A third morose male to complete the set

download“Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.”
The Magicians by Lev Grossman

So this is coincidence, I swear, but I’m realizing now that there’s a certain similarity between the protagonists of the books I’ve recommended this month. All three characters (Hildy, Paul, and Quentin) are depressive, compelling, and (at least initially) male. Obviously I love them all, but I think Quentin Coldwater—brilliant, mopey, teenage hero of The Magicians—takes the cake.

Quentin’s one of those maddening characters who seems to be kind of incapable of being happy, even for short intervals, even when all his dreams are suddenly coming true. He spends his entire youth hoping and praying to find a world outside, beyond, this one, but (no spoilers, I promise) when he does, he still spends a lot of his time sulking because it isn’t exactly the way he imagined it would be.

I realize this sounds pretty annoying, and it kind of is, but for some reason, it’s impossible not to love him (and the book) anyway. Because, yes, Quentin may be whiny and obnoxious, but he’s also an incredibly believable teenager living in an utterly fascinating fantasy world that’s only a beat or two off from our own. We all remember what it was like to be him. And we all love watching him grow up, slowly, painfully, and with exactly as much grace as could be expected.

(Also, for the full experience, pick up the rest of the trilogy: The Magician King and, once it comes out in August, The Magician’s Land. I’m almost finished with the latter, and I can tell you this: They. Just. Get. Better. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m writing this instead of reading the last 60 pages.)

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