The New York Times bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians, the prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician's Land, is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren't black and white, and power comes at a terrible price.
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Did you know that you can look up any word in this text simply by highlighting it and then clicking on the "define" feature? Try it now with a word on this page that you do not know.
Which of the following correctly describes the setting of this opening section of the novel?
Christopher Plover is a fictional author of the Fillory series who Grossman created as the inspiration for his novels. However, throughout the text and in the marketing for The Magicians, Plover is referred to as a real author. Keep this in mind as you continue to read. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you have read so far, which type of interview is Quentin probably about to experience?
Here, the paramedic is compared to a "stewardess on the connecting flight to hell." Watch the video below to learn more about figurative language, especially metaphors and similes. (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted phrase is an example of which type of figurative language?
When a non-human object is given human traits, it is considered an example of personification. For example, in these highlighted sentences, the weeds are described as "strangling their frailer, more exotic competitors." This video show you a few other examples of personification! (This annotation contains a video)
Using the evidence that you have encountered so far in this text, make an inference or a prediction about where Quentin is and what he is doing there. What just happened?
Topiary sculptures are designs or objects cut out of bushes or hedges. They are extremely expensive to maintain and require constant shaping and trimming. Consider how these small details create the setting of this new place that Quentin has found himself in. (This annotation contains an image)
This highlighted sentence best supports which of the following inferences about Quentin?
Are you imagining that the testing environment that Quentin is currently in might look something like this? If you have been making connections to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, you are making strong connections. Keep considering the similarities! (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Quentin surprised that the woman who is conducting his interview can perform magic tricks better than any professional he has ever seen?
When an author refers to a piece of literature, art, or history, it is called an allusion. Here, the author compares the stars to those of the famous painter, Vincent van Gogh. How does this allusion add meaning to the author's description? (This annotation contains an image)
The events on this page illustrate an important character transformation. How is Quentin changing at this moment?
Authors often use the setting of a text to create a mood for the reader. Here, the author uses silence and the presence of a crow to create a mysterious and eerie mood. Watch this video to learn more about mood in literature. (This annotation contains a video)
Dean Fogg is asking Quentin if he would like to ____________.
This highlighted sentence is written in a very sarcastic tone. The video that you just watched differentiated between tone and mood. Remind yourself now: what is the difference between the two?
Based on what is revealed about Quentin's mental state, which of the following transitions correctly articulates how the protagonist has changed since arriving at Brakebills?
What is the meaning of the word "ennui"? How does it inform the characterization of Eliot? Think about the ways in which Eliot's character is clearly different from Quentin's.
In this highlighted sentence, the author uses a _________ in order to compare the movement of the magical topiary to that of hippopotami wallowing in a river.
Though Brakebills is a fictional place, it even has a website. This continues Grossman's trend of making fictional things appear realistic. (This annotation contains an image)
Both of these competitions attract some of the most intelligent students from around the world. Imagine having to be in class with them!
The use of the term "gallows" implies that Alice is
Estonia is a tiny country next to Latvia in Northeastern Europe. As a country, it is known to have many myths and legends rooted in magic. (This annotation contains an image)
In order to illustrate Quetin's frustration with the study of magic, the author compares his study of spells to
Based on her description, it seems that Alice might suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. Read the following link and determine two similarities between common triggers or symptoms of this disorder and Alice's actions. (This annotation contains a link)
Think about Brakebills' philosophy of allowing students to work at their own pace. What is your opinion about this style of education? Should students be allowed to move at their own pace or asked to be part of a class?
Notice that Grossman is using a more complex metaphor here. He describes the treatment of Alice, Penny, and Quentin at the hands of the older students in a way that makes the reader think they both pitied these young students and patronized them.
Based on this interaction, which of the following relationship types best describes what Quentin is observing between Eric and Eliot?
Grossman is not the first author to create a fictional book-within-a-book. George Orwell, the famous dystopian novelist who wrote 1984, also inserted a fictional text into his novel. Read more about his book at the link below. As you read, consider why authors use this technique to make a commentary on the story they are telling. (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following best describes Alice's tone in this highlighted sentence?
Is Penny's failure surprising? Or did you predict it? If so, why?
