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The Magicians #3

The Magician's Land

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2014)
Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory--but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

402 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 5, 2014

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About the author

Lev Grossman

48 books8,762 followers
My novel The Magicians was a New York Times bestseller. So was the sequel, The Magician King. The third book in the trilogy, The Magician's Land, will be published in August 2014.

There's yet more information about me and my books on my website.

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Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,655 followers
July 15, 2015
Warning: spoilers to follow!

Perplexed. That’s how this series left me. I’m still not really sure what to make of it. Don’t get me wrong—the ultimate impression is a positive one. But, not unlike clichéd and stupid Facebook statuses, it’s complicated.

The Magicians left me depressed and flummoxed, but intrigued. It was the other side of the Harry Potter/Charlie Bucket coin—kid gets golden ticket, only golden ticket turns out to royally screw up one’s psyche. It was the Watchmen spin on the tried-and-true fantasy formula—let’s think about what would REALLY happen if some kid woke up one day, discovered he had magical powers, and got into a school with other hormonal and maladjusted teens in the same situation. It was messy. It was ugly. But it was brilliantly executed.

I expected The Magician King to continue in that vein…instead, it presented a pretty paint-by-numbers fantasy tale, filled with heroic feats of derring-do, albeit with cynical hipster commentary. It was much more comfortable to read—like slipping on an old pair of sweatpants after wearing too-tight fancy-pants designer jeans all day (ummm…or so I’ve heard, having no direct experience myself with such tomfoolery…ahem). I enjoyed it more than I did The Magicians, but if reading The Magicians was like eating some weird gourmet spiced cinnamon chocolate cardamom kale monkey essence designer gelato (perplexing and memorable and tasty but kind of off-putting), then reading The Magician King was like eating vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup—delicious, but immediately forgotten because you’ve had it many times before and can easily get it again.

So, what did The Magician's Land taste like? For most of the book…cucumbers—that is, not unpleasant, but kind of bland and unremarkable. A nice texture to add to a salad, sure, but certainly not something that you’re going to seek out and crave. The whole Quentin/Plum/suitcase caper seemed like it should have been raucous good times; but, it just felt flat. After the epic build-up of the first two books, watching Quentin putter around Brakebills, deal with his father’s death, and get mixed up in some asshatted talking bird shenanigannery felt anticlimactic. Even Quentin’s showdown with maniacal Smurfette (aka Niffin Alice) felt kind of meh. The best parts of the story took place in Fillory—Eliot and Janet saved the first 75% of the book, and Janet may have emerged as the most compelling character in the series for me.

The way things were going, it was headed toward a 3-star rating. Why, then, does this book get 4 stars?

Two reasons:

1) The Peter Jackson/LoTR Corollary: When you get to the end of a trilogy, and parts of the trilogy have been brilliant, and the overall body of work is impressive, you give the concluding volume a little extra bump to recognize all of that (in this case, let’s call it a half star…in the case of RoTK, that was 5 stars all the way, but that’s neither here nor there; if you want more on my feelings about RoTK, I’ve already babbled on at length about it).

2) The Ending. I’m a complete and total sucker for a happy ending in which characters are redeemed or validated. Gets me every f-ing time. I mean, I’m not so bad as to get all misty-eyed when Rob Schneider gets his act together in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (and yes, I’ve actually seen that happen to someone), but I’m pretty bad. So even though Quentin had his ups-and-downs, even though he was kind of a sad sack, even if he never quite rose to the level of being what his potential suggested he might become, he stepped up for one (albeit time-lapsed millennium-long) brief moment and saved the day before humbly giving up power and stepping aside, George Washington-style (I’m a sucker for that, too). And that’s worth a half star in my book (or, in this case, in Mr. Grossman’s book).

Hence, 4 stars. All in all, a series well worth reading.
Profile Image for Madeline.
766 reviews46.9k followers
May 24, 2016
By now, I know what to expect when I start a book in Lev Grossman's The Magicians trilogy. There will be extensive, immersive world-building (Grossman is at his best when he is taking genuine joy from creating his own Narnia- or Hogwarts-like world, rather than trying to smugly point out all of their respective flaws), Quentin will stay just on the bearable side of utterly insufferable, there will be at least one character who I wish had an entire book of their own, and the last hundred pages of the novel will be so brutally unrelenting that it'll make me want to go back to bed and re-read the Narnia books to remind myself that fantasy stories that are more pretty than painful still exist.

But The Magician's Land is different. The final hundred-ish pages of the book are not good-painful, they're just painful - in short, this book is less thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another, and more like a hundred pages of Lev Grossman smacking me with my own hands while jeering, "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!"

The book, as a whole, isn't bad. The world-building is still rock solid and fascinating, and I love that Grossman is still creating new things for me to discovery in Fillory. The story also benefits by moving the timeline forward, and setting this book about six years after the events of The Magician King. So now, instead of dealing with whiny, entitled twenty-somethings, our characters are world-weary almost-thirty-year-olds who are finally, FINALLY figuring out how to be grownups.

Quentin, after being kicked out of Fillory at the end of the second book, has mostly spent his time since then just bumming around, until he gets an offer to return to Brakebills - this time as a teacher. While there, two important events happen: Quentin runs into Alice, who we last saw turning into a niffin at the end of Book One; and Quentin is contacted by a group recruiting magicians to steal a mysterious magical objects. Meanwhile, Eliot and Janet are still kicking around Fillory, fully settled into their roles as king and queen, when they receive disturbing news: Fillory is dying.

Like I said, most of this book is actually very, very good. I especially loved Eliot and Janet's sections, first because I will never, ever tire of the "modern young adults react to old-school fantasy setting" schtick, and Janet and Eliot are a perfect blend of snarky can-you-believe-this-shit and genuine, unashamed love of Fillory and its magic. I especially loved Janet, who after two books of being little more than a token mean girl and a contrived wedge between Quentin and Alice, finally gets her due. The little bits we learn about what Janet has been doing between the second and third books is fascinating, and I would honestly re-read the entire Magicians series if it was rewritten from Janet's perspective. She's brave, funny, tough as nails, and takes absolutely no shit from anyone - whether they're Quentin "never was there a tale of more woe" Coldwater, or a giant magic snapping turtle. Her best line, when Eliot is trying to brainstorm ways to save Fillory: "We could put on a show! We could use the old barn!"

So yeah - lots to like here, if I'm being honest with myself, and plenty of other reviewers have spent time praising these elements. Go read their reviews if you want to hear how The Magician's Land is brilliant; I'll probably agree with most of their points. So without further ado, here's what made me furious about this book. It essentially boils down to three points.

One: Grossman is doing a lot of telling and very little showing when it comes to Quentin's development as a character.

To hear Grossman tell it, Quentin is a completely different person than he was in Book One. Grossman is correct, to a point: Quentin is no longer an entitled little shit who believes that if one world isn't up to his standards, the universe should oblige by creating another one for him (this is, in fact, exactly what happens at the end of the series, but I guess it doesn't count because Quentin didn't explicitly demand it, or some bullshit like that), and he sees people as they really are, not as characters who must fit into his personal narrative in a specific way. But Grossman is just so insistent about how much Quentin has grown as a person, telling us every few chapters that "Quentin had changed so much" or "Quentin was a different person now" and it felt like he realized that Quentin wasn't actually that different from the kid we met in Book One, and had to overcompensate. Also, certain events in the story are given much more weight than they deserve. The death of Quentin's father is portrayed as a massive, earth-shattering event that permanently changes Quentin, but since his father was never even a real character in the story, his death had no real weight for me, no matter how many times Grossman insists that it did (and oh, does he insist). Also, remember Professor Mayakovsky, of Brakebills South? We revisit him in this book, and he's suddenly recast as a wise father figure for Quentin. Is Quentin merely latching on to the nearest male authority figure as a way to cope with his father's death? Probably, but Grossman isn't interested in exploring this idea, and Mayakovsky remains in the role Quentin has assigned him. How nice.

Two: Alice and Julia, the two biggest skeletons in Quentin's emotional closet, are never treated as well as they deserve by Quentin or the narrative.

First, Alice. She turned into a niffin at the end of Book One to save Quentin and the others, and when Quentin encounters her again in Book Three, he decides he's going to save her. When he does, newly-human Alice is understandably furious with him - there's a much-quoted passage where she rips him a much-earned new one, but I can't be bothered to find it now. Rest assured that Alice is full of righteous fury, and every ounce of it is absolutely deserved. And then it's all dropped completely, and Quentin and Alice have sex and skip off to save Fillory together. Grossman doesn't go quite so far as to make Alice get back together with Quentin at the end, but it's clear that he believes everything is cool between them now. NO. I love angry Alice most of all, and Grossman robbed her of any real closure in favor of showing Quentin, the once and future king of Fillory, saving the day and (basically) getting the girl once again. Alice's rage, ultimately, doesn't matter, and Grossman kind of makes it seem like this rage is merely a side effect of her experiences as a niffin, rather than her own feelings.

Julia isn't treated quite as badly, but like Alice, she deserved more closure with Quentin than she got. Grossman never really stops the explore the fact that both of these women were essentially destroyed as a direct result of Quentin's actions, and he never has to answer for that.

Three: Grossman has gotten so caught up in the fun of creating a fantasy adventure, he forgot what he was trying to say in the first place.

The Magicians was presented as a response to the Harry Potter and Narnia books - an unflinching, realistic portrayal of how those idealized magical worlds would really function, and reveal the cracks in their perfect facades. Lev Grossman gave an interview once (which of course I can't find now) where he says that one of the points of The Magicians is that nobody actually gets to be the Chosen One - Quentin, ultimately, is just a guy who stumbled into a magical world. He isn't special, because in real life, nobody is special. No one is chosen.

