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.