The Literary Horizon: The Magicians, Leviathan

As you may have surmised, I want to be a book editor. This means I try and keep a very close eye on the publishing industry. As a book lover, this is twice as rewarding, since it gives me a look at what’s coming up for me to devour next. As I ever seek to create more content for my corner of the Internet, I’m going to share my findings. Once a week, on Tuesdays (when most books are released), I will write about two books that have caught my eye–one upcoming, and one recently published.

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman


Okay, so recently is relative in this case, as The Magicians was released in August–the New York Times reviewed it this past week, although I had heard a bit about it over the summer.

From the author’s website: “Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. He’s a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he’s still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless.

Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he thought it would.

Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real.”

The Magicians has plenty of glowing reviews from plenty of publications and an impressive amount of fantasy authors. It’s obviously aimed at the generation of kids who grew up with the Harry Potter series, as we’re now in college, and from the reviews, apparently explores such a realm more realistically. I think that will be interesting, certainly, but I fear it may come across as simply cashing in on our nostalgia. (Side note: Is Harry Potter my generation’s literary Woodstock? And how awesome is that?)

What really interests me about The Magicians is the fact that Fillory is real. I love reading fiction wherein there’s layers of fiction. I’m currently following The Unwritten, a comic book miniseries which focuses on the real world inspiration for a Harry-esque figure who discovers he may be the character himself. A novel caught my eye while I was in England this summer, Mr. Toppit, which deals with much the same idea. I find fantasy metafiction downright delicious.

The Magicians was released on August 11.

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld


Westerfield is the author of the Uglies trilogy, which came out when I was a freshman in high school. It was quite popular with the girls, I recall, and I’d always meant to read it. I have not, but Simon & Schuster recently offered the first novel, Uglies, as a free eBook, so it ought to be around Demora Pasha somewhere.

From the author’s website: “Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.”

I love alternate history, and I’m quite curious about steampunk at the moment, its massive presence at Dragon*Con having whetted my appetite. Leviathan sounds like a fun, inventive adventure. The first chapter is available on Westerfield’s blog. It’s exactly how I remember young adult fiction to be, perhaps erring on the younger side of the spectrum, but the alternative history and steampunk elements are presented well. Prince Alek doesn’t intrigue me as much as Deryn, since I’m fond of period stories where female main characters disguise themselves from boys. (Surprisingly, I hate it when it’s the other way around–I hate the device in a few period stories where a boy is attracted to another, but the boy turns out to be a girl. I’m not sure why.) There’s magnificent illustrations by Keith Thompson, fifty in total in the whole novel.

Also, there’s an wickedly wonderful book trailer for Leviathan, which features Thompson’s amazing illustrations.

Leviathan comes out October 6.

One thought on “The Literary Horizon: The Magicians, Leviathan

  1. Pingback: Review: Leviathan « The Literary Omnivore

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