order, though.)

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