Monday, January 25, 2016

A Sneak Peek at The Magicians

Yoga started again this morning, so I got a good stretchy start to the week and forced myself out of bed. Now to see if I can carry that energy through the rest of the day and the week. I made a huge pot roast yesterday, so I won't be having to do much cooking the rest of the week, other than maybe coming up with other things to do with leftover roast. I'm thinking Friday night's dinner will be beef pot pie.

Over the weekend, I found that the first episode of The Magicians, which starts with the first two parts tonight, was available on demand, so I gave it a shot.

I wasn't crazy about the book. I liked the idea of it because I wanted more contemporary fantasy that was about wizards and magic rather than vampires and werewolves, but the book itself struck me as cynical and derivative. It seemed to me more a case of "fantasy" about fantasy fans rather than a book written for fans of fantasy. It seemed to be trying too hard to be "edgy" in the sense of "Harry Potter, but with drinking, sex, smoking, and drugs!" and that made me dislike the characters. I never bothered reading beyond the first book, especially because the way the characters were at the end of the first book made me really intensely dislike them. It seemed to me that the fantasy tropes were all obviously taken directly from well-known works, and in some cases from a superficial understanding of those works.

However, I kind of liked the first episode of the series, though there's still a chance that I'll turn against it (since I was still okay with the book that far into it). In a nutshell, the series (the book is slightly different) is about a young man who's getting ready for graduate school but who is still obsessed with a series of fantasy novels (basically Not!Narnia) that provide his escape when the real world is too intense. He goes to a grad school interview in Brooklyn and finds himself at a school in upstate New York, where he's being tested on magical aptitude. He gets into the school for magical training, but he starts having strange visions of that fantasy world from his favorite books, with one of the characters giving him cryptic warnings. Meanwhile, his best friend also ended up at the aptitude test, but she failed and was sent home, supposedly with her memory wiped. But she does remember and becomes obsessed with the idea of magic and wanting to learn to use it.

They seem to be aging it up from college to grad school in the series, and on the one hand that's good because it avoids making it a teen thing (see the Shannara series) and it makes some of the goings on at school a little less sketchy if these are all 20-something adults. On the other hand, a guy in his early 20s who gets annoyed that his friends aren't as into the series of kids' books they were obsessed with in their teens does sound a little weird. Mostly, I like the imagery in the series. I like the world they've created, and I think they've done a good job of making it its own distinct place rather than Not!Hogwarts and Not!Narnia. I could never get the originals out of my head while reading the book, but the series creates its own world. I still feel like they're trying way too hard to be edgy, but that's just my personal taste.

Bottom line: I'll check out the next part and then see if I want to keep up with it.

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