Coming-of-age novels, like “The Magicians”, were designed for young readers to relate to the characters created by the author. Most of these novels depict a young character facing a moral dilemma or navigating their way through trivial times in their life such as high school.
The Magicians, however, adds a touch of fantasy and raises the bar to create a more complex story and protagonist. This type of novel is often created to help young adults by portraying a character as a person going through the same issues of morality as the reader, but fantasy piques the interest of the reader by adding a dire life-or-death trope.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009) involves a senior high school student named Quentin who finds himself thrust into a new world when he is admitted into an elite college of sorcery in upstate New York.
Being a young, reserved teen, fascinated with a book he read as a child about a mythical place called Fillory, Quentin discovers Fillory is real. Unfortunately, all while experiencing the bright aspects of young adulthood, Quentin delves into the dark fantasy that once was a childhood story.
It can be understood why books like The Magicians are so popular. The author achieves following the tropes of fantasy while having his readers relate to the young character.
Quentin experiences the benchmarks of youth such as love and friendship. After reading The Magicians, you may find it hard to find a captivating YA coming-of-age novel with the perfect fantasy mix.
Here is a list of suggestions perfect for readers who love a good coming-of-age/fantasy story.
Best Books Like The Magicians
“Eragon”, Christopher Paolini (2002)
Eragon is part of a series created by Paolini who mentioned in 2007 that the series was just too complex to be squeezed into three books. Taking place in a fictional land where dragons and their riders exist, Eragon is a young stable boy who stumbles upon a dragon egg.
After follows a journey of revenge, rescue, and bravery. Much like The Magicians, Eragon spins a tale of finding courage and morality as a youth. You can find the novel and the following series here.
Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Series, Tad Williams (1988-1993)
This series was commended by George R. R. Martin, writer of the Game of Thrones Series as a story he drew a lot of his inspiration from.
Simon, the protagonist is a kitchen boy as well as a magician’s apprentice who fantasizes about heroism and great moral deeds when a civil war involving sorcery erupts in his world, Osten Ard.
The series follows Simon as he navigates his way through the world of humans, trolls, and various entities of dark magic, embarking on a quest to bring down the Storm King.
Williams and Grossman (The Magicians) both create a compelling protagonist who is pulled from the world they know and thrown into something they only fantasized about making their dreams a reality.
Williams creates a perfect parallel to the Magicians and includes a quest aspect to delve further into the fantasy genre. You can find all three novels here.
The Dragon Keeper, Robin Hobb (2009)
The Dragon Keeper is a slightly different addition to this list. Unlike The Magician, the story is told through the point of view of many of the main characters, Thymara a forest girl born with a birth defect of scales, Alise the unhappy wife of a trader with a self-taught knowledge of dragons, and even a dragon named Sinatra who after being born discovers she is deformed and will likely not fly.
Each character has a dilemma that ties into the problems of other characters throughout the book. Hobb’s novel is a great addition to this list because of the elements brought by the young characters.
This story features betrayal, love, and conflict like The Magician, and is told from multiple points of view to keep the reader interested and involved. You can find the Hobb novel here.
Assassin’s Apprentice, Robin Hobb (1995)
Hobb has made the list again with Assassin’s Apprentice, a story involving a young royal outcast Fitz with the strange gift of speaking to animals. However, the art that kept Fitz hopeful comes with a price if practiced too often.
Once welcomed into the royal household, he is forced to leave his old habits behind and train to become an assassin.
This novel is a part of The Farseer Trilogy created by Hobbs who has proven she can write compelling characters like the ones in The Magician. You can find Assassin’s Apprentice and the rest of the series here.
Across the Nightingale Floor, Lian Hearn (2002)
Across the Nightingale Floor is about a young boy named Takeo raised among spiritual people who value peace. Soon after the Village was attacked, Takeo finds out that his father was a skilled assassin.
Takeo is taken under the wing of Lord Shigeru who teaches him skills and trains him to prepare to cross the Nightingale floor of warlord Sadamu. You can pick up the captivating novel and follow the journey here.
The Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling (1997)
An oldie but a goodie, The Harry Potter series had to be added to this list of coming-of-age/fantasy novels. Like the Magician, it follows the journey of a young character while experiencing the normal day-to-day problems of a young adult.
Even though targeted towards a younger population, this series can be enjoyed by everyone and is the holy grail of fantasy. Of course, the main character Harry, who learns he is a wizard after spending years living with his awful aunt, uncle, and cousin, goes off to Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry.
Soon, he learns he is being hunted by an evil wizard named Voldemort, the same one that killed his parents. Harry’s journey is documented over seven novels ending with a showdown at Hogwarts. You can find the household name of this series here.
Furies of Calderon, Jim Butcher (2004)
The Citizens of Alera defend themselves against different races of the world by a bond with furies who practice skills with the elements.
Tavi, a young fifteen-year-old boy struggles to use this craft, and after Alera is invaded by a savage threat, he must rely on his skills and knowledge to defend himself and Alera. You can find the novel by Jim butcher here.
The Druid, Jeff Wheeler (2022)
A story full of betrayals and deception, The Druid is about a young girl Eilean who is lowborn and chosen to serve and aid the establishment of a new town.
As a night servant to the Druid Mordaunt who is harboring a secret, a secret of magical worlds, Eilean must gain his trust and persuade him to divulge his secrets. You can find the novel by Wheeler here.
The Shannara Series, Terry Brooks (1977-2020)
The Shannara Series consists of thirty-two novels written by Terry Brooks who weaves a story about Kings, Druids, Elf stones, and Magic. Comparative to a modern Lord of the Rings, these books contain complex, fascinating characters and plots involving love and destiny.
