The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman

booksmagic.jpgI hadn’t read a graphic novel in what seems like ages, so it was really nice to kick of Dewey’s Graphic Novel Challenge with Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic. It’s one that has been sitting on my shelf now along with a few other graphic novels just waiting to be read…but unfortunately, they always get looked over. But today I wanted a break from normal reading, so I broke this one out and I was so happy with it.

The Books of Magic follows Timothy Hunter, a young boy who is skateboarding one day when four men in trench coats approach him. Needless to say, he’s a bit suspicious of these men, but they offer something to him that few teenage boys could refuse…an honest magic trick – they turn his yo-yo into an owl. With that, they ask him if he is interested in becoming a magician; a true magician, not one who deals only in illusions. It is his choice to make, but they feel that he could be one of the world’s greatest and most powerful magician’s ever. If he chooses magic, he must leave the world he knows and not look back. In order to make this choice, they bring him through the history of magic.

Timothy is first taken back in time to the days of the first practicioners of magic. He visits ancient Egypt, Atlantis, he meets Merlin, angels and demons, the Salem witch trials and more. He then spends time traveling around the world in it’s current day meeting the modern practioners of magic and slowly learning that their is a price on his head as it leaks out in the magic community just how much power this one boy could hold. After this adventurous volume we follow Timothy into the land of Faerie where he’s nearly tricked into slavery at a fairy market, thrown into the clutches of Baba Yaga and meets the beautiful queen Titania. There’s also a guest appearance by Dream from The Sandman in this section! And finally, Timothy travels into the future, first in the near future continuing til the end of time where he meets Death from The Sandman. Throughout all of this, he must sort out his feelings of what is magic? What does it cost? And is it worth it to me?

The story is wonderfully written by Neil Gaiman. I read all 190 pages of it in one sitting unable to put it down. He writes comics just as well as he does novels and the art was just amazing for the book. The artist for the first book (the past) was John Bolton, the second book (the present) was Scott Hampton, the third (Faerie) was Charles Vess, and the final book (the future) was Paul Johnson. I’ve seen collaborations between Bolton and Gaiman and Vess and Gaiman before but the other two artists were new to me. Of course I’m extremely partial to Charles Vess’ work as he’s one of my favorite living artists and that book was just beautiful. It was perfect that he illustrated the section that took place in Faerie and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been done any other way. There was also a wonderful introduction by Roger Zelazny at the beginning of the book who is obviously another fan of Gaiman’s.

I’ve heard that there are some other books out there that tie into this one…In a very strange coincidence, Debi happened to review one of them today! It’s called The Books of Faerie. I’ll definitely have to check that one out as I’d like to read more about Tim Hunter’s experiences.

10 Responses

  1. I love this book. I’m glad you did too 😀 I agree that the art is wonderful, and of course, the story is too. The cameos by Dream and Death made me extremely happy.

    I’m curious about the Books of Faerie… I got the second without even knowing it was the second one, so now it looks like I’ll have to get the one Debi read too.

    Then of course there’s the rest of The Books of Magic series…I haven’t read them, but I read the novelizations by Carla Jablonski, and although they were fun they didn’t live up to the original. Maybe the graphic novels are better, but considering that they weren’t written by Neil it would be hard for them to be as good. But still, it was good to read about Tim’s further adventures!

  2. I haven’t read the first book but I have read a couple of others in the series and a couple of the spin offs (The Book of Names and The Book of Faerie Auberon’s Tale). At some point I hope to read the first book and fill in some of the blanks!

  3. well your reading list is growing fast now!

    I know how you enjoy Gaiman’s work be it novel or graphic novel, it’s good that he puts out so much reading material!

  4. Wow! This sounds lovely. As you described it, I could see it as a lovely eerie animated film. Heaven knows who could do it justice. -C

  5. I’m only starting to love Neil Gaiman, and this one sounds wonderful, I must look for it!

  6. What a coincidence! Well, if my little taste of Timothy Hunter’s life wasn’t enough, your review certainly was! I really, really, really hope our library has The Books of Magic!

  7. Nymeth, I figured that you were a big fan of this one too…gee, how did I guess? 😉 I have a feeling that I’ll be picking up the Books of Faerie as well. And I had no idea that this had been expanded into a whole series by Vertigo until after I read this last night. I’m sort of iffy about it, but I think I still may give it a try. It looks by the cover of one of them that Death is a main character which is even more weird. I can’t imagine Death not written by Neil Gaiman…didn’t someone do a Death manga too?

    Rhinoa, There’s a Book of Names too?! Wow…I didn’t realize how big this series became after this first book. Very cool. It was an awesome universe that he created and I’d definitely like to read more. Thanks for letting me know about it!

    Deslily, It’s slowly getting there! I’m playing catch up for my slow start :p That’s what I usually do. For some reason I never read very much at the beginning of the year and then I get in the swing of things! There’s so much Gaiman to read, especially in the Graphic Novel format…so I’m a happy camper 🙂

    Carole, It’s an awesome book! It would make a really cool animated film. I’m sure the rights have been signed to someone…if not, they should be. But like you said, it’s a matter of who could do it justice. Gaiman does a great job with this subject matter and if it ever were made into a film, I’d hope that he’d be on the writing team.

    Valentina, He’s definitely one to love! Glad you’re joining in on the love boat 🙂 Definitely look for it, I think you’d enjoy it.

    Debi, Weird coincidence, huh? I laughed when I saw your post. You’d love this one, especially after reading the one you just finished…it’ll tell you all about the beginning of his journey from a normal boy. I’m sure your library will have it…I checked ours and they all do…so I hope yours does too!

  8. I’m so ashamed. I haven’t picked this Gaiman book up yet and I even work at a comic shop! How sad is that? 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’m going to order it ASAP. I need to get it for the Vess art as well. He is one of my favorite’s, too.

  9. I talked to Carl last night and he hasn’t read this one either which gave us both a chuckle. We both agreed we needed to rectify that soon. Gaiman we haven’t read. The shame. 🙂

  10. Jeff, You should definitely get it. The Vess art was my favorite of course and it was perfect that he illustrated the faerie section. I have quite a quite a few Gaiman GNs on my list that I haven’t read is ashame, isn’t it? lol…I’ve read all of his novels, but not all of the comics. Hoping to fix that this year!

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