A reference to another work of literature, in this case Edgar Allen Poe's short story, is called a(n)
All of a sudden, when he least expects it, Quentin is transported back to Brakebills. What made this transition finally happen?
Using the 'Define' feature, look up the definition for the word 'conspiratorial.' Which of the following words is the best synonym for this word?
Wow! Did you see that coming? Were there any clues as to why Penny might be angry with Quentin?
The highlighted text contains an example of figurative language. Which of the following correctly identifies it and explains its function?
"In fighting trim" is an idiom or expression that means "in perfect shape" and refers to a person's physical condition.
In your own words, explain why Penny is angry at Quentin.
Watch the video below on hyperbole. Then decide for yourself - is Quentin's highlighted statement hyperbolic or honest? Why? (This annotation contains a video)
How many years in total do students spend at Brakebills?
Have you been making connections to moments or events in Harry Potter? Consider how these two texts are similar and different. Specifically, how do they differ in the ways that they 'sort' students? (This annotation contains a video)
It is important to pay close attention to the timeline of Grossman's writing. He often jumps quickly ahead in time simply by starting a new paragraph.
Based on the highlighted line, what is Quentin's attitude about lacking an affiliation with a Discipline?
He might have looked a bit like this man, an IBM engineer from the 1950s. (This annotation contains an image)
What is significant about the Physical Kids?
A hermit is an older man who retreats into solitude in order to ponder many important questions and philosophical ideas. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best summarizes the last two pages of this chapter?
Pay close attention to how the author develops certain characters, like he does with Janet's character here. Watch this video to learn more about characterization in the text. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the context of this sentence, the word "spry" can be considered a synonym for which of the following words?
Notice how Grossman uses structure here, specifically sentence length, to build suspense. Why do short sentences make the reader feel an increasing sense of tension?
In your own words, explain the phenomenon that has just occurred over the course of the last few pages? What is happening?
With this one line, Grossman intensifies the tension in the text by utilizing a flash forward. Learn more about the role that tension plays in a text by watching this video. (This annotation contains a video)
Why are Amanda's parents collecting her belongings?
Welters is the most popular sport at Brakebills. What do you think the game entails? Use your imagination!
In the highlighted sentence, which literary device is present and what is its effect?
Have you read Harry Potter? Do you notice similarities in themes, characters, and central ideas between Harry Potter and The Magicians? Learn more about how the novels are similar by reading this article below. Pay attention the thesis of the article - the next question will ask you about it! (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following quotes represents the thesis of The Guardian article that you just read?
Here, Grossman even includes a direct Harry Potter reference!
The highlighted sentences in this section support which of the following conclusions about Quentin's character?
It's important to note that this highlighted sentence shows the reader that Quentin feels a large amount of guilt for his actions on that day.
No one knows what happens to the Fourth Years when they vanish. Before the Physical Kids start speculating on the next page, make your own guesses. What do you think happens to the Fourth Years when they disappear?
You will begin to notice that the idea of the Beast becomes more and more symbolic as the text goes on. Watch this video to learn more about symbolism and how authors use it. (This annotation contains a video)
Have you ever wondered why geese always fly in a V? Find out in the link below! (This annotation contains a link)
Which area of the world are they currently flying in?
Marie Byrd Land is the real name of a specific segment of the continent of Antarctica. See the map below to become familiar with the geography of this icy place. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following inferences best explains why "the hash browns no longer tasted quite so scrumptious"?
The reference to Nurse Ratched is an allusion to the main antagonist in the famous novel (and subsequent film) "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Watch this video to learn more about the role of allusions in a text. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the highlighted sentence, the reader can infer that Alice
Here, Grossman adds humor by including a reference to a cult classic film from the 1980s, The Karate Kid. Watch a clip with this line from the movie below! (This annotation contains a video)
In this sentence, Grossman uses a _______________ in order to compare _______________.
Grossman continues to elucidate one of the important conflicts in the text: Quentin's confusion about his feelings for Alice. Watch the video below to learn more about the common types of conflict. What type of conflict would Quentin's young love fall under? (This annotation contains a video)
This final exam sounds a lot like a popular show, Man vs. Wild. Have you ever seen this show? Would you be able to pass this test and survive? (This annotation contains a video)
Think back to all of the information that you have gathered so far about Quentin's character and personality. Based on this evidence, do you think that he will be successful in his quest to reach the South Pole? Why or why not? Cite specific examples from the text to prove your claim.
