Today my choice for a great first line comes from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Mr. Grossman begins his Magician series with a simple little sentence that leads into an increasingly complex story.
Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.
You may be familiar with Mr. Grossman’s work as a book and technology writer for Time Magazine. If you are a newspaper fan The New York Times says he is among “this country’s smartest and most reliable critics.”
The Magicians is his third novel and it starts slowly, but as the story builds I found myself wishing I was reading with a group so I could share some of the amazing lines and his dry sense of humor. After my first read I successfully convinced my sister and mother-in-law to read both book one and book two The Magician King giving me two new people to read aloud too. Mr. Grossman is working on the third book in this series, The Magician’s Land and I can’t wait to step back into the story.
The Magicians was published in 2009 earning favorable reviews around the world. Some critics chose to describe the story as an adult Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia and while I agree that on the surface there are similarities I also think this novel has more to offer. George R. R. Martin’s review sums up my impressions perfectly.
“The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of
weak tea. Solidly rooted in the traditions of both fantasy and mainstream
literary fiction, the novel tips its hat to Oz and Narnia as well to Harry, but
don’t mistake this for a children’s book. Grossman’s sensibilities are
thoroughly adult, his narrative dark and dangerous and full of twists.
Hogwart’s was never like this.”
—George R. R. Martin, bestselling author
of A Game of Thrones
If you still aren’t convinced to pick up the series I have two more reviews to share:
“The novel manages a literary magic trick: it’s both an enchantingly written
fantasy and a moving deconstruction of enchantingly realized
—Los Angeles Times
“This gripping novel draws on the conventions of contemporary and classic
fantasy novels in order to upend them, and tell a darkly cunning story about the
power of imagination itself. [The Magicians is] an unexpectedly moving
—The New Yorker
I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with these characters and am happy to report I think the second book is even better than the first. If you have read The Magicians or The Magician King please share your comments below!