Published: May 25, 2010
Number of pages: 402
Publisher: A plume book
Genre: dark fantasy, romance, adventure
Audience: older adults
Rating: 2.5 owl hoots out of 5
Quentin Coldwater is a brilliant high school math student and a fan of a children’s fantasy series set in Fillory. Quentin is bored with his life but when he is unexpectedly admitted to a college of magic, his dreams may have come true. But his new powers lead him down in a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment until Quentin discovers the secret to entering Fillory. But even childhood fantasies become darker than Quentin imagined…
After watching the book trailer for The Magician’s Land and reading the positive reviews from authors including George R.R. Martin and Erin Morgenstern, I was really excited about this series. The books are recommended for Harry Potter and Narnia fans so I immediately went on a hunt for the first book.
Warning: this is nothing like Harry Potter and shouldn’t be mistaken as a children’s book. If Harry went on an alcohol binge, had drugs and a lot of sex than he may have turned out like Quentin Coldwater. My first opinion of him is that he’s a really screwed up guy with issues and loathes reality. He hopes that going to a magic college will help him escape from the real world as he learns to be a magician, but I learned that nothing is ever good enough for Quentin. He’s so absorbed with his own rage and misery that he spirals his own life out of control and damages his relationship with Alice. She is the only character I admire who’s calm, clever, soft spoken, and so much braver and powerful than Quentin and her friends.
The college of magic is nothing like I ever imagined. In Brakebills, there’s a lot of mathematical theory and scientific formulas learned when practicing real magic. I’m not a genius like Quentin so I had a hard time grasping the fundamentals and theories of magic that was explained. Although the story also raises some unanswered questions like why and how Quentin was admitted to Brakebills as there’s no clear explanation about that. And what about the old man that Quentin was supposed to meet? His identity is still unknown so I’m curious as to what became of him and how he knew about Quentin.
I jumped into this book waiting to be excited for a new adventure in one of the most fantastical worlds I’ve ever heard. Instead I was a little bored at the outcome of my quest and disappointed at Quentin who manages to be useless in Fillory and fails at jumping into action. Even in one of the most climatic battle scenes, he manages to be the side spectator instead of doing anything to protect his friends. The story is really depressing with a depressing main character and a depressing ending.
Fingers crossed that the trilogy will get better as I continue to read and just maybe, Quentin will learn to be more optimistic next time.