Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review of The Magician King

Title: The Magician King
Author: Lev Grossman
Genre: Adult fantasy
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication date: August 2011

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I don't typically review books that are the second or third in a series. That's because it's hard to review a sequel without giving away too much information about the first book. Now, however, I'm breaking my own rule for The Magician King because I just can't let it go to print without putting in my two cents.

But, that being said, there are ***SPOILERS*** in this review if you haven't read The Magicians.

I'm going to start with the thing I liked the most about The Magician King. It's a feeling. It's the same feeling I get when I'm at the movie theater (about once every six months) and the movie is something I'm really excited about, but while the previews are on I'm totally engrossed and not thinking about the feature film. Then the previews end and for a split second I forget what's coming next. And when I remember, I get this sudden jolt of nervous excitement.

Maybe it's just me--I don't get out much--but that's how this book made me feel whenever one of Julia's chapters came up.

Which brings me to my next point: Julia. Her chapters only occupy about 1/4 of the real estate in this novel, if that, but it's clear that she is the protagonist of The Magician King. This is partly because Quentin is still a mopey little wiener who sighs around his own story but mostly because Julia is a force of nature. Finally we get to hear what happened to her between her ill-fated Brakebills entrance exam and her ascension as Queen of Fillory.

Meanwhile, Quentin is looking for something to do. He settles upon a journey to Utter Island to collect three years' worth of back taxes, but being Quentin he has to make an ostentatious quest out of the expedition. And, of course, things start to get weird pretty fast. He and Julia make an interesting team: both with a caravan's worth of emotional baggage, both incredibly smart and powerful, both really good at screwing up their own lives.

Where Quentin (I love Quentin, I really do, but he's SO emo) is depressed in a kind of sad and pathetic way, Julia is depressed in a dark, fiery, angry way. She's totally hardcore in her unhappiness, and her magic is an extension of that. In The Magician King we finally get to see what the non-Brakebills-educated magicians are all about, and let me tell you, it's pretty awesome.

I'm going to stop there, before I give too much away. Suffice it to say that the dialogue is still hilarious, the prose is still luscious, and the characters are still irritatingly human. I plan to read this one again when it comes out in August.


Anonymous said...

OMG, I cannot wait to read this book! :) Lily

Gina said...

Great review..
I can't be patient to read this Book.....
I loveit... ^^

Uzbekistan Andronicus Liebschutz said...

I just finished this last night. Totally agree with you about Julia. Began a blog today and Google Image Searched the book to publish the photo and found your blog. Would love to follow you; feel free to follow back. I'm new to all this. Hope you don't mind I'm using your photo. Won't steal bandwidth.

Micaella Lopez said...

The book is a fun fantasy but also reflects on what it means to be a hero, the costs of searching for power, and the appeal of fantasy itself. Can't recommend it enough! Unless, of course, strong language and frank discussion of sex bothers you. If so, it's probably not your cuppa tea.
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