Google+ If You Like Books: The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

If you like: fantasy * quests * the Chronicles of Narnia

The Magician King is the sequel to The Magicians. (See my review here.) We follow Quentin as he embarks on a quest to find the seven keys of Fillory and save the world from the old gods. Throughout the story we learn about how Julia came to possess magical knowledge after she did not get into Brakebills, and the toll it took on her life. Fillory is now home to Quentin, Julia, Eliot, and Janet. Being a king or queen of Fillory is less challenging than any of them imagined – until the world starts to fall apart and it is left to them to fix it.

Much more of this story takes place in existing magical realms than on Earth. This helped The Magician King to flow much more naturally than The Magicians. Though Quentin is still unsatisfied with life, and continues his search for something more, being in a land of quests and the unknown makes searching for something beyond the sameness of the everyday more understandable. Julia’s path to magic also provides a stark contrast to the Brakebills students. Their journey was not easy, but it was carefully cultivated and guided. Julia had to seek the underbelly of magic, and flirt with insanity to get there. Her dramatic dress and carriage no longer seem ridiculous once she shares her story. The way in which their paths overlap to lead them to the search for the seven keys is well crafted and cohesively binds together all of the events in The Magician King.

The journey that Quentin endures in The Magician King is much more inviting for the reader. It does often feel very referential to the Chronicles of Narnia – and even acknowledges this at times. Though the quest to find purpose in life continues to be a strong theme, it feels much more validated in Fillory. Before Quentin found magic, it made sense that he felt something was missing from his life, but as it continued on it got a bit tiresome in The Magicians. Quentin has matured a bit as a king, and it makes his character more enjoyable. In some ways, the story would benefit from being published as a combined volume instead of two separate books.

If you haven’t found your calling, but know that it is out there, read The Magician King.

Grossman, Lev. The Magician King. New York: Viking, 2011. Kindle edition.

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