A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik (2020)
The First Addition to the Schoolmance Novels, A Deadly Education is about El who attends Schoolmance, a school for students with Magical Talent but this comes with a price. Students either pass or die.
There are no breaks, holidays, or teachers but many make allies. The school is inhabited by dark monsters, and El has a unique power but risks hurting people if used. You can read the first Schoolmance novel here.
Fairy Tale, Stephen King (2022)
King writes about Charlie Read who is a young high school student, with a mom who died in a car crash and a dad who drinks, Charlie Carries a burden.
He befriends a sheltered neighbor with a dog, and when the neighbor dies he leaves Charlie his house and keys to a parallel universe at war. Fairy Tale is yet another story about a young adult forced to shoulder a burden and find bravery and heroism within themselves. You can find King’s novel here.
The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon (2019)
Read from the point of view of three women, The Priory of the Orange Tree is about Queen Sabran the ninth who must conceive a daughter to save the realm of Inys, but she is hunted by assassins.
Ead is an outsider that belongs to a secret society of mages. She keeps a watchful eye and protects Queen Sabran in secret.
Tane is a skilled dragon rider but must make a choice that could put her life in turmoil. Follow the Priory of the Orange Tree here.
The Painted Man/The Warded Man, Peter V. Brett (2008-2009)
Titled The Painted Nam in the UK, Brett’s novel follows the point of view of three characters from childhood to maturity as they fight off “Corelings”, demons who rise from the earth to feast on the helpless.
These demons have reduced the inhabitants of the earth and forced all societies into the dark ages. Follow the journey of these three characters here, while they fight to save humanity.
Dawn of Wonder, Johnathan Renshaw (2015)
Dawn of Wonder, an award-winning novel by Renshaw is about Aeden, an adventurer who finds himself on a journey after an officer comes to town with a warning for all of the country folk.
Aeden’s curiosity leads him on an adventure, eventually to the nation’s academy, a place full of wonder and secrecy. You can follow Aeden’s journey in the novel here.
Armageddon’s Children, Terry Brooks (2006)
Yet another read by Terry Brooks, Armageddon’s Children takes place on a ravaged landscape that once was America.
Logan Tom and Angela Perez fight for their lives before their paths cross, as the two protagonists navigate through a poisoned land and find destiny and responsibility. Armageddon’s Children takes place in the Shannara Series created by Terry Brooks which can be found here.
Gone Series, Michael Grant (2008)
Gone is a series added to this list again for its multiple points of view. It makes a great coming-of-age novel because of the variety of conflicts faced by the protagonist and its multiple antagonists.
In Gone, persons over the age of fifteen have disappeared all at once causing the teens to fend for themselves in the FAYZ while developing powers. Gone is a great comparison to The Magician series because both authors create characters who must step up and become leaders to overcome their obstacles, a common trope in this genre. The Novel can be found here.
The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare (2014)
The Mortal Instruments is a popular series among teens and like Quentin in the Magicians, Clary the main character joins a sort of society.
Made up of shadow hunters that hunt demons, members of the society help Clary find out more about her family line. Clary finds herself in a new world, a world that her mother tried to shield her from.
Half a King, Joe Abercrombie (2014-2015)
Half a King is a part of the Shattered Sea series by Abercrombie. This novel is about a young prince Yarvi, after being forsaken and left to die by his family, involuntarily becomes heir to the throne of a world in turmoil.
Yarvi after losing his hand is seen as weak, having no way to defend himself. The prince in turn sharpens his wits and gathers a band of outcasts. This story creates a compelling plot of twists and turns perfect for a reader looking for adventure. You can follow Yarvi’s adventure here.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
The Name of the Wind is the first in the Kingkiller Chronicles Series and takes place in the fictional world of Temerant and the parallel realm of the Fae. Kote is an innkeeper, and his assistant Bast is a prince of the fae. Kote once was a well-known fighter, magician, and king killer, but after saving a scribe from an attack, reluctantly allows the scribe to hear his story about how he came to be. Find the first series in the King Killer stories here.
Twilight, Stephanie Meyer (2005-2008)
Twilight is a beloved book by teens and adults around the world, but if you have not read it yet, Meyer writes about the later teen years of Bella Swan who meets a vampire Edward, and falls in love. Throughout seven books, they fight to stay together. Find the first book of the popular series here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between fiction and fantasy books?
Fiction and Fantasy are quite alike by definition. They both represent elements of non-truth. However, the distinction can be made by analyzing perception and differences in concept.
Fantasy might consist of magic and dragons, and trolls, but Fiction might consist of time travel or aliens. Fiction can be perceived as something that is misunderstood, whereas Fantasy can be perceived as strange.
Are coming-of-age novels about age?
Coming-of-age novels aren’t necessarily about age. They are about growth and newfound responsibility. In most of these novels, the main character or characters will have found a sense of maturity.
Why are coming-of-age books so popular?
Coming-of-age books are popular because they help the reader, young or old, reflect. Many times we find a bit of ourselves in the characters we read. It is very interesting to become invested in the decisions those characters make and why they make them.
Are “Coming of Age” books timeless?
Of course, they are timeless. These books are suitable for any reader and even older audiences can enjoy reading or even re-reading something they picked up as a young adult. That is what makes the books so great.
Is it hard to pick a new fantasy book?
It doesn’t have to be! Picking a new fantasy read can be exciting. It allows you to escape into literature with a touch of magic.
- The 20 Best Books Like The Magicians (Coming-of-Age Novels) - February 28, 2023