The Magician King by Lev Grossman

August 9, 2011
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The Magician King
Lev Grossman

Viking Adult
8-9-11
Hardcover/400 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-02231-1

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". . . pure fun."

The amazingly brilliant novel, The Magicians, introduced readers to a truly stunning fairy-tale world, and a boy by the name of Quentin Coldwater. Quentin had always been able to escape the life he hated by opening the pages of the books he so loved and entering the land of Fillory. Upon growing up, he escaped the miserable life he had by passing the exam to get into the secret, exclusive college called Brakebills – a college that taught magic. And, once Quentin had graduated Brakebills, he found out that Fillory actually existed.

Now, he not only finds himself a part of the kingdom, but he, Eliot, Janet, and Julia now serve as the Kings and Queens of the whole darn thing. They live in luxury inside the walls of Castle Whitespire. During the day they rest, relax, get waited on hand and foot, and sometimes go horseback riding. Quentin rides Dauntless – a talking horse with a fantastic personality – and sees the other inhabitants of his kingdom including, talking animals, trees with clocks inside them, A Hare that can see the future, nymphs, dryads – just about anything any fantasy-lover would kill to see.

In Fillory, bad things happen to, which is what the four friends have found out already, but lately their lives have become perfection. Eliot serves as the High King and surrounds himself with gold, jewels, diamonds – anything that’s ‘king-ly.’ Janet is always using her sarcasm, and Julia…well…she’s become extremely quiet and barely speaks a word unless it’s to the talking animals that come seek her out. For Quentin, life has become a bit too simple. He’s chomping at the bit, in fact. Bored of ‘lazing’ around having people wait on him hand and foot, Quentin wants nothing more that to set out on a new adventure. But the only quest that Quentin can find is a mostly made-up one. He is setting sail to the outer reaches of his kingdom – the Outer Island – because they owe back taxes to the crown (which is just a few fish, but Quentin wants to go somewhere.)

The others are not very happy about Quentin’s choice to sail away. In fact, Eliot thinks he should just sit back and enjoy their perfect life, but Quentin won’t be stopped. Having his workers clean-up a ship called the ‘Muntjac,’ Quentin ends up sailing away with his Queen, Julia; a talking sloth; a young man who makes maps; and, a dream. When they reach the Outer Island, what they find is barely nothing. A Customs Officer who is beyond flirty, a young child who is beyond ignored, and a tale about seven golden keys that sends Quentin’s heart racing and his quest into overdrive.

Julia – whose powerful story of envy, heartbreak, and the reasons behind why she wears all black, can talk to animals, and barely speaks to humans anymore – comes to the forefront. Lucky for Quentin, seeing as that he makes a mistake and ends up back home, and only Julia’s brand of “dark” magic and her knowledge of the ‘streets,’ will allow Quentin to return to Fillory. In the real world they meet old friends, deal with a dragon in Venice, and delve deep into Julia’s amazing story of how she taught herself magic when she failed an exam that wrenched her dream from her hands. Scores are settled, hearts are broken, and the Seven Golden Keys become more than just a journey – they become a struggle: How to find the keys without losing yourself along the way.

In short, The Magicians was beyond an excellent read. And The Magician King is even better. Mr. Grossman knows how to describe a world that is absolutely flawless, where the reader can see every detail as clear as the page in front of them. He offers castles and fantasy as cool as Hogwarts, and a powerful mixture of characters, artistry, and mystical locations – 400 hundred pages of pure fun. Readers should all be hoping that there will be many more adventures in Fillory, because this is one series that should never end!

Reviewer: Amy Lignor

 

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