How to Make a Land: The Magic of Literature in Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land

The Spectatorial

Illustration by Ariana Youm Illustration by Ariana Youm

This review contains spoilers.

With The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman has completed one of the most sophisticated fantasy series of recent times. Written carefully and glowing with subtle beauty, The Magicians trilogy depicts the hopes and malaise of a self-conscious, self-critical, and sometimes self-destructive group of young adults trying to find their place in the world.

The trilogy is clearly inspired by Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, and echoes Brideshead Revisited and The Catcher in the Rye. Allusions to Shakespeare and Dungeons and Dragons permeate the novels indiscriminately, and Grossman has even made a helpful starting list of some of the allusions in the first book. In many ways, The Magicians trilogy is a love letter to literature—it is both a paean for fantasy and the wonders of reading as well as a dirge to the loss of childhood dreams…

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