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The Magicians
By Lev Grossman

Discussed July 2016

Buy The Magicians from

Selected Dramatis Personae:

  • Quentin Coldwater – primary protagonist
  • Alice Quinn – friend and lover of Quentin
  • Eliot Waugh – “the gay guy”
  • Josh Hoberman – overweight comic relief
  • Penny – with the Mohawk haircut
  • Martin Chatwin – aka “The Beast”
  • Ember and Umber – the Rams of Fillory
  • Henry Fogg – Dean of Brakebills
  • Prof. Myakovsky – Brakebills South


  1. The Magicians has been called “modern-day fantasy for grown-ups”. What’s your opinion about this?
  2. Many reviewers consider Fantasy to be “escapist literature”. In contrast, some reviewers have almost (but not quite) labeled The Magicians as “anti-escapist”. What’s your opinion about this?
  3. What do you think about the personalities of the leading characters (the students at Brakebills)? Are they realistic? Heroic? Believable?
  4. How would you describe the overall storyline of The Magicians? Does each of the four Parts seem to have its own “theme”?
  5. How does Grossman handle the concept of “magic” in the novel? Does it “make sense” to you? Do you think “magic” could be interpreted as representing other concepts?
  6. Brakebills vs. Hogwarts: what’s the difference?
  7. Why Fillory? How does it affect the lives of Brakebills students, faculty, and graduation? And what about the Chatwins and their relationship to that not-so-imaginary realm?
  8. How well does Grossman handle LGBTQ issues?
  9. If you have seen it, how do you think the SyFy Channel series compares (or contrasts) with the novel?
  10. Based on your reading of The Magicians, do you intend to (or have you already) read its sequels (The Magician King and The Magician’s Land)?
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