Mark Siegel's Reviews > The Magician King

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
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really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy

The second installment in the Magicians trilogy is a weightier affair than the first book, focusing on themes of loss, mental illness, and the mysterious underpinnings of magic. The book spends a lot of time with Julia, a minor character from the first novel who was denied entry to the school for magicians that became home for Quentin and the other main characters. We witness her growing obsession to learn magic by more nontraditional means, as well as the toll it exacts on her mental health.

The book alternates between Julia's story and a more traditional quest-y storyline that you would find in most fantasy novels. The quest seems a bit undercooked, but Grossman's portrayal of Julia is both beautiful and heartbreaking for reasons that become clear in the final pages. The prose can be clever bordering on smug; Grossman wants the reader to know that he is deconstructing the ponderous formalism of the genre and much of his writing is quite funny, but it eventually feels like he's showing off.

I'm tempted to begin the third installment immediately, but I think I'll let this story sit with me for a while before returning to Fillory. In the meantime, I should really check out the Syfy series based on the books.
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Reading Progress

April 16, 2017 – Shelved
April 16, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
February 12, 2018 – Started Reading
February 24, 2018 – Finished Reading
February 25, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Lindsey I agree with this review 110%. I loved this series, but smug is a very apt way to describe many passages. That said, having spent a lot of time reading this genre, some of the sly rancor is deserved.

I really enjoyed Julia being developed as a character. I felt little for her in book 1, and the second book changed that.

The series is great, but departs from the books very quickly. Still a fun watch!


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