The Magicians Strays from Books, But is Worth It

“Magic in this world only happens if you mean it.”

It’s not quite news anymore, but just last month SyFy launched “The Magicians”, a TV adaptation of one of my FAVORITE book series of all time, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians Trilogy.

The Magicians takes a very interesting perspective on magic—more specifically, a world where magic is as real as reality. I’ve often sold it to those interested as a (sardonic?) blend of Harry Potter and Narnia, with just a pinch of The Magicians Pic 1alcoholism. It’s of course vastly more, and breaks a few rules only to re-write them in subtler and infinitely more interesting ways. What does the world become, once you can shape it however you’d like? And who else is out there, shaping?

In Quentin’s world, magic is something rare and powerful and comes from a dark and deep place that only the most in-tune can access. Lines become blurred; you end up questioning how deep magic goes. Is it the brutal rote memorization and exhausting effort of spell-casting that the kids are becoming familiar with? Or is it deeper and stranger than that?The Magicians Pic 3

So far the show is a bright and fresh three episodes in, and new ones are set to roll out at 7 on Mondays. As with all conversions of text to theater, there have been revisions and it has already strayed wildly from the first book. Most noticeably, our cast is a little older, entering graduate school rather than college.

The show appears to be burning through the first two books in parallel, highlighting Julia as Quentin’s delightful contrast. They’re lifelong friends who both happen to take the same entry exam. It’s no normal exam, however, as the pages shift beneath their pens and the questions ask of them things that no question has any right to reasonably ask. The Magicians Pic 2

While Quentin excels at his new studies and quickly leaves the idiosyncrasies of normalcy behind, our luckless heroine (who we don’t really get to know until the second book) is quickly shown to be resorting to any means necessary to achieve the heights Quentin so easily scaled. If you had a taste of magic, real magic, could you go back?

The Author himself put together a handy guide for those who’ve read the book and want to sink their teeth into the new format. Despite being a die-hard supporter of the written format, I’m eager to enjoy the unique perspective a new medium offers this fantastic story. Fans so far have been fairly split down the middle, but unanimously excited to see this story unfold.

Grossman himself is working closely with the cast and crew and has had this to say on the matter:

“I’m a huge fan of the show. I get psyched every time they send me a new episode to watch. It’s dark, it’s smart, it’s weird, and it’s very funny. It’s cool to see the magic on screen. The actors are acting their hearts out.”

I have high hopes for the show. The first three episodes are available on Syfy, so go check it out and be prepared for a thrilling season!

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