Jordan's Reviews > The Magician King

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
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's review
Jan 19, 2013

it was amazing

Wow, again.

Starting off with the things I didn't like.
First off, the story goes back and forth between the past and present. The past, for the most part, is much more boring than the present. Just when you're getting into the present, it may cut to the past and leave you hanging. It's not terrible, but I did sigh a few times realizing I'd have to wait for more story progression. The farther the story progresses, the more interesting the backstory is, so it ends up being alright. I do wish there were fewer chapters overall in the past, though.
Sometimes, characters said or did truly dumb things. I am thinking of two things specifically, but both are spoilers.
Quentin is overall an improved person. Less illogically unhappy, and ever so slightly more mature. To make up for this, we get Julia. She's great sometimes, but obnoxious early on in her back-story, or at least I thought so. I am sure not everyone feels that way. Her issues were relatable, especially if you've ever gone through depression or something like that, but I never liked my own thoughts while depressed, and I didn't really like reading hers any more. She ultimately grew on me, but it was a struggle to get there.
The main plot. The deepest core of it. What...? One of the concepts was way too convenient. (view spoiler)
Not that I have many respectful things to say about Christianity, but this story is unfair to it. The characters are willing to check other religions for bits of truth, but Christianity was the 'meh' one. Because, you know, not like any of the rest are equally block-headed. /sarcasm Also, Julia originally had no proof for magic, then found out that was true, so it was extremely closed-minded of her to freak out over the suggestion of religion.

Everything else; the things I did love.
The writing style may not appeal to everyone. It lacks sentimentality, it doesn't draw out drama, and it's brutally honest. It says what it means, and what it means is the harsh, physical, truth. It can be emotional, but it's not a sappy, sensitive thing. If and when the story gets to you, it's because, 'Gee, I really didn't want that to happen.' The story feels real, the characters feel real. You get to experience it with your own opinions. Quentin's opinions are quite obvious, but even if the story follows him, the narration is honest. You enter the story in a way that lets you choose your own opinions on things.
Some characters hardly get any time in the story, but their personality still shines through. They can be deep and defined without giving them some dark back-story or moral dilemma that shows their souls to us. So many stories don't have developed characters until something happens. So many stories need personality-caricatures and stereotypes to keep characters defined. In this, a character walks on 'screen', talks, and uses body language. Voila! A character more defined and real than so many others from so many other novels. If you've read the first book, it's the same way.
The dry, disrespectful, sometimes immature humor is completely intact. I even bookmarked some pages with quotes I liked. Jokes happen naturally. They happen in 'serious' moments, but not when the character making them is serious, keeping the humor from ruining the story.

Rating R
Brief but intense violence, strong language, and rape. An anti-religious slant and a gay character if that bothers you, which it really shouldn't.

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