I'm rereading the Magicians books, and this evening Orion happened to pick up The Magicians
after watching me haphazardly rereading the series for the last few days ... and is now halfway through it and can't seem to put it down. I really wasn't sure if these books would be his kind of thing; he's really more of a sci-fi guy. He did like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings though.
These are definitely my favorite book discovery of the past year, and even though they are by no means without flaws (and in fact there are a few parts of the first and second books I'm skipping on the reread) overall they are just so
delightful. I'm picking up a ton of foreshadowing this time around I didn't notice when I was reading them for the first time. I also love Q so much more after spending three books with him, something I noticed in particular at the start of the second book, which is significantly more cheerful and funny and just generally fun
than the first book. Originally, of course, I had just come off of book 1 and Q in book 1 is definitely ... something, so it took me a while to warm up to his somewhat less depressed, self-centered, and hard-to-handle self in the second book, but after three books of character development, my reaction to him now in book 2 is mostly "BAAAABY" with occasional interludes of "Q, stoppit."
I think one thing I'm really noticing on the reread is how well these books capture the overall feeling of growing up and realizing that your flawless childhood favorite books are actually flawed as hell, rejecting them out of a combination of disillusionment and early-20s Wokeness, and finally reaching a point of "fuckit" where you re-learn how to love the best parts of the things you used to love with a clearer-eyed awareness of their flaws.
Except dialed up to 11, because epic fantasy.
But in general, the books do a lot of things well. I really like what they have to say about creativity, and about the interplay between losing yourself in fantasy and forgetting how to appreciate the real world, vs. losing your childhood dreams and only thinking of reality without aspiration. I like how they handle depression and the way that it can rob you of the better parts of yourself. (Being able to see flashes in the first book of who Q is later on, after getting to know what he's like when he's not utterly miserable and mired in self-hatred, is really something.) The worldbuilding is goofy and neat, obviously derivative in some ways but also very interestingly its own thing. These books make me feel again what it was like to be a little kid and find (I kid you not, this is actually where I found it) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
in a random box of books under my parents' bed with no idea of what it was - that sort of magical, serendipitous discovery of beloved books and the way they make you feel when they're fresh and new. Except with a more grown-up worldview that clicks nicely into my more cynical and jaded 40s-aged brain. I remember scoffing at the whole idea of these books being Harry Potter for grownups, which is essentially what they were billed as, but that is actually exactly what they feel like, not because they're mocking or sneering at it (even if the first book does occasionally go there, at times) but because they really get at the same feeling except, well. Grown up.
I just really like them.
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