So what happens at the end of The Magician's Land? Quentin saves all of Fillory by pulling a sword out of midair, kills not one but two gods, then becomes a god himself and remakes Fillory, and he does such a good job that he eliminates the need for gods in Fillory. He gets rid of the godlike powers once his work is done, because he's just so damn noble, and the day is saved and everyone cheers.

So in the end, Lev Grossman has written the exact same kind of book that he tried to debunk: a very special schoolboy travels to a magical land and becomes its king, then its savior, and all is well. What was the point of all that cynicism, all that fucking smugness from Grossman, if this was the book he was writing all along? Like, Jesus, dude, it's okay to say that you genuinely like the Narnia books. Adding darkness and death doesn't make your book smarter, or more mature. And deconstructing tropes and archetypes doesn't mean shit if you're just going to indulge yourself in all of them in the end.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,505 reviews737 followers
December 19, 2022
The Magicians #3: Quentin is on the outs and is back on Earth, he has nowhere to go, so thus has only one place to go, back to Brakebills! An almost fitting end to this absorbingly original trilogy as are cast slowly begins to realise how much is at stake this time round, and that maybe all of them are needed to save the world... all of them! Another almost rambling read as I have to follow characters on Earth and in Fillory has they head towards what might be the same goal. If anything, the more 'normal' fantasy elements of this final book (alongside the booze, swearing and bonkingI is what makes it the weakest in the trilogy - but I won't let that take anything away this outrageous and enjoyable reality that Grossman created. A 7 out of 12, Three Star read.

Just for the record, I read all three books in the trilogy in under 20 days because I was dying to watch the TV show, and not because I couldn't wait to read the next book. :)

2021 read
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,864 reviews10.5k followers
December 3, 2015
In the wake of being cast out of Fillory and a short stint as a teacher at Brakebills, Quentin finds himself recruited to be part of a heist to steal a mysterious briefcase for a talking blackbird. Meanwhile, Eliot and Janet find that the magic sustaining Fillory is failing and its up to them to stop it...

I got this from Netgalley.

Well, Goodreads ate the review I spent 20 minutes writing so you're all getting shorter, probably angrier, version. There will be spoilers.

The Magicians series by Lev Grossman has had a special place in my heart for a few years now. The review I wrote for the first book was the one that put me on the map as a reviewer as far as I was concerned, the first one that got more than a fistful of votes. When I got approved for it on Netgalley, I pushed everything aside like vegetables at Chris Farley's house and dove in head first.

The Magician's Land exemplifies what the final book in a trilogy should be. No one is left unchanged. Everyone gets their curtain call. All the questions are answered. We finally get to find out what happened to Alice. Eliot acts like the bad ass king he knows he was born to be. Julia comes back. And Quentin finally becomes a master magician AND an adult instead of a callow complainer.

Much like the previous book, The Magician's Land is told in two threads that eventually converge. Quentin and Plum, the new character who blessedly does not love nor want to sleep with Quentin, take part in the heist and then scour the globe for answers. Eliot and Janet search Fillory for the cause of the breakdown of magic. Things don't converge until around the 70% mark.

One of the things I love about this trilogy is the magic system and Grossman pushes it to its full potential. Is the title a hint? YES! There so much more I want to gush about but I don't want to reveal too many of the nuts and bolts of the story.

I liked this book quite a bit but I wanted to love the shit out of it. I thought the ending was rushed. In fact, I saw I was at the 92% mark and thought "Isn't this the final book? Shouldn't he be wrapping this shit up?" The bit was Asmo at the end felt like Grossman didn't have any ideas for the knife in the briefcase and only remembered it at the end. I also thought Penny and the Order's role in things could have been expanded. Those were pretty minor gripes, though.

Lev Grossman's deconstruction of Harry Potter wrapped in a Narnia tortilla has come a long way since being conceived as an examination of the fantasy genre. Instead, it has become more imaginative than most fantasy books on the racks and gives a glimpse of the genre's potential if more writers will dare leave the confines of the Tolkien-via-Dungeons-&-Dragons box they've been shoehorned into. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,792 reviews69k followers
August 28, 2022
Warning: Mild (ish) spoilers for the first 2 books

I like the way Grossman tells stories. I mean, none of the books in this trilogy are told in the same way, which just gave it a little extra sumpin-sumpin, in my opinion.
In the first one, everything plods along in this somewhat linear way with Quentin first discovering magic is real, moving through his education at the magical Brakebills, then finding out Fillory is real, which leads to losing everything and giving up magic, and finally (in a cliffhanger twist) becoming a king in that magical land.
Hogwarts, then Narnia, then home, the Narnia again?
I mean, it's all over the place!


In the second book, it's mainly a Fillory adventure story. Sure, some of it happens on Earth, but the core of the plot is finding the key to a special place in Fillory, and saving all magic. But what makes this one special is the way Julia retells her story. Told in flashbacks from her point of view, you find out what she went through while the rest of the cast of characters were farting around in school or traipsing through the Neitherlands.


And this last book?
The first bit of the book is told by flashing back and forth between the past and the present, the rest is linear (but split between several characters) and, towards the end, an important chunk of the story is told through the diary entry of a long-dead character.
Maybe it was just me, but I liked that Grossman didn't use the same formula every time.


Ok. I'm not going to give any spoilers, but I will say that I really enjoyed the conclusion to this trilogy. Quite a few things happened that caught me off guard (in a good way!), the addition of Plum was a nice bonus, and getting a peek into some of the other characters' psyche was a lot of fun!
But one of the best things about this last book was seeing how much Quentin had grown up. No, he wasn't perfect, but he was definitely more mature and less of an ass.
Oh, and speaking of Quentin being an ass?
There was that one character I had been dying to find out about, and (thankfully) The Magician's Land didn't let me down!


So, how does it all end? Well, I can't really tell you without ruining it, but I will say I was satisfied with the way it all turned out.



Also, if you are a fan of the Syfy show, don't go into this expecting it to be anything like what you're used to seeing. I'm not a rabid fan who's seen a lot of it, but I can tell you from the few episodes I've watched this is not like what's on tv. I don't think that's a bad thing, but several of the characters have been changed quite a bit from the book (although I like the way they were changed), and it looks like there might be some characters who aren't even in the books. Again, not a bad thing. Just go into it knowing that you're getting a different story.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,620 reviews4,960 followers
March 2, 2016
so I'll just get this out of the way: the almost entirely shitty and stupid SyFy network adaptation of this series has certainly made me better appreciate Grossman's mastery of storytelling and the uniqueness of his vision. ugh, that show. it is doing everything wrong! except for those two short scenes featuring the Beast.


I think what often gets ignored in the rush to discuss Grossman's snarky repositioning of Harry Potter and Narnia-esque tropes and images into a poison pen letter sent from and to members of the Less Than Zero generation is this basic fact: Grossman's imagination is wondrous. he is at his absolute best when he lets all of the angsty nonsense go and indulges himself in fantastic flights of fancy, wonder, and terror. the depth, breadth, and quirkiness of his imagination are his greatest strengths.

the transformation into whales, and what that felt like, was amazing to read. the magical heist, as drawn-out as it was, was huge amounts of fun - the planning of it all was suspenseful and absorbing and the pacing and visual qualities of the heist itself really popped. various vistas within magical Fillory were described with phenomenal skill using imagery that will stay with me. Eliot's amusingly one-sided battle was splendid and genuinely funny, without that spiteful edge that often sours Grossman's sense of humor. the dark castle and the "other room" and its mirror worlds were all fascinatingly sinister, as were the appearances of scary niffin-Alice. most surprisingly, Janet's tale of her sojourn into the desert and what she found there completely revitalized a character who spent the last two books being a cardboard female version of Grossman himself.

all of those things made me love the book. alas, they are not what the book is really about...
This was a double game: he was trying to save his childhood, to preserve it and trap it in amber, but to do that he was calling on things that partook of the world beyond childhood, whose touch would leave him even less innocent than he already was
and then there's that. per various passages from the book, as well as explicit commentary from interviews with the author, the whole point of this trilogy is apparently to be a vehicle for Grossman to exorcise his issues with the fantasy genre and *snore* sorry, what was I saying again?

I am happy at least that Grossman managed to limit his more frustrating tendencies towards flip sarcasm and juvenile nihilism. maybe he's warmed up, maybe he's learned to accept himself and his own loves a bit more? I dunno and I don't care. it's still present occasionally, this insertion of Grossman's own voice in ways that really interfere with the characterization and the mood and the story itself. at times he sounds just like an immature teenager who lives in his parents' basement and is addicted to Twitter and Snapchat and phrases like "I heart [this or that]" - and that is really not a good look for an author who is actually one year older than my 45 years. that cheap snottiness lessened the enjoyment considerably and instantly dated the material. fortunately that tendency doesn't rear its ugly head too often.

and all of this angst does actually lead to a place that felt shockingly sweet and uplifting: . good job, Grossman. you turned an exorcism into a support group and you turned shallow snark into something meaningful. that sounds like growing up to me.
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews913 followers
January 10, 2018
What an excellent conclusion to a fabulous series!!

There is so much to appreciate here across all three books. This final installment came out a nose head of the others because the conclusion was lovely & terrible & extremely fitting.

It's so weird to me that I actually came to love & appreciate all of these characters to this extent. They are irresistible in their own defective sort of way.

To put it frankly, they're a bunch of elitist asshats, flawed to the bone, and it's arguable that none of them deserve to be considered heroes.

But the growth & developments each of them experience is so satisfying.