Ernest Shackelton, a famous explorer from the early 20th century, was one of the first people to journey to the South Pole. Shackelton wrote poems on his many excursions south. Read one of his poems in the link below. As you read, consider the similarities between Grossman's story and Shackelton's poetry. (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following accurately articulates the similarities or differences between Grossman's story and Shackelton's poem?
Remember, Grossman uses the Fillory novels to highlight and illuminate important ideas and themes in his own text. Pay close attention to the books that Quentin is reading - how do they connect to his own story?
In this sentence, Grossman repeats the same sound at the start of multiple words, which is an example of ____________.
Think back to the Julia that we met at the start of the novel. How has she changed? How is she similar? What or who is responsible for this change?
Can you interpret the meaning of a phrase, even when it is in Russian? In these highlighted sentences, the Russian phrase 'chyort vozmi' most likely is
Sepia toning is a special photographic treatment used to give photographs a brownish tint. This toning technique was commonly used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but has recently experienced a resurgence with the popularity of Instagram. (This annotation contains an image)
Compare and contrast Quentin's relationship with Alice with his 'relationship' with Julia. How are they similar? How are they different?
Which of the following correctly describes the connection between the chapter titles and the structure of the chapters in this novel?
Remember, strong readers look up words that they do not know. This sentence has quite a few large vocabulary words. Do you need to look up any of them?
In your own words, describe the sequence of events that led to Mayakovsky's banishment to Brakebills South.
What other things are still mysterious or hidden from Quentin? What does he still not know? Do we, as readers, know things that the characters do not? This technique is called dramatic irony, and is often used in texts and plays to build suspense. Learn more about dramatic irony by watching the video below! (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the context of the highlighted sentence, which of the following is the best antonym for the word "esteem"?
The meaning of the term Anglophilia can be easily derived from its root words: 'Angli,' which means 'the English' and 'philos,' which means 'friend.' When combined, the definition of the word is revealed. An Anglophile is someone who admires England, its people, and its culture.
Use the highlighted sentence to draw a conclusion about the personalities of Quentin's parents. What are they like? Why did you make that inference? Explain.
Take a look at the recipes in the link below. Was the dinner served at Alice's historically accurate? What did the Romans commonly eat? (This annotation contains a link)
In this highlighted sentence, Grossman references one of Aesop's Fables, in which a boy cries 'wolf' so often that the villagers never believe his warnings. Then, when a real wolf endangers the town, no one will listen to his warning cries because he has lied so many times. When an author makes a reference to a work of literature, art, or history, it is called a(n) __________.
Quentin says that the time spent with Alice's parents helped him better understand who she is because he could see how they influenced her. The famous nature vs. nurture debate centers around whether or not a person's genes or environment have a stronger impact on how they turn out. Read this article and decide for yourself: what determines who we become? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following things have NOT contributed to Quentin's feelings of dissatisfaction and fatigue regarding Brakebills?
Here is an image of Cape Cod from above. Is Grossman's claw metaphor an accurate description of its shape? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following correctly identifies the allusion present in this highlighted paragraph?
What does Fogg mean by this highlighted statement? What important life lesson is he attempting to convey to his soon-to-be graduates.
Take note of how this paragraph shifts in structure and flashes back in time to fill in the gaps in the story. You can learn more about how authors utilize and manipulate the structure of a text by watching this video below. (This annotation contains a video)
In your own words, describe why Grossman starts a new book (Book II) at this part of the story. What important change happened recently that might necessitate a new section or book.
A cloister is an open space in a monastery, surrounded by walls, that is meant to separate the monks from the secular life outside. Here, Grossman uses the word as a verb to contrast the reclusive nature of Quentin's time at Brakebills with his newfound freedom. (This annotation contains an image)
Eliot's reference to Alice with the phrase "Bye Mom!" indicates that he
Leda and the Swan is a famous poem by W.B. Yeats, inspired by a story from Greek mythology. In this tale, Zeus, disguised as a swan, seduces (or rapes) Leda, the daughter of a king. As you read the poem, think about why Quentin and his friends are jokingly celebrating this event. What does it show the reader about their character? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following descriptions accurately describes the discussion that the party-goers are currently having?
