This book was recommended to me from a whole bunch of people, so I couldn't not read it eventually.
I'm impressed how fresh the series seems, despite...moreThis book was recommended to me from a whole bunch of people, so I couldn't not read it eventually.
I'm impressed how fresh the series seems, despite treading over incredibly familiar territories. That said, it had its fair share of clichés and predictable outcomes. They were a few places where it delved into territory that made me think, "Oh, that's Harry Potter" or "Oh, that's Wheel of Time", but it wasn't too bad. The writing was great, and it had a nice mix of action and world-building.
What was odd, though, was that I found myself caring more about the framing story than about the flashbacks that make up most of the novel. While I was excited about the story, perhaps I was excited too much about the wrong parts. There's no guarantee we'll get any substantial additions to the framing story. As I neared the end of the book, I thought to myself, "I can't wait to get this trilogy(!) out of the way so I can find out what actually happens next!" I guess I look at the three books planned as a prequel trilogy to a main story. In any case, I'm not sure I have the right attitude here.
In any case, a very strong high fantasy title that I would recommend to anyone looking for a new read in that genre. Nothing ground-breaking, but a very solid novel.(less)
I was pretty hesitant going into The Magicians; the main selling point. "It's a grittier Harry Potter!" falls flat with me. That premise alone was the...moreI was pretty hesitant going into The Magicians; the main selling point. "It's a grittier Harry Potter!" falls flat with me. That premise alone was the source of much of its popularity, and that worried me. Sadly, the first part of the book never did more than live up to the sales pitch. A secret school, classmates, a perfunctory mention of Quidditch, just a wink and a nod, and that's it.
The later parts, however, redeem the storytelling, and the book starts to stand on its own. This is especially apparent when it starts to explore the nature of depression and the poignant sadness of living in a world where the extraordinary only happens in the books you read. (view spoiler)[For much of the story, Quentin is given everything he could want, just for him to take and discard. Nothing ever is quite enough. The narrative doesn't provide resolution for Quentin's condition -- certainly doesn't put Quentin through the therapy that everyone acknowledges would help -- but leaves us with a lot of questions. (hide spoiler)]
Since we are stuck with Quentin's attitude and depression, at least the questions around it are raised, acknowledged, and discussed. Here is where the book is truly at its heart, and it also exposes a not-yet-tired metaphor for the post-college doldrums that have recently become such a popular topic. What do you do when the world can't match your expectations? What if college really was as good as it was going to get? How do you reclaim the happiness that's always been just out of reach?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After the third book, I did not have high hopes for the end of the series. The previous books had left too much unfinished - too many characters had d...moreAfter the third book, I did not have high hopes for the end of the series. The previous books had left too much unfinished - too many characters had dropped off the map, too many unexplained occurrences, too much dull backstory (*cough* book three)
This book, however, was fantastic. The writing was fantastic, the plot moved along at a good clip, and storylines and characters were wrapped up in a very satisfying way. I enjoyed the callbacks to the previous books, musical, and movie - though I'm sure some will find those to be cheap distractions. It absolutely exceeded my expectations, as I feared there was just too much there for Maguire to work with. I should not have worried!
I felt this was excellent way to end the series. If you enjoyed books 1 & 2 (even if you weren't a huge fan of book 3, like me), you're really going to enjoy this final volume. (less)
I had been waiting for this ever since the indeterminate ending of book 2 -- could that volume have really been the e...moreAt long last, the saga concludes.
I had been waiting for this ever since the indeterminate ending of book 2 -- could that volume have really been the end? Lucky for us all, the third book has emerged, and was incredibly fun.
The steampunk focus of the previous novels remains present, but there is a slightly more political and personal bent to this story; the stakes have gone up, the number of characters has dropped, and the mysteries of the characters are being revealed. The incredible depth of the world has grown, and so the outside world has become ever more important. The sheer imagination and coordination needed to complete this series on a high note is incredible, and Gordon Dahlquist has pulled it off.
This isn't to say there aren't some flaws here. Certainly, there is some repetition, as every action scene seems like one before; some locations and enemies are back yet again. Not to mention that the characters continue to escape from inescapable scenarios, sometimes through contrived plots. There are even a few nods to some previous unconvincing behaviors, though this helps me to accept it. In the end, none of this ever gets in the way; it never detracts from the intriguing main plot line.
Once you get to a certain point in long series, you start thinking about its ending. Will it be worth my time? Will it be sufficient for the magnitude of story that has come before it? In this case, I had those thoughts long before I normally would, due to the long and uncertain wait for volume 3. There's no worries, though, as Dahlquist completes the series very convincingly, with a nicely tied-up ending. I was very happy, even if some subtle points were left out (though I find those are often unsatisfying).
A suitable and rewarding end to the series, which comes across as a major steampunk opus, well worth the time of any fans of the genre.(less)
This book does many things well -- most of the Fillory sequences were great, and there was plenty of the inventiveness that characterized the first en...moreThis book does many things well -- most of the Fillory sequences were great, and there was plenty of the inventiveness that characterized the first entry in the series. However, the parts of the first book I liked the most were harder to find here. At times, I got a hint of Terry Pratchett, occasionally a hint of Douglas Adams (bumming around between island/planets with the leader of the universe/world), but that was only ever for too-brief flashes.
(view spoiler)[Quentin's emotional state seemed more stuck -- and less interesting -- than before. The whole Julia storyline, a huge portion of the book, seemed both too intense and too separated from the other story to be as meaningful as the author intended. The character remained so distant that I'm not sure she had any value in the story at all. The other characters were actually often more interesting than those two, and the tiny flashes of Benedict screamed for far more backstory. What we got could have happened on Earth. (hide spoiler)]
It seemed like this sequel was not meant to be written; that it was artificially adding to an already complete story. We really didn't need to know what happened after that story ended. In any case, I wonder if I'll feel the same way about the next entry in the series (well, there will probably be one, right?) I still feel like there's so much potential here, we're just not seeing it. It was enjoyable, but not what it could have been.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)