Grossman has unleashed into this world a tale so clever that I'm left wondering at the skill it must've taken to walk this line.

Coming up with a story like this is one thing, but executing it properly & consistently on every front is a separate feat, and one that Grossman has conquered masterfully.

I've said it now in all three of my reviews, but this is definitely not a series everyone will be able to accept.

Its individual components of cynicism can be difficult to reconcile with the obvious parallels to well-loved series that make up a foundation in fantasy for a lot of us. On top of that, not everyone is excited by the prospect of their ideals about magic torn up by the roots.

It feels like one of those situations in high school where everyone is forced to read a literary classic, and by the end half the class is head over heels in love while the other half is wondering why such a book even exists.

However, I have truly enjoyed every moment I've spent reading this series. The conclusion is subtle, and it's easy to miss the point if you aren't paying attention. Superb characterization, writing, and storytelling. I'm not sure what more I could've asked for in a final book.

This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
Profile Image for seak.
429 reviews475 followers
January 14, 2020
Growing up, we didn't have lots of money and my dad took off with most of what we did have anyway, but I was always told to do well in school, so I did. I was told, "go to college," so I did. (In fact, it was more assumed than outright spoken to be honest). Once I'd made the mistake of majoring in social science (Economics!), the only solution was more school!

So I went on to law school.

After three miserable years in a system that only rewards the "top 10", I graduated ...

And then what? Then the real world hit. After continually excelling for the most part (law school was the only real blow to that thinking), I was tossed out into the cold, cruel world.

I used to have a plan. School! That was about it. I always knew it was a means to an end (work), but that notion gets befuddled somewhere about 15 years in. It's hard to look past the graduation, which for some reason is something to look forward to.

But it's a tough realization. Especially when you graduate, only to have to study for the hardest test of your life (bar exam) and still have zero job prospects.

This is all to say that what I'm comparing is Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia to Grossman's Magicians trilogy. Narnia is the bliss and Magicians is the reality. What happens to those kids after they can no longer go back to the magical land? Depression? Isolation?

What happens when Harry comes to the realization that his parents were killed and a diabolical madman did everything in his power to kill him. What does that do to a person? Does it make them a well-adjusted person? What if that person isn't strong enough to deal with it?

And yet somehow, Grossman doesn't make this trilogy as dark and depressing a slog as I'm making it sound like. I couldn't put any of these books down. I read my eyes out in each one, The Magician's Land no less.

In The Magician's Land, the conclusion to the Magicians trilogy, Quentin has been summarily kicked out of Fillory. His blissful existence has been brought up short and he has to pick up the pieces and face reality.

Grossman plays with the idea of Quentin being something great, but is he really?

So he goes back to Brakebills, which only works for a time. he also finds himself involved in a plot to steal a briefcase for some extra cash and now we see what a low point Quentin has found himself in.

The Magician's Land also looks at Fillory, from the perspectives of Eliot and Janet, two of the four kings and queens of Fillory. I fear I'll spoil to much going into their parts, but suffice it to say, they are just as entertaining in their questing as Quentin's part in finding his own place in the world.

I'm not exactly sure why I love this trilogy so much. I remarked the other day that it must say a lot about me, and not much in a good sense. I mean, these are some of the most self-absorbed, pedantic (which after this much schooling I should hate right?) jerks, and I couldn't get enough.

But I think I love this series because of the magic along with the realism. I hope I don't spoil too much by saying these characters actually grow quite a bit. They grow leaps and bounds and it's very much in character and I'm so glad they do.

I love this series because I want to go back to Narnia and this was a way to do so once more. Grossman's clever magic is only extended in The Magician's Land as he explains even more magical beasts and the sloths!

Here's a favorite quote about the sloths, very much a spoiler:

I have to say, I thought the ending was both satisfying and a little frustrating. It fit perfectly with the story and I have to admit I had a feeling it would go the way it did, however I'll discuss this through spoilers yet again.

The Magicians trilogy is quite possibly my favorite series of recent years. I devoured these books like a drug addict and now I'm wanting. I was a little disappointed that the short stories contained in the Dangerous Women and Unfettered anthologies are actually just pulled out of this book, The Magician's Land. I needs my crack!

Grossman has set out to turn tropes on their heads and he has done so in the most entertaining way possible. The hero saves the day, the damsel in distress is rescued, the dark lord is defeated ... your education is over ... but what happens after can be just as captivating.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
October 3, 2016
”Eliot felt very small and Fillory felt for a change, very big and very wild around him. It was a while since it had felt like that. This was a serious quest, maybe the last one. What happened now truly mattered. Eliot had struggled before he found Fillory, he knew that: he drank too much, he found clever ways to be nasty to people, he never seemed to have an emotion that wasn’t either ironic or chemically generated. He’d changed in Fillory, and the thought of going back to that, of becoming that person again, frightened him. He wouldn’t die with Fillory, he’d meant that when he said it, but if Fillory died Eliot knew that something in him, something small but essential, wouldn’t survive either.”

 photo Fillory_zpsb208ee59.jpg
Map of Fillory.

Eliot is not wired to be a nice person. He is immature, too intelligent, a stimulus junky, sarcastic, wickedly funny, but only really dangerous when he is bored. He is the High King of Fillory, a magical world that he and a handful of other followers discovered. The rules fit them like a glove. By just arriving they become Kings and Queens. If only Earth had recognized them in the same way. Fillory, like the books that inspired it, is about quests. By book three Eliot has settled into his role and knows that quests are essential not only to give his overheated brain something to ponder, but also something to shake him out of the funk of contentment. It is also important for him to vanquish foes, solve puzzles, save the world etc. just so the heralds have something to say beyond: The Good King Eliot kept the peace.

Thank goodness a tribe called the Lorians, Vikingesque, primitive people, try to invade Fillory. After defeated them and pushing them back Eliot decides to fight their champion, not because it is necessary, but because he wants to add another notch to the legacy of his rule.

”Vile Father’s brown nipples, on the ends of his pendulous man-cans, were like dried figs. He had no scars at all on his smooth skin, which somehow was scarier than if he were all messed up.”

Vile Father, interesting name, vile indeed.

Eliot doesn’t, of course, play fair, that would be ridiculous, he amps up his strength, speed, and power through magic. Otherwise, the diminutive, nasty little Viking would have kicked his privileged ass back to Castle Whitespire.

As it turns out this little dustup with the Lorians is only a distraction from a much larger problem. Fillory, though saved so magnificently in book two, is yet again in jeopardy of coming apart at the seams.

 photo Magiciansclockbuttons_zpsc6984c1c.jpg
Time is running out for Fillory. The Prodigal Son Quentin will have to return.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, or really at Brakebills College resides our hapless hero from the first two books... Quentin Coldwater. After unceremoniously being ejected from Fillory in book two he has washed up on the green grass of Brakebills College. They welcome him with open arms despite the less than amicable parting that happened last time he was there. They even give him a job teaching. He is excited when they decide to test him once more for his best magical skill. The last test had been inconclusive leaving him directionless for concentrating on and developing his most natural ability. It sort of reminds me of those tests that are supposed to tell us what we are supposed to do for a living. I always ended up with no specifics, balanced, and with a counselor bouncing like a yippy, hyperactive, chihuahua telling me that I could do anything I wanted to do.

”It was a bit of an anticlimax. You couldn’t call it sexy, exactly. Not breaking new ground, so much. He wouldn’t be striding between dimensions, or calling down thunderbolts, or manifesting patroni, not on the strength of repair of small objects. Life was briskly and efficiently stripping Quentin of his last delusions about himself, one by one, shucking them off in firm hard jerks like wet clothes, leaving him naked and shivering.”

Self-delusions are hard to maintain under the best of conditions, but poor Quentin keeps having life greet him with a resounding slap across the face, followed by a knee to the groin, and a finishing, stinging, karate chop to the back of the neck leaving him stunned, vulnerable, but very much alive so that he doesn’t miss the rest of the... pain...of living.

He gets banished from Brakebills. Quentin’s life is one long series of being 86’d. He seems to always be in the mix of whatever is going wrong and this was no exception. In his defense he was trying to save the life of a student, Plum. As it turns out she is the last living descendant of the original Fillory discovering Chatwin children.

So it was meant to be...right?

Quentin is low on funds and needs a pile of cabbage if he is going to pull off what he NEEDS to do next. It is two fold really, one becomes meshed with the other. If he can’t return to Fillory and he can’t be at Brakebills well then he would…I need to pause for a moment. Most people when they want to tell the world to go screw themselves, buy a cabin in the woods. Too mundane for Quentin. ...create his own world.

”The air was thick with the smell of burning metal and the sweat of tired magicians. She could sense it in the room with them now, the land itself: an angry, hungry, thirsty infant thing demanding life, ready to take it from them if it had to. It cried out with an almost human voice.”

Of course one might think that by creating your own world that there would be no way, no how, that anyone could kick you out of your own creation. By definition you are GOD. That should be true, but one should keep in mind the Steve Jobs rule.

I did say there were two problems that Quentin needed to rectify. The second part is that Quentin has discovered that his girlfriend is a demon. Well they were on the outs when she perished in the great fight in book one, but still nothing like dying young and having people pining for what would have been.

I have one, well maybe two, demon ex-girlfriends, but unlike Quentin I’m not willing to expend any amount of energy, magic, in trying to humanize them. So what is it like being a demon...erhhh…Alice?

”Imagine knowing, always and forever, that you are right, and that everyone and everything else is wrong”

Just as I suspected!

They are beautiful creatures, these demons that haunt Quentin and I.

”Her expression when she focused on him, was black. She was angry, a wasp who’d been trapped in a jar and then shaken, and she was ready to sting. She was the most beautiful, terrible thing he’d ever seen, like an acetylene flame, an incandescent filament, a fallen star right in front of him.”