Here, Grossman gives us an important peak inside Quentin's head. Think about how these thoughts influence the reader's impression of the protagonist. Do they make him more or less likable as a character? Why?
In the non-magical world, a "ward" is
Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau's retreat in the woods outside of Boston, has inspired decades of writers and artists to find their own respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Thoreau wrote, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." (This annotation contains an image)
What role has Lovelady played in the text so far? How is his character significant?
Grossman utilizes many popular fantasy tropes in his novel. Earlier, you considered the similarities between this text and the Harry Potter series. This section of the novel contains many similarities and allusions to C.S. Lewis' famous fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Watch this trailer for the Narnia movie and consider how the two might be similar. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following accurately describes the connections between this text and C.S. Lewis's Narnia books?
A strong reader always makes inferences as she reads. Consider this highlighted sentence: is Alice commenting on more than just Quentin's skepticism here? To what else might she be referring?
The ___________ in the highlighted sentence communicates _______________.
Here is a photo of a Maori man with a "moko," the traditional tribal face tattoo. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you have read about the Netherlands so far, which of the following statements applies?
Quentin's thoughts about Janet here are very ironic, considering what the two of them were doing only a few hours ago. Watch this video on irony to learn more about what it is and how authors use it. (This annotation contains a video)
This paragraph contains an allusion to
The damsel in distress is a common trope in literature, especially in fantasy. Below is a famous 19th century painting by Frank Dicksee, entitled Chivalry, that depicts a maiden in need of rescue. (This annotation contains an image)
How do Quentin and his friends plan their adventures and collect information about the new world they are going to try to enter?
Dungeons & Dragons is a famous role-playing game in which participants cast spells and undertake adventures with their characters. This game has spawned video games, books, and massive gaming tournaments. (This annotation contains an image)
In the highlighted sentence, the word "propagated" most nearly means
As you get ready to join the characters on their Fillory adventure, this link has an extensive map of Fillory to help orient you to the important parts of the region. The same map is on one of the first pages of this novel, as well. (This annotation contains a link)
Quentin seems extremely negatively preoccupied by the thought of Alice and Penny together. Is he justified in his anger and frustration? Why or why not?
Janet's exaggerations, such as "puke my guts out," are examples of hyperbole, a type of figurative language that you learned about earlier. This fake news clip below illustrates just how ridiculous hyperboles can sound. Can you spot some of the newscaster's exaggerations? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following aspects of life in Fillory is different from the normal world?
Earlier, when Quentin and his friends were discussing the important aspects of the Fillory novels, they mentioned that the kingdom is ruled by a pair of twin rams, Ember and Umber. Keep this fact in mind as you continue to read.
Use the 'Define' feature to determine the definition of the word "twig." Though two definitions are given, only one fits in this sentence. Which of the following explanations best matches the meaning of this word as it is used in context?
Quentin and Penny seem to argue and fight throughout the text. Often, in a novel, the main character (protagonist) gets into altercations with the antagonist. Is Penny the antagonist to Quentin's protagonist? Watch this video to find out more about these character types. (This annotation contains a video)
Grossman uses figurative language frequently in his writing. On this page alone, there are multiple examples of similes and metaphors. Choose one example, quote it below, and explain why Grossman uses it.
Here, Grossman makes yet another allusion to a great fantasy writer, J.R.R Tolkien. In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Ents are tree-like beings who protect Middle Earth. Yet again, Grossman borrows from fantasy writers who have come before him. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted sentence implies that businesses in Fillory
Here, Grossman is using the scientific classification for these insects. These trinomial names (which refer to specific subspecies of animals) give the text a tone of academic formality.
The image below is a painting by Marc Chagall. A famous European modernist, Chagall is known for his participating in the Surrealist movement of the early 20th century. Compare and contrast Grossman's depiction of Fillory with this image and be prepared to answer a question about it in the next few pages. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following statements best describes the similarities or differences between Chagall's painting and the depiction of Fillory?
The Chatwins are the family of primary characters from the original Fillory series.
