Sarah's Reviews > The Magician King

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
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's review
Sep 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read from August 31 to September 06, 2011

When I finished The Magicians I found myself confused. Was Grossman satirizing the genre or contributing to it? I decided that he had set out to do the former, and wound up doing the latter. He somehow fell into that enviable position where his fantasy work was considered literary by the mainstream community that often scorns genre work.

A sequel, it would seem to me, is more of a declaration. Satires don't have sequels. So called literary fiction doesn't often have sequels. Grossman goes all in.

So, it's a fantasy sequel about some disaffected twentysomethings, last seen as disaffected teens. It tells two interlaced stories, one present and one in the recent past. It continues to show the darker side of the somewhat bloodless battles and magics one sees in YA fantasy. But here's the thing: they're adults now. And violence in ADULT fantasy is nothing new. The result is an odd mix: moody and petulant child-adults drifting through a children's fantasy world trying to figure out the rules and mostly falling onto the next step by pure dumb luck.

I liked the main characters better than I did in the first book. I still got frustrated with Quentin's ennui, but it helped that he himself was willing to address his disaffection this time. It was interesting to see Julia's side of the story, largely untold in the first book, though I got frustrated with elements of her journey as well.

I'm wavering between three and four stars. Four because I found it hard to put the book down, and it did have some neat settings and situations. Three because many of the secondary characters fell a bit flat to me, and several threads dropped off without being regathered. Characters appeared out of convenience and then disappeared again.
Four because Quentin had a better arc than in the first book. Three because (view spoiler) I'm going to go with the four, but know that it is a star with an asterisk. I enjoyed the book as I was reading it, but it is souring a little as I write about it. No, I'm going to go with the three. I liked it. I liked it as much as the first one, which I gave a four. Now I'm thoroughly confused.

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Reading Progress

03/02 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Sarah First line of the book: "Quentin rode a gray horse with white socks named Dauntless." Question: Who named the horse's socks, and why?

message 2: by janine (new)

janine :)

Shannon @Sarah: that's an example of why I can't stand these books. Poor writing and even worse editing.

Sarah I'm still on the fence. Memorable, but not really in a good way.

Warwick Wow, my review is practically a paraphrase of this one. Totally agree with all of this, especially the general confusion..

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