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.
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.
Nothing. This book was so bad. The characters were shallow and although they were supposed to be elite genius's... their vocabular was lacking and dull. I expected that the characters would have grown enormously from the first book... considering all they had been through. It seemed as though they regressed into a bunch of shallow, lazy, morons.
His voices for the characters... especially Josh... made them sound like 12 year old boys. At this point, these characters should have been mature men and women.
I really really wanted to like this book. I was so hoping that it would be better than the first one as the characters aged... it wasn't. I could not even finish the book... the characters were just so spoiled and shallow and silly.
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.
I'm not going to completely trash this book as its not 100% bad; however, read the review from the Washington Post and verbatim- thats exactly how this book is. The language takes away from the book way too much. As the Washington Post said it: "its been done before and better."
This series is full of surprises. I really enjoyed this book, and I am hoping for there to be a next one.
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.