I’ve seen that look.

The need for cash forces Quentin to attend a clandestine meeting in a bookstore, with an annoying talking crow, and a group of cast off magicians. Quentin’s days of looking down his nose at anyone are dust in the rearview mirror. This is a heist along the lines of with everyone bringing a necessary specialized skill to the table.

Speaking of books, they litter the landscape of all three novels. Magic and books twine together still showing the power of words on paper/parchment/vellum and the strength of words spoken in the proper order.

”She would have known it was a library with her eyes shut: the hush of it was enough, like a velvet nest in which she’d been carefully nestled, and the smell, the heavy spicy aroma of slowly, imperceptibly decomposing leather and paper, of hundreds of tons of dry ink. Every square foot of the walls was bookshelves, and every foot of every shelf was full. Creamy spines, leather spines, knobby and ribbed spines, jacketed and bar, gilded and plain, blank spines and spines crammed with text and ornament. Some were as thin as magazines, some were wider than they were tall.”

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A book orgy has broke out on this poor young woman’s back!

A flying books experiment at Brakebills went very wrong. With these animated books going beyond the bounds of the spell and actually...having sex.

”Which sounds interesting, but so far the resulting offspring had been either predictably derivative (in fiction) or stunningly boring (nonfiction); hybrid pairings between fiction and nonfiction were the most vital. The librarian thought the problem was just that the right books weren’t breeding with each other and proposed a forced mating problem. The library committee had an epic secret meeting about the ethics of literary eugenics which ended in a furious deadlock.”

I say let them breed and damn the consequences.

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Lev Grossman has magically lost all of his hair while writing this trilogy.

I must say I appreciate Lev Grossman bringing forth the growing number of Jeff Goldblum obsessives out of the closet. I wouldn’t call myself an obsessive, but I have a strange attraction to his movies. It is a similar problem that I have with the characters of this trilogy. They are not likable; and yet, completely compelling for me. I couldn’t put any of these books down except when drooping eyelids or real life events offered interference. After a magnificent ending to book two this book felt like the trilogy was wrapping up with a whimper instead of a roar. When I was mentally recapping the book and all that I experienced in it’s pages I realized that there was a lot of A game in this book as well. We learn a lot of back stories that filled in some gaps. We also learn more about the writer of the Fillory tales, Christopher Plover. He proves the point that the one who writes down the memories is the one that controls the history.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for Kemper.
1,388 reviews6,657 followers
September 30, 2014
For being a genre-fusing deconstruction of the fantasy novel, this sure had me on the edge on my seat.

It all started with teenage Quentin Coldwater attending a magical school, finding out the fantasy land from his favorite novels was real and then journeying there. Following various quests and a whole lotta heartbreak, Quentin is back in the real world and gives himself a very personal mission to complete even while his friends back in Fillory learn that the end of that world is very nigh.

Quentin has been a Rorschach test of a character since the beginning. Is he a spoiled ass who can never be happy or appreciate the amazing opportunity he has? Or maybe he’s a dreamer so sensitive to all the ways that the world and people in it fail us that he can’t help but constantly look for someplace better? Or is he a potential hero tripped up by the expectations that his fantasy nerdom have instilled him with?

There’s some truth in all of those and no shortage of readers who couldn’t stand Quentin or his friends. I had problems with him, too, particularly in the first half of the second book where it seemed that Quentin had regressed, and I would dearly have loved to give him a slap to the back of the head.

However, I always had the feeling that Lev Grossman was taking us somewhere with Quentin, and that I couldn’t really know the guy until I knew how he turned out in the end. Here’s where that belief paid off for me with Quentin, now 30 years old, finally acting like an adult, and there’s some genuine sadness in the idea that Quentin may have finally outgrown his childish things.

While he’s more mature, he’s still a magician and one thing Quentin hasn’t lost is the wonder and possibilities of the fantastic. Now it’s just tempered with the realism of a guy who is a crusty veteran of many battles and seasoned interdimensional traveler. Grossman also shifts perspective to several other supporting characters in a variety of circumstances from an attempt to steal a magically protected object to witnessing a final apocalyptic battle in a world tearing itself apart.

The other characters have gone through similar arcs so that they seem less like hipsters tossing around ironic comments about being in a fantasy story and more like magicians fighting for things they care about who are still capable of throwing out some one-liners about being in a fantasy story.

This final book in the trilogy pays off on a lot of levels and manages to wrap up most of the loose ends without seeming so tidy that it came in box with a bow on it. All of it feels rich and detailed, and best of all, it feels like it mattered.

Also posted at Kemper's Book Blog.
Profile Image for Terry .
391 reviews2,137 followers
September 16, 2014
This book was totally not bad. I really enjoyed some parts of this book. Some of the things Grossman was trying to do really came together in this book. There. Did I damn it enough with faint praise? I’m sorry. Kinda. I just really wanted this to be something…else? More? I dunno. I just think Grossman didn’t really deliver what I wanted…though I am totally willing to admit that I am perhaps holding him to unfair expectations. I guess I just wanted a little more bang than whimper in my conclusion to the story of Quentin Coldwater and the Brakebills magicians. Ultimately I think my dissatisfaction came from the fact that Grossman seems to have pulled his punches…and I also noticed some less than satisfactory things from the story as a whole as written in all three books that started to become apparent to me.

First off: I really don’t mind that these characters are in many ways ‘unsympathetic’. A big complaint I see of these books (esp. the first one) is that everyone is kind of an asshole. Yeah. They kind of are, but I’m not bothered by that. They rang true to me and do, for the most part, become less asshole-ish (or at least different kinds of assholes) as the story progresses through the three volumes. I get where they are coming from and why they are such assholes…maybe it’s a generational thing, but I understand these people. They are my assholes.

Secondly: totally not bothered by the obvious dual homage to Harry Potter and Narnia. Grossman wears his influences on his sleeve, but he’s never dishonest or simply slavish about it. Also Brakebills is totally *not* Hogwarts and Fillory is not really Narnia. He’s simply taken the basic ideas those worlds have presented and put a different spin on them. Of course the fact that I was never really invested in either of those worlds as a nerd (neither Potter nor Narnia ever really sparked my inner geekly fire) may mean that I’m willing to cut Grossman more slack than others in this regard.

However, I do think there are some issues with the series as a whole, and this volume in particular, that left me feeling unsatisfied as I turned the final page on the adventures of Quentin and his friends. It’s been awhile since I read the first two volumes of the series, so my analysis on this may be a bit unfair or based on spotty remembering, but in reading _The Magician’s Land_ and trying to look back over the entire series I was struck with the fact that as far as the portrayal of his characters went I really feel that I have been led around by the nose by Grossman. I get the sense that throughout the series I have pictured each character as being a certain kind of person, not so much because that is what I saw in them, but because that’s what Grossman told me they were. One glaring example: it’s constantly being hammered into the reader that Quentin is ‘scary smart’, but you know what? I don’t know if I ever really saw him do anything that would have led me to that conclusion on my own. But, well, he has to be super smart to get into Brakebills, and the narration is constantly telling me how smart he is, ergo Quentin is one smart dude, right? I’m not so sure. There are definitely times, especially in the dialogue, where Grossman allows a character’s personality to shine through without authorial intervention, but I feel like whenever dialogue isn’t involved I end up being told what a character is like instead of simply being shown. Lev, c’mon: show don’t tell, baby! That’s like rule number one, right? I’d be curious to see if this idea holds up on a re-read of the series as a whole, but alas I won’t be getting to that anytime soon. I may be overstating this, but it’s definitely a sense that my reading of this volume, and remembrances of earlier ones, has left me with.

I think another thing that grates for me when it comes to the Magician books is the pairing of ironic detachment in the story with a conflicting desire to be earnest. Maybe it’s a problem with the generation to which Grossman belongs – it’s a generation to which I belong, so I know where he’s coming from, but I find it a bit overdone. Fillory is probably the biggest case in point: Grossman presents it as equal parts ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy world that is the land of heart’s desire and yet it is also epicentre of catastrophe for those that find it that comes to embody all that is wrong with that very desire. It’s a clever dichotomy that is worth exploring, but somehow Grossman just never seems to pull it off. In many ways it seems more like a binary on/off switch in the way he presents it rather than as a complex melding of opposite tendencies that ends up producing a whole other, much more interesting, entity.

Ok and my biggest pet-peeve with the series over all? I just can’t suspend my disbelief about the world of the Magicians. So apparently there are many people with magical talent, dozens of whom (if not more) are taken to Brakebills every year (not to mention the other magical schools mentioned in passing). On top of this are the ‘hedge wizards’ like Julia, members of an occult demimonde who have twigged to the existence of magic and taught themselves how to exploit magic under their own steam. And yet there’s never any peep about these people in the ‘real’ world. To all of us muggles it’s just status quo, but there are thousands of these magic users in the woodwork? What exactly do all of these magicians do with their time? What exactly is the society of magicians like? Do they even have one? It’s never really made fully clear aside from a few references here and there to shadow companies that employ magicians as a front, or magician families living in a state of semi-aristocratic ennui indulging in minor magical hobbies. More tantalizingly there are references to a court of magical law and tales of magicians playing with the stock market or rigging elections to make things turn out the way they want, but these minor glimpses were never really expanded upon to my satisfaction. We never got to *see* any of this stuff, even marginally, it was always referred to obliquely. I mean why hasn’t anyone tried to take over the world? Who would stop them? What would be the consequences? Why do all of these magicians seem so aimless and confused? Why don’t they ever DO anything with their magic?! I mean yeah, I get that Grossman is trying to allegorize the plight of his generation in his characters, but does that mean that every single magician, and there must be a lot of them, are this aimless and uninterested in making their mark on the world? I dunno, kind of a geeky rant I guess, but it just struck me that I can’t really believe in the world Grossman has created because he hasn’t given me any concrete reasons for how it could be exactly the same as ours in appearance and yet have all of these apparently idle magicians in the background.

