Bah Humpug's Reviews > The Magician King

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
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's review
Jan 23, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction-literature

Of course as soon as I read The Magician I had to start reading the sequel, The Magician King (thank goodness I didn't start reading these books until this year). For some reason I have a hard time getting into both of these books but once I reach 1/4 of the way in I can't stop. I thought The Magician King was a fantastic follow-up to The Magicians. I think it suffers from some of the same flaws as the first book, but it improved a lot in other ways and again this book was entertaining and surprising. I was sad to end it! And there better be a third book to follow this one!

The Magician King picks up a little bit after where The Magician left off and soon we find ourselves in the middle of a good old-fashioned quest story. Quentin is forever restless and unsatisfied and I found my old irritation at Quentin starting to bubble up in the beginning of the book. However, that soon went away as I got further into the book and by the end I liked Quentin a lot more in this book than the first one. He was way less annoying here and dare I say he even matured a bit here? The quest itself definitely ripped off a bit of the Narnia book, Voyage of The Dawn Treader, but it was still interesting to read. But seriously couldn't Grossman do a little less ripping off of the Narnia books? Although I guess that's part of the theme of these books and Fillory. Again, Grossman's writing style was fine for the most part, but some of his attempts at more modern dialogue just fell flat with me.

I was surprised to find that my favorite part of this book is the parallel story of what happened with Julia, Quentin's old high school friend/crush who got a glimpse of magic only to be kicked back to the real world. Julia and the others keep hinting at the things she had to go through to get magic, and finally they're going to tell it to us! Only in pieces, every other chapter. I found myself ripping through the questing chapters to find out what happened to Julia (how did she get called to the Brakebills exam?, what happened to her afterwards?, how did she master magic on her own?, why are her powers and spellcasting so different from the Brakebills-educated people?) Unlike Quentin who had this magical world served to him on a silver platter, Julia had to fall as low as she could go and then struggle tooth and nail to learn everything she could get her hands on. While there are two stories that run parallel in this book I thought Grossman did a nice job of switching back and forth between them and tying them together in the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Magician King, probably more so than even The Magicians, and loved the ending even though it also frustrated me. I'll be keeping an eye out for more Grossman books, especially if he writes a follow-up to The Magician King!

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