linnea's Reviews > The Magician King

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
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Sep 22, 11

bookshelves: girlswhodothings, postmodern-magic, wizards-and-magic
Read in August, 2011

Yes, I gave this five stars. I haven't finished anything since I read this because nothing's as good. I think I'm just going to have to read The Magicians again so I can re-read this one.

I love the way Grossman expands on the world he created in The Magicians. I wasn't sure how it would work once he left behind the quasi-Harry Potter world of Brakebills. The end of The Magicians was good, but I wasn't sure what else could be done with Fillory. This book takes everything to another level. It juxtaposes two storylines--one about Quentin trying to fill the role of Magician King, and the other about Julia and what happened to her before she met up with Eliot and Janet at the end of the last book.

Julia's story deals with her academic failure that follows her rejection from Brakebills and her obsession with learning more about magic and magical theory. It starts with the big paradigm shift--Magic is Real and then shows how someone might respond. Julia is an intellectual so she comes at this from an intellectual direction--researching, but her obsession makes her an addict. Really, thinking about it now she reminds me a lot of Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Grossman, though, unlike Whedon, treats magic more as a technology than as a moral force. Even so, things get really dark and the characters are all forced to admit that even when they can control magic they're dealing with forces they don't understand. The comparison with science is made more clear in Julia's story, but even here we're not encouraged to think of magic as something more normal, but to think of science as something more wild. Grossman is using all of these weirder discoveries of the past decades as a way to illustrate that maybe science is just another kind of magic. I was really fascinated by the way he brings religion into this, religion as the biggest magic. And then he allows the world to kind of question itself. Does magic have a morality? When the characters start praying are they just doing experiments or is it more than that?
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