In your own words, describe the significance of King Martin's crown. Why does the group feel motivated to go out in search of it?
In this highlighted sentence, Grossman uses a complex simile to describe Quentin's feelings of insecurity and naiveté. Quentin compares himself to a young and inexperienced soldier, recently arrived on the front lines of the Vietnam War. Fen, he observes, is battle-hardened and wise, knowing much more about Fillory than Quentin ever will.
Make a prediction about these two creatures. Why are the hare and the ferret running towards the group?
A strong reader always pays attention to the timeline of the story. Though this flashback only lasts for a half of a sentence, it provides important information about Quentin's character and how he has changed since the start of the story.
Which of the following themes is developed during this altercation?
A satyr is a creature who is a half-man, half goat. They were popular characters in Greek and Roman mythology and hold important roles in C.S. Lewis' Narnia series. (This annotation contains an image)
The last line of this paragraph highlights the _____________ mood of the text at this moment.
The three highlighted sentences of dialogue illustrate which dichotomy between Alice and Quentin?
The decisions that the group has to make here - which fork to take - bears a resemblance to Robert Frost's famous poem. Have you read The Road Not Taken? What similarities does it share with this part of the text? (This annotation contains a link)
In the context of this portion of the sentence, which of the following is NOT an antonym for the word "dignified"?
Take a close look at the length of the sentences in this section of the dialogue. Notice how they are short and choppy, rarely more than four or five words. What effect does this have on the mood of the text?
This is the second time that the phrase, "glory has its price," has made an appearance in this text. What does it mean? How might this be developing as a theme in the text?
In the tradition of Zodiac symbolism, the ram represents aggression, courage, and leadership. Rams are extremely symbolic in this text and carry important meaning. Keep track of this symbol as the text continues.
Which of the following sets of adjectives best describe the tone of the ram's speech?
Ember originally stated that the Children of Earth were meant to turn the tide of evil in Fillory. At this moment, in the highlighted paragraph, does he still believe in that statement?
Remember back to the last time that the Beast appeared in the text. Where were the characters? What occurred as a result of his presence?
Though Penny may have originally appeared to be the primary antagonist in this novel, it is now clear that the true antagonist is
The Looney Tunes cartoon ending is famous for its tagline: "That's all folks!" (This annotation contains an image)
Make a prediction as you continue to read. Who is going to win this battle? Can Alice withstand Martin's power?
A centaur, like a satyr, is half-man, half-beast. Instead of a goat, however, the bottom half of this creature are the legs of a horse. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Alice gone?
Jane is the sister of Martin, who Alice killed in the Tomb. Do you think Jane is as evil and power-hungry as her brother? Or is she a force for good?
There are many meta-fictional layers to the ideas of Fillory, Christopher Plover, and the Chatwins. Lev Grossman has created an entire fictional world and life for Plover and you can read more about it in this article. (This annotation contains a link)
Why is Quentin so angry with Jane Chatwin?
A "bit player" is an actor who only has a few lines of dialogue in a play and does not contribute greatly to the action of the storyline. By using this expression, Quentin is reiterating that Alice and all of his friends were merely pawns in a much larger struggle for control in Fillory.
Time is an important motif in this text. Using at least one example from the text, explain how Grossman uses the idea of time in this novel.
It's very important take note of how Grossman speeds up or slows down the text at various times. Sometimes, during climatic events, Grossman spends many pages describing one or two hours of action. At other times, as he does in this highlighted sentence, he skips through time quickly to move the story along.
Upon his arrival back in New York City, Quentin's attitude can best be described as
The word "cauchemar" means "nightmare" in French.
After his trying adventure, Quentin attempts to return to a normal life by taking a job as
This phrase, translated from French, means "the king is dead." Keep this in mind as you continue to read.
Quentin and Emily feel a sense of camaraderie because of their shared
Notice how Quentin's self-control is much stronger here, as he resists giving in to Emily's seduction. He also has become more thoughtful about his life and the path that he wants to take. Protagonists often undergo a change or transformation over the course of the text. Has Quentin become more mature and thoughtful?
Quentin used the phrase "le roi est mort" earlier to describe himself. Now, his friends are asking him to come with them to take the throne in Fillory. What do you think Quentin should do?