"Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed."
So, we're off to a good start. After a map of Fillory, which honestly is useless until you've read the book, and a Shakespeare quote, the book has begun.
"They picked their way along the cold, uneven sidewalk together. James, Julia, and Quentin. James and Julia held hands. That's how things were now. The sidewalk wasn't quite wide enough, so Quentin trailed after them, like a sulky child."
Not bad for exposition. I will admit to feeling sorry for Quentin already.That last sentence may have one too many commas, though.
"You couldn't have everything. Or at least the available evidence pointed overwhelmingly towards that conclusion."
I have read The Magicians before, and right now I'm rereading it. Henceforth, there will be spoilers contained herein- but not in this installment, so keep reading. I'm going to basically be picking the book apart- trying to find symbolism, foreshadowing, grammar mistakes, interesting sentences, etc. No, wait, don't go, it'll be interesting. I promise.
Some dialogue establishes that the characters are going to an interview. For Princeton, apparently. Whew. So these are some smart kids- or at least Quentin is.
And yes, here we are: "The ridiculously brilliant ones.... The nerdiest of the nerds."
And we are given a description of Quentin. What could have been some pretty boring exposition that any sane reader would skip over becomes interesting thanks to Quentin's depression. A bit morbid, perhaps, but I guess that's just Lev Grossman.
"Quentin was thin and tall, though he habitually hunched his shoulders in a vain attempt to brace himself against whatever blow was coming from the heavens, and which would logically hit the tall people first."
Does it have to say he's tall twice? Well, I suppose the first time leads into the second, and it fits with the colloquial style of narration. It's a clever line, anyway.
"It seemed to Quentin like the world was offering up special little tableaux of misery just for him"
This sentence is actually grammatically correct; thanks to Indigo Book for correcting me.
Funny dialogue: Julia suggested James was fat, he sang a song at her, and she "shoved him, still singing, into a garbage can."
That could perhaps be cleared up a bit. She obviously doesn't actually put him inside the trash can, just causes him to knock into it.
James complains about his hair, Quentin makes a foreign-language joke in his head, Julia makes a literary reference, Quentin wonders why he isn't happy when he has a perfectly fine life- better than most people's, honestly, and they wander past "bodegas, laundromats, hipster boutiques, cell-phone stores limned with neon piping..."
Wait a minute. Limned? Merriam-Webster defines it as "to outline in clear sharp detail." Well, you learn a new thing every day.
Anyway, the author spends a page or three trying to define Quentin's misery as he moves his characters through the streets. Eventually, we learn about Fillory.
"Christopher Plover's" - C.S. Lewis's- "Fillory and Further" - The Chronicles of Narnia- "is a series of five" - seven- "novels published in England in the 1930's." 1950's.
So, Narnia then.
"They describe the adventures of the five Chatwin children in a magical land that they discover while on holiday in the countryside with their eccentric aunt and uncle. They aren't really on holiday, of course- their father is up to his hips in mud and blood at Passchendale, and their mother has been hospitalized with a mysterious disease that is probably psychological in nature, which is why they've been hastily packed off to the country for safekeeping."
The author actually went so far as to make up a website that goes into much more detail than the books, and even includes the first chapter of the first Fillory book- read the chapter right now, and then come back and we will continue.
Anyway, the important part in this section is the last few lines: "In Fillory you felt the appropriate emotions when things happened. Happiness was a real, actual, achievable possibility. It came when you called. Or no, it never left you in the first place."
Okay, I'll stop for the moment, maybe a third of the way through the first chapter. I'll try to get the next installment up sometime next week. In the meantime, acquire a copy of this book- buy it from your neighborhood bookstore, order it off Amazon, borrow it form a friend or a library- and read it. That way we can all be on the same page.
And if you haven't (and I know this is unlikely, and may even be insulting), read the Narnia books. Those are the important ones. If you have a lot of free time, maybe Harry Potter too. And yes, I know you've already read them, I'm just dotting the i's and crossing the t's.
See you later!