In this volume in particular we see Quentin, newly kicked out of his dream world of Fillory, much more together than we’ve ever seen him before. He certainly seems better able to deal with adversity, though he does still seem, at the ripe old age of 30, to have not quite reached his quota of maturity. Is this what my generation is really like? Is this extended adolescence really so common? Sheesh, maybe so. Talk about a lost generation. Maybe it’s the resemblances that I see between myself and Quentin that make him such a frustrating character for me. In which case: kudos Mr. Grossman! Still: Quentin does often seem to be a bit of a cypher throughout this book. He does what he has to, when it has to be done, because the plot says so, but I’m not sure if everything he does really feels organic to me. I mean I can kind of see why he does what he does, but it sometimes feels like he’s following the plot coupons, not reacting like a normal person. It was nice to get to see him from the outside sometimes, as Plum’s point of view let us see him through eyes other than his own, but I still felt like he was a bit too amorphous to hold the place of hero in the series. I never really got a handle on who Quentin is, and maybe that’s because he never really got a handle on that himself, but I really would have liked a bit more to grab onto. Much the same can be said for the other characters: they played their roles admirably, and I know who/what they are meant to be, but I never quite got inside their heads enough, they never quite developed into real people for me. Sure they had a certain amount of complexity, but it still felt more like a given character type was having a few tags hung onto them to round them out…I just wanted more: or maybe less, perhaps if Grossman had fewer characters to concentrate on he would have been better able to realize them in a more effective way. I would point to the way Grossman developed Julia in book two as the exact opposite of this. I think that may be, for me, the very best writing Grossman has ever done. I really felt for Julia. I got to see who she was in a real and visceral way. I saw her conflicts, triumphs and tragedies from ground zero and they were truly compelling. Give me that for the others, man!

Then there is the climax. In a word: it was way too easy. Grossman is obviously trying to tie up any loose ends he sees in the series, but it sometimes seems a bit too neat. I am spoiler marking the details for those who have not yet read the book:

So okay I’ve been really harshing on this book, but I still do think it’s totally worth your time if you’ve read the other books in the series. I see many other glowing reviews of this book, and maybe I’m just missing something obvious or being way too unforgiving. I guess I just liked the idea of what Grossman was doing so much that I really wanted a bit more than I feel he delivered. There were still some pretty great parts to the book, though. The magical transformation of Quentin and Plum into whales was great (Grossman seems to do a really good job at these transformation elements in his stories, I remember really liking the ones from the first book as well) and hinted at magical facets to our world that were tantalizing in their obscurity. I also enjoyed Quentin’s visit with Mayakovsky, that tragic master magician at Brakebills South. There was an interesting side story told in flashback about Janet that I quite liked as well, though I think he was maybe trying too hard to recapture his excellent work in Julia’s backstory from volume two and didn’t quite succeed on the same level. I guess I just didn’t think everything fully gelled together in the end. Or maybe it gelled together a bit too well. Whatever the case may be: don’t hate me Fillory/Brakebills lovers…I’m one of you, I just wanted more!
Profile Image for Choko.
1,169 reviews2,568 followers
July 21, 2017
*** 4 ***

A buddy read with the Wednesday UF group...

"..."“It didn’t matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.” ..."

Isn't that the truth!!! If I ever feel uncomfortable in a strange place, as long as I see books around I know I will be OK:):):)

If one thing is true about this series it is that the writing is flawless! Nothing is to much or to little. The characters are exactly as the author intended for us to perceive them. Their actions are even more telling than their internal monologues, just as I prefer it. The author has a very clear picture of what he wants to say and has the amazing ability to deliver. If it was only up to technical and plot creation, this book will deserve all the stars possible. However, I had a very subjective issue with it, and it is very much a matter of personal taste. I just didn't like the points he was beating us over the head with. ...

Sure, I see what the author was striving for, but it was way to bleak in a very realistic way, for me to enjoy myself while reading it. And there was almost no humor whatever, which for me is very important in any over the top internalizing and searching for life's meaning premise. There is plenty of irony and some sarcasm, but it felt very unnatural and forced. However, this last book in the series managed to at least end on a hopeful note, if not with a promise of eternal happiness. And just as in all the books there were moments of brilliance as well as moments of depression inducing despair...

"..."“She was too tired to feel anything more, she wanted a book to do to her what books did: take away the world, slide it aside for a little bit, and let her please, please just be somewhere and somebody else” ..."

After almost ditching the series half way through the first book, I am glad I stuck with it. As I have said before, I read in order to escape reality, so The Magicians had way to much of it in its Fantasy for me to ever truly feel comfortable with it...

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
Profile Image for Blaine.
712 reviews574 followers
June 8, 2022
“This is a feeling that you had, Quentin,” she said. “Once, a very long time ago. A rare one. This is how you felt when you were eight years old, and you opened one of the Fillory books for the first time, and you felt awe and joy and hope and longing all at once. You felt them very strongly, Quentin. You dreamed of Fillory then, with a power and an innocence that not many people ever experience. That's where all this began for you. You wanted the world to be better than it was.”
I received an Advance Reading Copy of The Magician’s Land through Goodreads (many thanks!). I loved the first two books in this series, and really looked forward to finding out how the series would end. Of course, looking forward to the end of a series comes with mixed emotions; some books nail the landing, and some disappoint.

There is much to love in The Magician’s Land. I enjoyed seeing how Quentin finished growing as a person. He remains a realistic and vividly drawn character, and his emotional swings, though not as broad in this last book due to his growth, are still moving. I also liked finding out how all of the other characters turned out, and meeting the new character Plum. The plot was solid, and there are scenes (Janet in the desert, Rupert’s journal) that are as emotional as any in the whole series.

But there were some parts of The Magician’s Land that disappointed me. The pacing of the earlier books was pleasantly relaxed; the first third of this one felt slow. There were not as many clever references to pop culture, which I enjoyed in the earlier books. The book lacked a villain like the Beast or the Fox, and so the ending did not pack quite the same punch as the first two. And maybe it’s a product of the times, but I almost felt like there were too many call backs to the characters and plot threads from the earlier books.

The Magician’s Land had a lot to live up to in my mind, and it’s very good. It’s just not quite as good as the first two. I would compare it to Return of the Jedi, which was good but fell short of the greatness of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. But it’s a hell of a lot better than Hannibal, which threatened to diminish the greatness of Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs. Recommended.
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,242 followers
August 14, 2014
This book was really in two parts. The first being a heist plot to recover a briefcase with mysterious contents.

The second is about the death of the magical land, Fillory.

Plot-wise and writing, I really enjoyed this novel. The author has a way of balancing tongue in cheek humor with introspection. You can tell he really thought about the engine of how magic worked in his novels, often borrowing from quantum physics for explanations. But that's only how it works on Earth; in Fillory it's all up for grabs as the world is flat, the moon's physical shape is a crescent, clock pieces appear as natural as any other mineral, and there is a dark world on the underside that mimics it like an evil twin.

The main character of Quentin is both relatable and unlikeable. At the beginning of the series, he's really insufferable but he grows as the books wear on. As much as he changes, there is just something broken about him that even his specialization of minor mendings can't fix. Sure he can cast some wicked magic , but that doesn't change the fact that there is something missing in his humanity. He's almost sociopathic. Part of him just didn't grow up. Despite having white hair, I still see him as Chandler Bing.

With all the sarcasm and plot twists, I was a bit unhappy with the ending. I expected more from the author than to tie it up the way he did. Not that it was bad, but I'm just disappointed that . Maybe I wanted something more cynical than saccharine, more original and gritty as I have come to expect from this writer.

PS: I guess I have this tradition of finding a quote from Lev Grossman's books that I think would be extra hilarious if read by Maya Angelou, and here is my choice for this novel:
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,092 reviews7,954 followers
March 26, 2015
I don't think I have read a series that has as much character development as in The Magicians trilogy. It was such a pleasure going on this journey with Quentin and his friends through these three books. Seeing Quentin grow up in these three books has come at the perfect time in my life. The themes of this book, and its predecessors, are so relevant to my life. Thank you, Lev Grossman, for writing something that resonates so deeply with people who grew up in books, in fantasy worlds, and are off to face the 'real world.'

All I have left to say is that each book is better than the last, and yet I love them all equally for different reasons. I'm sad this is over, but every second was worth it. This is definitely one of my favorite series of all times, and one of my favorite final books in a series.
Profile Image for Tegan.
1,153 reviews96 followers
October 22, 2015
Not gonna lie...this is how I feel about this novel:

12/8/13: I keep looking at this hoping for a definite release date. Alas, nothing yet. But I'll keep on keeping on until then...Now I'm taunted with a cover.

1/9/14: August 5th, 2014 ladies and gentlemen!!! Great early birthday present! Only 7 more months...And we get a summary! Great belated Christmas present :)

8/2/14: AMAZING!!! Review to come ASAP!

10/10/14: Finally, full review is here! Also published at The Founding Fields!

Lady Salvatore got one of her greatest wishes:
an advanced copy of The Magician’s Land,
the final book in a trilogy by Lev Grossman.

