It seems there is a new improved magical school in town. The TV adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians Trilogy, first aired on the SyFy channel Dec. 16, 2015, and ran for 13 episodes with the finale airing in April 2016.
Fans of the fantasy trilogy found themselves face to face with characters familiar and some unfamiliar on the show named for the trilogy’s first book, The Magicians. The storyline of both the show and the novels follow Quentin Coldwater, a gifted genius misfit just trying to find his place in the world by preparing for life after high school. Unlike his friends, who make plans to attend some of the best schools for academically gifted students, Quentin holds on to his childhood memories of the world he escaped to in his daydreams as a child.
He tries desperately to follow the example of his peers and apply to universities. However, on his way home from a failed interview for Princeton, Quentin finds his eyes opened to a whole new world that his deepest of hearts has always longed to exist in. He finds himself passing an examination for entrance into Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. He meets several new friends and makes time studying spells and partying a bit more than he should. Just as soon as the fantasy begins, the newness and glamour seems to fade and he fails to realize he is just running from his problems. Having our dreams come true doesn’t always mean your problems are solved, but being a magician should mean that anything is possible, right?
SyFy’s TV adaptation caused some uproar with fans due to changes from the novel’s storyline to what made it into the series. After a few episodes many agreed the show’s writing more than made up for it by adding several great supporting characters or further developing a number of fan favorites. Staying true to the story is not so much an issue with this production and writers make no apologies. They melded elements from The Magicians (book one) and The Magician King (book two) into season one of the show and layered it with a great deal more than was in the books, while keeping several scandalous plot twists and adding a few of their own. Writers were polite enough to explain the difference in one of the shows later episodes and this seems to have satisfied viewers for the time being.
With Season 2’s release being scheduled for January 2017, many viewers have taken to reading the trilogy and find both versions just as enjoyable. Lev Grossman used the trilogy to address several issues that millennials relate to, which explains his ever growing fan base. Giving Harry Potter a run for his money, Quentin Coldwater seems to be a more relatable character because of the realistic traits of his personality and his surroundings. Even though he finds himself at a school learning magic, he is still faced with growing up in an existentially themed society and struggles to figure out who he is and what meaning there is in the life he leads. These problems seem to follow him regardless of where he is and who he meets. The longer he puts off dealing with these issues, the darker they cloud his life.
The show makes an effort to produce characters for everyone to relate to without going overboard and has something for everyone. A college for magicians seems a bit far fetched, but Grossman writes about magic in terms of science. If you ever wondered what college after Hogwarts was like or if Harry Potter wasn’t adult enough for you, then just like Quentin, Brakebills may very well be what you’ve been looking for.