Syfy’s adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians Trilogy is one that doesn’t always stay true to the books, though the deviation from the source material actually helps in this case. Both the books and television series follow Quentin Coldwater as he discovers that magic is real, heading off to magic school and eventually to the world of Fillory—a world often described as a much bleaker version of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia.
But while Grossman’s novels mainly stay in Quentin’s perspective, Syfy’s The Magicians manages to expand upon the world and characters Grossman created by focusing on the rest of the cast as well. The Magicians tackles the perspectives of the books’ side characters, turning each of them into much bigger components of the series. This is particularly true of Julia, Quentin’s childhood best friend, who doesn’t get much page time until the second book in the series, but is a focal point of the show from the first episode.
And it’s not just the additional character development that’s done well in Syfy’s interpretation of The Magicians. The show also connects many of the plot points that the book leaves open or doesn’t tie together, rounding out the characters’ storylines in satisfying ways that allow that series to successfully stand on its own, despite the fact that it’s based on Grossman’s books.
Although The Magicians’ novels can be quirky at times, Grossman’s story remains fairly bleak over the course of the books. While Syfy captures the darker aspects of the series, it also balances them through humorous writing and snarky dialogue. Such things make the show a joy to watch, even if it’s a different experience from reading the novels.