“Lev Grossman ties up his spellbinding The Magicians trilogy in a manner worthy of the highest praise!” – Lady Salvatore, The Founding Fields

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman takes place after the surprising events that occurred at the end of its predecessor, The Magician King. This story takes us back to places from both of the first two novels, among them Brakebills, the magical college that Quentin Coldwater (the main character) attended, the college that started it all. We also get to see Fillory again, through the eyes of Eliot and Janet, who are still there ruling as High King and High Queen. This story also follows Quentin into the darker side of magic, only previously seen through Julia’s eyes. The story predominantly takes place in the current timeline, with some history being told through a journal. This truly is a story of finding one’s way, thus giving the reader a feeling of uncertainty and wonder.

This novel takes place around six months after the events in The Magician’s Land. Quentin is no longer the 18-year-old we met in The Magicians. He is 30 and still trying to find his way, which I think speaks to many readers; we are always learning and growing. He has definitely grown from the cynical, angry boy that he was when he first discovered Brakebills. He changes throughout this novel as well, he is able to get past things that were once holding him back and change into the person that he really wants to be. I would be interested to read more about Quentin’s journey in the future (hint, hint Lev Grossman). There is another character that changes quite a bit, but unfortunately I can’t talk about it, unless I give up a large spoiler! We also get introduced to a new, younger character in this novel, Plum, who has a surprising connection to Quentin and his world.

This book definitely hits the ground running. The previous novel has you wondering what was going to happen next and The Magician’s Land jumps right into it. Lev Grossman also jumps back and forth between the setting of Fillory and the real world. He does this with grace and does it in larger pieces, rather than constant back and forth. I got what I was expecting from this novel: a great story with many surprises and a satisfying ending. I was so happy to be back in a world I love with characters that I’ve missed for the past three years.

The Magicians trilogy is probably one of my favorite trilogies. It is a great story of magic and fantasy, but also a story of growing up. Quentin’s adventures and trials shadow much of what it is like to grow up and find yourself. I also enjoy Lev Grossman’s take on magic. It’s not innate or simple, it is hard work. Magic is scientific and messy. It depends on the weather, the person’s emotions, and the time of day. The pop culture references are amazing as well. There are so many little nuances that bring this story to life. Lev Grossman throws some fun things in there, quirks to the land of Fillory and the school of Brakebills that would be endlessly entertaining. One example would be of the books in the library at Brakebills, they start breeding thus creating subgenres. The idea of one of these hybrid books is funny and very interesting. The description of every setting in these novels makes you feel like you are there, with the characters, going on an adventure. Lev Grossman’s world building is fantastic. I cannot say enough about these books, I highly recommend them to anyone.

Lev Grossman is the author of The Magicians trilogy, as well as two standalone novels: Codex and Warp. He has also written for Time magazine. He is on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter (@leverus). His favorite magical land to live in would not be one from his books, but Narnia. You can find his novels at any major book retailer or your local library.

I would like to thank Viking for sending me an advanced copy of this novel. I have been eagerly awaiting this since I closed The Magician King. I cannot tell you how excited I was to receive it in the mail. I hope this review brings many more readers to the wonderful world Lev Grossman has created.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,851 followers
July 14, 2015
Strangely enough, I worked through all of my reservations from the previous two books, having liked the first book well enough, and on reflection liking the second one much less, I discovered that passing the hump of the heist in the third allowed me to finally relax into the story after finally realizing that Quentin wasn't going to remain a douchebag forever.

The heist was fine, as far as that went, and his just going along with everything and sliding along with his life was par for course. It wasn't that surprising, but I was rather amused with the situation. I even caught myself reimagining the tale as one of discovery from the side-character's pov as they went about their sneakthievery only to realize that this ponce used to be a king of Fillory. There wasn't too much of that, of course, but it still amused me to think about it.

Later on, during the great hiding, the time wasting, I finally realized that Quentin was actually doing something with his life instead of coasting. From that point forward, I began to root for him. The resulting changes seemed like brief backsliding, but in the end he eventually did the right thing. And then he did the right thing again. And again. I started wondering if I was reading the same set of novels. When did this idiot start growing up?

And then it happened. After slogging through two and half novels of disliking this boy-man, he finally redeemed himself. We finally have a rounded character, and he was good. What a shock.

Getting in on some of the povs of the other superfriends didn't leave me dissatisfied, either. Jane was pretty interesting, and Elliot also had his moments. Penny, well... Penny was Penny. He'll probably remain a dick forever, which is a shame, because I identify more with punks than wastrel spoon-lickers with a mysterious silvery paste on their tongues.

Julia. Out of everyone, I think I'd prefer to have novels devoted to her and her ascension to 3/4ths of godhood. I'm sure there's some pretty good storytelling hidden somewhere in there. After the story of her rise in the second novel, I wanted everything else to follow her about, but it just didn't happen.

C'est la vie.

The only recommendation I can really give for these books is that they all be read in the pure assumption that they are NOT separated by any silly delineation of book-binding. Just assume that all three novels are one ginormous volume meant to explore the ultimate growing up of a douchebag, and you won't go wrong. Then, it becomes rather pleasant. And isn't that what we all really want, in the end?

Happy endings. They exist, even for these books. My relief is palpable. I'm glad I stuck through it all.

Profile Image for Ashley.
2,556 reviews1,631 followers
December 31, 2021
December 2021: Still five stars. Love this book.

September 2015:

"He'd been right about the world, but he was wrong about himself. The world was a desert, but he was a magician, and to be a magician was to be a secret spring - a moving oasis. He wasn't desolate, and he wasn't empty. He was full of emotion, full of feelings, bursting with them, and when it came down to it, that's what being a magician was. They weren't ordinary feelings - they weren't the tame, domesticated kind. Magic was wild feelings, the kind that escaped out of you and into the world and changed things. There was a lot of skill to it, and a lot of learning, and a lot of work, but that was where the power began: the power to enchant the world."

“This is a feeling that you had, Quentin, she said. Once, a very long time ago. A rare one. This is how you felt when you were eight years old, and you opened one of the Fillory books for the first time, and you felt awe and joy and hope and longing all at once. You felt them very strongly, Quentin. You dreamed of Fillory then, with a power and an innocence that not many people ever experience. That's where all this began for you. You wanted the world to be better than it was.”

So . . . this series turned out to be kind of genius. I'm so, so glad I gave it another shot. I would have missed out on what turned out to be, frankly, a very moving reading experience there at the end. In fact, it's like Grossman heard every single one of my complaints from five years ago and addressed them directly. Seeing as how that's both extremely unlikely and pretty narcissistic, I'm thinking what actually happened is that he designed the story to be this way, only you had to be patient enough to see it all the way through. The books are definitely meant to be read together. None of the books make much emotional sense on their own, and that includes the first one. So if you were like me and gave up after that one, I would very much suggest giving it another go.

The Magician's Land picks up after the last book. Quentin has been kicked out of Fillory, and he's actually trying to make a go of it in the real world instead of moping around and feeling sorry for himself about how awful everything is. He ends up back at Brakebills for a while as a Professor, which is where he meets Plum, a thankfully very platonic acquaintance whose fate turns out to be tied up not only with his, but with Fillory's. The plot cycles back and forth between flashbacks to the past six months, trips over to Fillory to check in with Janet and Eliot, and an actual for real crime caper that Quentin and Plum sign up for in the present day that involves stealing a very powerful magical object on behalf of a mysterious benefactor. All the while, it turns out that Fillory has reached the end of its lifespan. Fillory is dying.

It was so much fun watching all of the plot threads from the last two books come together. It was also ridiculously emotionally satisfying. And Grossman is one of those tricksy writers who can also make stories work on multiple levels. You just know he wants you to analyze the shit out of this book. You don't have to, but you can if you want to. It probably also helps that the Narnia books make up a significant portion of my literary childhood, and in many ways these books are Grossman's way of processing his own adult emotions about fantasy stories, and the Narnia books in particular. For me, though, this series turned out to be about what it's like to become an adult, to realize that the best way to live in this world is to try and make it more like you wish it was, like you know it could be. Like Quentin does with magic, Grossman creates worlds with his emotions, with flicks of his fingers, and I'm so glad that he does.

[4.5 stars]
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews520 followers
August 14, 2014
Well that was . . . disappointing. Which is a funny thing to say about a book written as well as this one, and that made me as happy as this one did at certain points (really, I would read hundreds of pages about the magic in this universe and how it works and doesn't, no plot required).

The thing is, this book doubled down. The series as a whole has been playing with coming of age narratives and coming into power narratives, trying out different ones, contrasting them, complicating them. And then this final book just . . . plays it straight. I was worried by the jacket copy which, in my edition, actually says something about "a boy becoming a man." Okay, but not really, I thought, that's just stupid marketing nonsense.

Guys. This book is about a boy becoming a man, and what that means for a boy who loves magic and stories about it. Really. Like, this book actually thinks Quentin is interesting (he is, in flashes, but come on, not really). It is actually invested in Quentin's angst over not being quite as special as he thought he would be. And then it's really interested in having a little interlude about how very special he truly is – no one loves fantasy literature like Quentin, apparently, to the point where the universe takes notice. For real.

Here's the thing. In every book of this trilogy, I found myself thinking at least once, okay, but why aren't we reading a book about her? It's always a her, and she's always interesting as hell, and her story is always more complicated and harrowing and difficult than Quentin's. In the second book, we did actually get to read about her, thank you very much, and it's no coincidence that book is my favorite. In this book, we don't get to read about her. And I would much, much rather have been. Because as this book was winding up, delivering a few thematic statements and the like, I just kept saying, wait, really? You're really . . . going with that? That's what this has all been for? We did all this to talk about the hero's journey of . . . getting over the ennui of being really lucky and privileged?

