Have you read the Fillory and Further series by Christopher Plover? If not, don’t worry; it’s not real. Fillory and Further is the fictional series that figures into Lev Grossman’s Magician books: The Magicians, The Magician King, and the Magician’s Land. And yes, there’s a television series that started last December.
Fillory and Furtheris a set of books beloved of Quentin Coldwater, the main character of Grossman’s series. On a cold, rainy afternoon in New York City, Quentin stumbles into a different world—Brakebills, a college for magicians.
But wait! You are thinking this is just another series riding the success of Harry Potter? It’s not—at least I would argue not. The series borrows familiar tropes from other fantasies you will know, but Grossman reinvents those elements in interesting and disturbing ways. Yes, it’s a school for wizards—in this case magicians—but the characters in Harry Potter don’t have sex and they don’t do drugs. Grossman’s characters are smart, obsessed, and damaged. The books are dark in a way that most young adult fantasies aren’t, and they will challenge your childhood preconceptions of magic and magical lands.
The Fillory books—a reinvention of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia— are a series of novels by Christopher Plover, based on the real-life experiences of the Chatwin children in Cornwall. Remember, fictional children and a fictional series. The Chatwin children have their lives rearranged and destroyed by their visits to the magical land of Fillory and the man who used their adventures to write a series of bestselling books.
I don’t write reviews on this blog, but I thought to share something of Grossman’s series. I read the books as they were published, but I reread the series again last month. I’m always happier devouring a series all at once. If you are like Quentin Coldwater, and have desperately wanted to find your way into another world, then this series is for you. But it will also make you rethink that longing you’ve had to pass through a portal and find yourself in a magical land.
One final note, and I absolutely can’t help myself here, Harry Potter is not the first series to make use of a school for wizards. The original is Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea and the school for wizards on Roke Island—The Earthsea cycle, another series to check out.