Book blogger at Bookwi.se
As much as I enjoy books stealing ideas and remaking stories (like Fuzzy Nation or Orson Scott Card's Enchanted), Lev Grossman has soured me on the concept for a while.
I was not a big fan of the first book of this series, The Magicians. I thought it was really well written and had some great ideas. But I just did not like the characters. But I still wanted to read the second book. It was written so well, I figured the second would have to be better.
After having read it, I think this opening line from an Amazon review gets it exactly right. "Joyless, dismal, and cynically nihilistic--that was the first novel in this series."
This book I think is just as well written, but even more cynical. The characters have not learned anything. At least in the first book they were teens and might have some justification for being self centered. Now they are older. They are kings and queens in a Narnia like world where they have everything they could ever want. The economy is magical so everyone is prosperous. There is very little fighting or disagreement. And there is even the occasional quest to go on.
But Quentin, the main character, is never happy. In the last book he found everything he wanted, he was a magician, he had a wonderful girlfriend, he could get anything he wanted and he even found a way to Fillory, the setting of the series of magical books that he loved as a child. And he threw it all away because he thought that the next thing might make him happier. And it didn't. No surprise there.
In this book he is doing the same thing. He has everything he could ever want, but it is not enough. So he keeps risking things to get more. And nothing is ever satisfying for him.
The best part of the book was that it spent a lot of time on Julia's back story. Julia joined the last book right at the end. She was a childhood friend of Quentin's but she did not get into the magical school and instead learned magic on her own.
Hers is a story of depression, addiction, rejection of her family and pursuit of a goal as if nothing (including herself) matters. It is one of the better written portrayals of depression that I have read. But because it is Grossman, the story is cynical and lacks all hope.
Even the fantasy elements seemed missing in this book. There are lot of actions, like a war that includes dragons, but so much happens off the page. There is a quest (pretty much exactly like the Voyage of the Dawn Treader) but much of it happens while Quentin is gone and is dismissed in a couple of sentences. These powerful magicians seem to have almost forgotten that they can do magic in most of the book.
There is clearly a third book on the way because this book ended on a cliff hangers. But I would advice most people to just skip these first two books. There is so little redeeming value in them that if you have not started I would say don't. If you have read the first one, wait until the third one is out to see if it is any good before reading the second.
I also want to note that this book continues to be full of language, sex and a lot of drinking. There is also one graphic rape scene that came out of no where and I though added nothing to the story. This is just a book I would encourage most people to stay away from.
Because of the narrator, Mark Bramhall, I have recommended listening to the book and NOT reading it. Mr. Bramhall gives the book extra dimension and allows the subtlety to shine through.
There are so many memorable moments it will just have to suffice when I say...read the book or rather LISTEN to this book. Can't say I have enjoyed a series like this as much since The Golden Compass.
Once again, the critics love a book and it leaves me completely cold. A seemingly endless journey where characters change little and spend more time talking about it instead of doing.
I enjoyed, but didn't love the first book. I'm not sure if this book is better than the first or if I just knew what type of experience to expect from Grossman, but I enjoyed this book even more than the first.
It is a similar experience with a somewhat similar story-arc and similar lesson/internal-conflict for the main characters.
It still had some brutally painful (and in this case disturbing; warning there is a rape scene) moments. But they punctuate the story and are used very purposefully to develop the characters and explain their motivations.
I just bought the next book.
Magician King is the second volume in the Magicians trilogy. Mark Bramhall does a perfect reading, getting the tone of mildly exasperated irony exactly right. This volume indulges fully in the Narnia knock-off, Fillory; the first one, The Magicians, starts as a Hogwarts and Harry Potter pastiche populated by young adults but segues into what the characters really want: they want Narnia, and they get it. The references to all the C.S. Lewis Narnia stories are deft and delightful and thought-provoking: this work is deeper than it looks and for someone who has read all the Narnia stories over and over, there is only one thing to do when reaching the end of the Magician King: start over again.
A twisted up journey to Narnia, er Fillory, er... Well, just find out for yourself. I do think having read C.S. Lewis should be a prerequisite, though.
The Magician King is in some ways superior to The Magicians--the main character has his sh*t together a little more, leading to a more fun atmosphere, as with the first book, the Narnia references are splendid and everywhere. The narration is great, each character has a distinct voice, female characters are done well, and accents--especially the Australian, are done with skill.
I think one of the most memorable moments of The Magician King was the final few chapters of the book where you finally get closure on why certain things have happened throughout the book. It also ties up loose ends in regards to some of the earlier characters.
Sometimes wanting things too much blinds you from seeing what you already have.
This was a great book and I am glad that I listened to it not long after listening to The Magicians. When I got to the end of the book, I was sad and disappointed. Not by the ending itself but by the physical end to the story. I recall looking at my phone (from which I listen) and thinking, "That's it?!??!"
I was so involved in the story that I found myself feeling sad for different characters throughout the book. Grossman's writing evoked emotions and experiences that I once had when I was younger and felt left out of the crowd, only to find a new group of people (not necessarily as deviant as Julia's group, but family nonetheless) to call friends.
Yes, absolutely. I did enjoy the storyline of Grossmans series however I believe the reader made it even better. For the first time
I quite enjoyed these books. They were fairly well written and very well read. I gave the story a 3 because I felt that although "narnia" isn't mentioned in this story it is very obvious that that is where the inspiration came from. I just wished that the author didn't rely so heavily on the narnia series for plot lines as I feel that with a bit more thought these books could have been excellent. Would I recommend this book, yes and I would listen to them again. All in all it was fun and enjoyable.