But as I said to my girlfriend, you can object to a lot of what Grossman is doing, but it's harder to object to how he's doing it. I really would read Grossman on magic for books and books. A sample:

And lately, they'd [books] begun to breed. Shocked undergraduates had stumbled on books in the very act. Which sounded interesting, but so far the resulting offspring had been predictably derivative –in fiction – or stunningly boring – nonfiction. Hybrid pairings between fiction and nonfiction were the most vital. The librarian thought that the problem was just that the right books weren't breeding with each other, and proposed a forced mating program. The library committee had an epic secret meeting about the ethics of literary eugenics, which ended in a furious deadlock.

Profile Image for Warwick.
809 reviews14.4k followers
March 12, 2016
Lev Grossman has said he thinks writers should read their reviews and should take their criticism seriously. I thought that was quite an unusual and telling comment; I kept thinking about it, because the first book in this trilogy did get a lot of criticism about its sexual politics, some of it deserved (the character arcs) and some not (Quentin's teenage personality). Now the concluding instalment completes a process begun in book two of overturning these problems in what looks to me like quite a deliberate, systematic manner.

It's hard to talk about without spoilers, and if you don't want to know anything about books one and two, then you should just stop here, give me a Like on the grounds that the rest of this review is probably brilliant, and move on with your life. But it's interesting to me what happens here and how it relates to the first book, in which Quentin behaved extremely badly in his relationship with Alice – behaviour that I thought was clearly intended by the author to be reprehensible but which nevertheless bothered a lot of reviewers. What Grossman does here is actually to give a voice to Alice's imagined response to all that, and he allows her to express what a lot of readers were screaming at the page when they read book one:

“Remember what a good girl I was? Remember how meek and pleasing I was to everybody? […] That was always part of the problem, Quentin. I felt like I had to be interested in you all the time. You wanted love so desperately, and I thought it was my job to give it to you. Poor little lost boy! That's not love, that's hell.”

Wow. Talk about playing to the gallery: this speech could almost have been compiled from negative reviews of The Magicians. It's not just individual comments, though – the whole structure of the story is rewired, through Grossman's own use (and abuse?) of authorial magic, to rethink the problematic fates of some of his characters. Most obviously, . If you're the writer, you can do this kind of thing. You can do anything you like. It's not a trick that should be overdone, but it worked for me because it cements an association that's been teased out through all these books – the association of magic with fiction.

And everyone has grown up, not just Quentin. The questions I had going in – whatever happened to , who made a brief but decisive appearance in the first book and then was never mentioned again?—And what became of , the only other survivor from the climactic theophany at the end of book two? – are both answered in very satisfying ways. Janet, unexpectedly, has turned into perhaps my favourite character, her delightful bitchiness now balanced by a kind of wisdom and experience. It is too much fun to follow this world through her eyes – when, during the apocalyptic finale, war-horns start sounding from hill to hill, it gets related to us like this:

Who the fuck is playing that shit? Janet thought. How do they even know what notes to play? Probably it was Written somewhere, probably there's always been a big alpenhorn somewhere under glass, with a sign that says In case of Ragnarok break glass and play an E flat.

There's all kind of structural problems with this trilogy, and it is full of bizarre shifts of tone and metafictional throwaways, but god, it's so much fun to just see someone playing with such obvious delight across three books like this. It's an uneven but thoroughly enjoyable trip.
Profile Image for Heather.
319 reviews288 followers
September 22, 2017
5 stars

brilliant and witty writing

the dark side of all your childhood favorite fantasy stories

A wonderful conclusion to this really fantastic series
Profile Image for R.K. Gold.
Author 13 books10.1k followers
January 20, 2018
This was the best book in the series and had some of the most entertaining episodes particularly the briefcase.
What I liked was the solid transformation of Quentin from the first book to the last and the episode between him and Alice.

My biggest complaint is still the characters. Grossman had a chance to make Janet a truly exciting part of the series but after one anecdote her relevance died. Josh and Poppy were useless and served no purpose except offering more bodies, they weren't even likable anymore.
The climax was wrapped up way too easily and neatly. There wasn't much of a struggle everything just sort of fell into place and once Quentin saved the world the group didn't seem to even acknowledge it. I mean he just saved the world they gave up on and they couldn't even thank him?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kenchiin.
258 reviews102 followers
August 17, 2016
I'm not sure if Lev was trying to deconstruct the fantasy genre or life itself, but he accomplished to do both.
Profile Image for Caroline .
407 reviews551 followers
November 21, 2016

Grossman's third and final installment in The Magicians trilogy brings back all the beloved key players from the previous books, plus a few new ones, but probably won't enthrall fans quite as much as they're expecting. The Magician's Land focuses on a thirty-something Quentin Coldwater on a quest to solve a complex mystery with the help of a precocious Brakebills student. Whereas book one focuses primarily on magical school Brakebills and book two on magical land Fillory, this third book has a combined focus. It's an effective way of tying up the series, but much of the time it makes for a frustratingly disjointed narrative with an inconsistent tone.

Each character shares time in the spotlight here, but that does make for a clunky, disruptive narrative. One chapter focuses on events in Quentin's life; the next focuses on Eliot's; the next on another character; and so forth. There's nothing unusual about this kind of format, but it seems it's been done more seamlessly by more experienced authors. The previous two books in this trilogy have a much smoother narrative, and they're stronger because of it.

Grossman's style is all his own, and the very thing that's great about it is also its downfall at times. Something so striking about The Magicians series is Grossman's unique vision. He snatched the stars out of his magicians' eyes, removed all trace of wonderment from the magician archetype, then relayed this in a modern, cynical, “real” voice. This is no J.R.R. Tolkien high fantasy seriousness; Grossman's style jibes perfectly with his special take on magic and magicians.

Disappointingly, that special style tripped him up a bit in this final book. The Magician's Land is told in the third person but shifts very awkwardly when the focus is on a specific character. This is glaring in chapter five, where the focus is on Eliot. Here the narrative shifts into a pseudo-first person. There's a sense Grossman's aim was to give him a very distinct voice, a sort of peek-inside-his-head, but there's a strangeness to it, a flippancy to the prose that lowers the caliber several notches. This also is very much true of the occasional slang and text-speak term such as “squeeing,” “heart” as a verb, “FTW,” and “lulz” in the prose, as opposed to in dialogue; to say those hurt the integrity of his writing is a vast understatement. It's as if Grossman wrote when he was in different moods; at times his prose is just too casual, at others, sophisticated. The story shines when the tone is the latter (though a few humorous asides somehow do work). He is most definitely a gifted writer, but he faltered trying to establish just the right tone, and the story suffers for it, though not so much that it totally fails.

Where The Magician's Land is weakest is actually at the technical level. The punctuation is so terrible that this point can't not be mentioned. It's unusual for a lack of commas to be this widespread, but here, semicolons and a comma following an introductory clause are rare things indeed. To cite just one example of the latter kind of error: “--when magicians played the cards had a way of changing sides...” Even the non-discriminating reader will spot these problems and likely find them grating, at least some of the time.

More than anything, what makes The Magician's Land truly worth reading is its many gripping and visually stunning magic scenes. Really, this is true of the trilogy as a whole. It's in the magical world-building that Grossman shows the full extent of his creative talent, and quite a boundless creative talent that is. Most noticeable and admirable is that all the reader's senses are fully engaged. The magic in this story is very much a palpable one, and it's clear Grossman expended a great deal of creative energy in crafting his magical world from every angle, down to the finer details. In particular, his take on magical spell work is a knock-out; that many spells have a highly complex mathematical foundation is an innovative touch that lends a certain authenticity to the world he created. Perhaps some elements could benefit from a spin-off story that would provide some necessary fleshing out, but what is here as-is dazzles and enchants. Like the world of Harry Potter, the world of Quentin Coldwater will have readers yearning for a portal to transport them there.

Final verdict: A flawed but nonetheless satisfying ending to The Magicians trilogy.
Profile Image for Samantha.
360 reviews37 followers
July 16, 2014
Where to start with this one? So many mixed emotions! After reading the first novel in Grossman's trilogy, The Magicians, I was hooked. Angsty, adult wizard school? Totally into it. However, after struggling through the hot mess that was the series' second book (I literally just made the "ugh" face thinking about it), I was cautious about getting too excited for the third and final part of The Magician's trilogy.

Needless to say, my expectations were met but not totally exceeded. Grossman does a decent job of closing out some plotholes and concludes the story of Quentin and his fellow wizards in a way that is somewhat satisfying, yet not totally fulfilling. I think what really kept me enjoying The Magician's Land was the preceding novel, which as many readers will tell you was not super well-written and went off the deep end in the last third. (Seriously, one of the most disturbing scenes I have ever read.) It left a bad taste, and I was honestly concerned that we were in for round two in The Magician's Land

- Mid-way through the book I paused, and couldn't help but question- does Grossman hate women? Seriously, none of his female characters have anything good going for them, except maybe Betsy. Horrible things happen to most of them (Julia... Alice), leaving them embittered and they are honestly tough to spend time with.
- However, upon reflection, Grossman does not treat ANY of his characters kindly, and they're not the most lovable bunch. In fact, I would argue that they're all pretty horrible people, and maybe that's why I struggle with this series: really liked the first novel, but had no affection for any of the characters past that.
- The mythology does get cleaned up and explained, but there were still a fair number of questions, though honestly I don't feel the burning desire to get answers.
- Writing is OK, better than the 2nd novel but a little to zeitgeist-y... I almost died when the word "LULZ" was used. I wish I was kidding, but that's actually what I saw in print.
- Where Grossman really succeeds is with the beautiful world of Fillory that he has constructed. From the sailing bunnies to the clockwork trees and magical creatures, I almost wish he would spend less time focused on his self-centered characters and more on the wonderful environment that surrounds them.

