Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Magicians

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The Magicians

A Novel

by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2009, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2010, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Lev Grossman's Worlds
Lev Grossman was born in 1969, the son of two English professors, and grew up in Lexington, MA, a placid little suburb of Boston. After obtaining a literature degree from Harvard and working towards a PhD in comparative literature at Yale, he gradually turned himself into a journalist and after a few years as a free-lancer, was hired by Time and became the magazine's book critic as well as one of its lead technology writers.

In 1997 Grossman published his first novel, Warp. It concerns the lyrical misadventures of a Boston slacker who has trouble distinguishing between reality and Star Trek.

Codex followed in 2004 and became a bestseller. It is a literary thriller in the tradition of The Name of the Rose, Possession and The Secret History. It's also an unusual love story, as well as a love letter to the mysteries and wonders of the Book, the death of which has been wildly exaggerated.

Lev grew up reading all the fantasy he could find and like other nerds, read and re-read his favorites over and over. For The Magicians, he employed his fantasy background and prodigious imagination to create a entire fantasy series, Fillory and Further. The series has never existed in the real world, is not available in bookstores or libraries, nor is its author Christopher Plover a real person. But the five books in the series and the characters in the books play large roles in The Magicians.

The Fillory and Further series consists of five volumes. Every summer the five Chatwin children enter a magical land called Fillory, which is ruled over by a pair of twin rams, Ember and Umber. In Fillory the Chatwins are treated as kings and queens, and time and again they rescue the creatures who live there from any threats that menace them, including the sinister witch known as the Watcherwoman.

The Five Books of Fillory:
The World in the Walls: Martin and Fiona have to stop the Watcherwoman from stopping time at 5:00 on a rainy September afternoon.
The Girl Who Told Time: Helen and Rupert are magicked into Fillory to help Martin and Fiona battle the Watcherwoman and hunt the mysterious Questing Beast.
The Flying Forest: Rupert and Fiona search for the source of a mysterious ticking sound that is troubling their friend Sir Hotspots, a noble leopard.
The Secret Sea: Set adrift on the Outer Ocean by the Watcherwoman, Rupert and Jane seek help to take them back to Fillory.
The Wandering Dune: Helen and Jane are carried by a sand dune out into the desert, where they discuss morality.

Article by Judy Krueger

This article was originally published in September 2009, and has been updated for the May 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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