I think Lev Grossman wrote this book for the adults who have read Harry Potter, Narnia, and other classic fantasies. Magic in those worlds was taken for granted and the question about where it comes from is not considered. The young people who find themselves in the Brakebills School take the training in stride but when they graduate they question what they can use their skills for. One of their instructors named Fogg asks them this question.
"Sometimes I wonder if man was really meant to discover magic," Fogg said expansively. "It doesn't really make sense. It's a little too perfect, don't you think? If there's a single lesson that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so. Words and thoughts don't change anything. Language and reality are kept strictly apart - reality is tough, unyielding stuff, and it doesn't care what you think or feel or say about it. Or it shouldn't. You deal with it, and you get on with your life."
The central character, a mathemathically brilliant young man named Quentin, has always been fascinated by a series of books called Fillory and Further about two brothers and their two sisters who discover a hidden world called Fillory (sound familiar?). Throughout his time in Brakebills he hopes to be able to access Fillory which, he is convinced, is real and where he feels he will find a home. After their graduation Quentin and his friends embark on a vacation to find adventure in Fillory.
The reader will enjoy nods to several fantasy classics. The venture of these young people is difficult and painful at times but the reader is carried on to see if they succeed in finding Fillory and their place in this or any other world.
Fun quote: The thick plottens.
My rating for this book: +++