Overall, a solid end to a series that I have overwhelmingly mixed feelings about. Definitely recommend The Magician's Land if you've made it through the other two, which are musts -- this is not a trilogy you can pick up mid-stream.

Disclaimer: An advanced copy was provided to me for the purpose of review by the publisher.
Profile Image for Rob.
839 reviews534 followers
May 18, 2015
Executive Summary: An excellent, but not perfect end to what ended up being a rather enjoyable series. Just a few minor complaints keep me from giving it a 5 star rating. 4.5 stars.

Audio book: Mark Bramhall again does an excellent job that makes this a series I think is best done in audio. I will have to be on the lookout for other books he reads for in the future.

Full Review
This book almost made it to the end to secure one of my rare 5-star ratings. I always hated to stop listening, and found myself coming up with things to do so I could get in some extra listening time each day.

Unfortunately what seems to be Mr. Grossman's need to remind us that life is never fair and far from perfect at places, that I'm frankly sick of. I read to escape from reality, and while I'm not looking for everything to always work out, the negativity of this series wore on me at points.

Thankfully the amount of it seemed to lessen with each book. I think that largely has to do with Quentin's development. He has gone from a character I was indifferent towards, to one I didn't like, back to largely indifference in the last book, but at this point in the series I found myself finally liking him.

I find it hard to read a book where I don't like at least some of the characters. It's no wonder to me why so many people are turned away from the series by the first book.

The world building and the story is what kept me going until suddenly I realized I had actually become fond of these characters. Who would have guessed that?

This is one of those books that doesn't tie up every loose end. I think this keeps in line with Mr. Grossman's frequent injections of "reality" into the series.

I don't need all the loose ends to be tied up to find an ending satisfying, and this was definitely that for me. I'd love to see more stories in this world. If not with Quentin as his friends, then maybe with other students at Brakebills. Preferably ones I like much sooner.

I found Plumb a nice addition to the series, much as I did Poppy in the last book. It was nice to see that much like the real world, not everyone is so depressed and cynical all the time.

Overall I've found this an enjoyable series, which is likely obvious from how quickly I tore through it. I'm cautiously optimistic about the SyFy adaptation based on early details. Here's to hoping they get to tell the whole story, and maybe some other ones beyond it.
Profile Image for Kandice.
1,497 reviews223 followers
January 9, 2022
All of the stars. All of them. I read the last pages with a tissue and a wet face. Reading this was like catching up with an old friend and trying to draw out the visit. Knowing they will leave in the morning and you may not see each other again. I alternated between wanting to quickly devour this and wanting to savor it. There’s a perfect quote in here, “that was one thing about books, once you read them they couldn’t be unread.” I was so excited to read this, but I just didn’t want to let go. I can never experience this again. Not in that delicious way you devour a story for the first time.

We pick up after Quentin’s banishment from Fillory and his return to earth. Quentin becomes a teacher at Brakebills. That place he couldn’t wait to leave now becomes his temporary home. In fact, that seems to be the point of this book. You CAN go home, but home will be different. Nothing stays the same and we all grow up.

Before Quentin can become a teacher his discipline must be discovered. This scene is genius. Quentin’s first attempt at discovering his discipline was scary and nerve-wracking because he couldn’t really believe he was even a magician at the time, much less have an actual discipline. Now that he knows, in the marrow of his bones that he is magical, the discipline is a formality. It’s the perfect example of what we once were so frightened of becoming just another thing. Like small children being afraid of what’s under the bed, or in the closet, in the dark. That same child as an adult realizes it's just dust bunnies.

He doesn’t stay at Brakebills long, and in his floundering after that appointment, the world conspires to get Quentin back to Fillory. For me, Fillory has always been Quentin’s land, no matter who was technically ruling it. Fillory and Quentin are like peanut butter and chocolate. Better together and because of each other. Quentin may not have made Fillory, but he damn well completes it.

Another stroke of genius on Grossman’s part is Quentin's search for some magical legacy in the wake of his father’s death. He searches and searches his father’s things for this magical inheritance, only to find golf scorecards that he mistakenly believes must be code for something else. In this hope, we are reminded why we love Quentin. Not just because he reminds us of ourselves, in all his stubbornness and selfishness, but more importantly because his thirst for escape and magic is why we read fantasy in the first place. Fantasy gives us hope that there is more to the world than just what everyone can see and that we can be the heroes in our journeys. The book focuses on both the magic and the mundane, and Quentin’s joy in magic, and simultaneous disappointment in reality, oozes off the page.

In this final book, Grossman gives us Quentin’s story as part of a larger whole. The Magicians limited itself to Quentin’s point of view. The Magician King gave us a bit of Julia’s narrative and point of view, and now The Magician's Land gives us many points of view. Quentin has matured and realized he is not the center of the universe, and so too has the narrative. Just as Quentin has matured, so too have Eliot, Janet, Josh, and Poppy. They are no longer the selfish characters that amused us so easily in the first installment. They have become rulers, often putting their kingdom before themselves. But not really. They have become such good leaders that the interests of their land and people ARE their own interests. There is no longer a conflict. Eliot is less selfish, Poppy and Josh have grown up, and Janet, who will always be a snarky bitch, has come into her own. Unapologetically.

We encounter old friends, Alice and Penny. Alice has always been unfinished business for Quentin, and this new man is finally mature enough to make amends. To put himself, his hopes, and his dreams, on the line for more than a depressive wander, but for a purposeful and unselfish reckoning. He has not, until now, been ready to face his part in the past. To accept his blame and make things better.

I love these books. I can see that they will become comfort reads for me and easily be revisited time and time again. I am sure I will not cry as hard through the final pages when I come back to this volume, but I am equally certain I will mourn the end of the tale no matter how many times I reach it. Quentin Coldwater is one of my all-time favorite literary characters and I thank Grossman for him. Harry Potter for adults, sure, but so much more than that.
Profile Image for Michelle Morrell.
1,025 reviews72 followers
February 17, 2016
First read: 2014: Exiled from Fillory, Quentin finds himself searching for purpose.

We see a much more mature Quentin here, one who has definitely come into his own. He's not the only one, Elliot and Janet are fierce defenders of Fillory, realizing their dedication and determination to protect their world once it is threatened, first by invaders and then by news of imminent total destruction. Truly exciting to see the maturation.

The message of disillusionment in childish things, of putting your past behind you and moving forward, of being your own source of strength is strong in this volume, all hard won lessons for Quentin.

Reread 2016: Audiobook, swirling the story in my head three-fold now. Book, tv and audiobook have combined into one glorious lump of story. I still love these stories, now enhanced with a visual overlay from the fantastically cast tv show.
Profile Image for Monica.
387 reviews83 followers
August 4, 2014
This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews: www.avidfantasyreviews.wordpress.com

Grossman’s Magicians trilogy is far different than any other work of modern fantasy I have come across. Grossman’s novels are an intellectual journey into the disillusionment that occurs during the journey to adulthood, and much of the fantasy elements of his novels occur simply to help prove this point to the reader. The first book in particular has a very depressing tone, and is incredibly anticlimactic in comparison to most modern fantasy. I have always admired Grossman as a writer, and respected how deeply thought provoking his novels are, but I have always been a bit disappointed that they were lacking in escapism. Despite some seriously cool magical elements, the first two books in the Magicians trilogy seemed more of a dissertation on disillusionment than fantasy fiction.

After having finally read the concluding installment in the Magicians trilogy, I have truly fallen in love with Grossman’s work. Magicians Land ties the whole series together, and awards the reader with an exemplary modern fantasy. It is not only an extremely intelligent novel, but also an exciting and meaningful story with an intensely emotional plotline. Magicians Land preserves that tiny part of childhood that resides in all lovers of fantasy, and it presents itself to the reader in a novel that is extremely hard to put down.

Magicians Land is the conclusion to Quentin Coldwater’s story, and it starts where The Magician King, the second book in the series, left off. Quentin has been kicked out of Fillory, the magical land he once ruled as a king. For lack of anything better to do, Quentin returns to Brakebills, the place where his magical journey began, as a teacher. Everything seems to be going well for Quentin until he tries to save a student named Plum from one of the ghosts of his past. Suddenly Quentin and Plum (who has a dark secret of her own) are embarking on a journey that will ensure that Quentin faces his past head on. Meanwhile, the friends Quentin left in Fillory are facing their biggest crisis yet: Fillory is dying, and for good this time. As the fate of Earth and Fillory collide, Quentin realizes that all roads lead back to Fillory, and he will have to try and save it one final time.

One of the biggest improvements in this installment of the Magicians trilogy is the addition of a plot with a purpose. The plot lines of the first two novels often seemed aimless, and it is not until this final novel that I really became invested in both the characters and the plot. Quentin was always an extremely well developed character, but not always a very likeable one. Finally Quentin’s complexity makes a turn for the better, and he becomes a protagonist that the reader will truly admire.

I found the ending to this book to be moving, fitting, and fantastic. It is the perfect end to Quentin’s journey, and it made me go back and analyze the other two books in a different light. Fans of the first two books in the Magicians trilogy will most certainly be satisfied with the series’ conclusion, and even those readers that had issues with the first two novels will finally have a novel that satisfies them both intellectually and engagingly. I would recommend this series as a whole to anyone with a love for fantasy that also has a need for a novel to be mentally stimulating. This is not a series that should be read for pure entertainment value, but rather for its seriously fascinating magic and its captivating commentary on the human condition.

I would rate this novel a 9/10.

I received an advance reading copy of this novel from Goodreads and the publisher.
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