The Magicians is Harry Potter for the adult world. The sense of magic and wonder is still there, but instead of being wonderful and fantastic like chlidhood, it is worn down and jaded like adults normally see the world. This creates a curious juxtaposition of wonder and boredom, excitement and normalcy, which makes for not only a great fantasy story, but a critique on the entire genere as a whole. Astoundingly, despite the jaded feelings of the main character, the story is never brought down into a story of depression, but rather a fantastic look at what a realistic magical world would look like to us.
The biggest challenge for a fantasy novel released today is competing with Harry Potter, and Briliantly, instead of competing with Harry Potter, it tackles the fantasy genere from a different angle. There is no great adventure to be had, no main evil to be beaten, instead there is simply life to be lived, and the day to day adventures we have without even thinking about. I love the fantasy genere, but am usually jaded with the overly optimistic worlds because it feels very unrealistic. In the real world, nothing is gotten without sacrifice or struggle, and even then you have to fight to keep it; there is no happily ever after. The Magicians appeals to me for the same reasons Lord of the Rings does; everything is won only after a struggle, and there is no happily ever to be had, only an 'after'.