Wednesday, October 12, 2011

REVIEW: The Magician King by Lev Grossman

The Magician King picks up a few years after the first novel the Magicians left off with Quentin, Julia, Janet, and Elliot occupying the four thrones of the magical land of Fillory.  All is not as exciting as one in such a lofty position would wish and Quentin who is bored with his role, wishes for some kind of quest.  It becomes quite apparent that something is not right in Fillory as of late and when things go horribly wrong on a hunting trip, Quentin gets his wish and sets out on an ancient ship to fulfill his given mission accompanied by Julia who agrees to come along for the ride.  Again things do not go quite as planned and Quentin and Julia end up in the most unexpected of places-back at Quentin's parent's house in Massachusetts.  Now they must figure out how to return to Fillory relying mostly on Julia's unconventional magic and also to complete the quest Quentin was given and save Fillory (and magic) before it is too late.

When I read The Magicians a couple of months ago I couldn't understand what was supposed to be so great about it-way too much sex and too many obvious allusions to really well known fantasy series'.  Here it seems Grossman took the time to do all the things that he didn't bother to do in the first book.  He developed the main characters and the setting.  He made said characters more bearable.  He took the classic fantasy quest and coated it in his own brand of weirdness that he only semi-developed in the first book.  And the best thing he did in this book?  He divided the storyline between Quentin and Julia instead of just keeping it all about Quentin and in doing so made Julia one kick ass character who totally stole the show!  Julia's story fills in the blanks as to what happened after she failed to get into Brakebills (the magic school attended by Quentin, Elliott and Janet) and takes us up until the point she meets up with Janet and Elliott and joins in with the main storyline.  Grossman develops this whole magical underworld that was really quite entertaining and the reader quickly realizes Julia is equal parts vulnerable, genius, slightly nutty, and someone you do NOT want to make angry.  Quentin is much better in this book as well since we get to see him start to leave behind the asinine behavior he exhibited in the first book.  Is he hero material here?  No, but neither is he the same Quentin I spent all of the last book wanting to punch in the face.  I found myself rooting for him just a little bit, especially in the end.

Is this book perfect?  No.  There were still a few issues-namely that Grossman brings some characters back from the Magicians for the sole purpose of them making an appearance.  I think he could have done a little better integrating them into the current story once he introduced them again.  Also, while I loved the Julia storyline, I'm not sure I cared where the character ended up.  As with the first book this one was also plagued with strange happenings (more than one of which had me going ewww and some that had me asking if he really had to go there).  Still this was a vast improvement over the first book (and with an ending that I totally did not see coming).  I'm glad I stuck it out after Magicians and read the Magician King.  I'm looking forward to seeing where Grossman goes with his next book.

Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I have been wanting to read this book for a while, it sounds interesting. Hopefully I will get to it soon! Thanks for the great review.

  2. This may sound cheesy or over the top, but I think this story may have changed my life, at least a little. I know I am going to be thinking about this for a long time. I don't know if there is going to be a sequel. The ending is such that it could or could not and I don't even know if I want there to be. I do know that this was one of the best books I have read in years and could not recommend it more highly.
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