Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I read Lev Grossman's previous book, The Magicians, and decided to listen to this one. I enjoyed both a great deal. They are perhaps a little longer than they could be, but it's so much fun and so interesting that who cares? I think this was my first time listening to Mark Bramhall, who adds a lot of character and humor to his reading. I love the main premise of these books. If you're looking for something fun and absorbing to listen to that also has complexity, go for it. Particularly good for people familiar with fantasy and children's books. Several steps above Harry Potter in my book, and written for adults.
Like its predecessor, The Magician King follows Quentin Coldwater, now King of the fantastical land of Fillory, as he deals with the existential struggles of being a powerful wizard with a real personality. Subverting your expectations appears to be a favorite pastime of Grossman's two Fillory novels; just when you think you've got the course charted, along comes a fresh gust to blow the story into a strange new direction. This time around, Quentin's friend Julia fills the role of angst-ridden magician in the making, but her story is at once darker and more ultimately uplifting than Quentin's was. The story as a whole feels easier, less fraught, and less self-conscious than the previous book, even though it's arguably a more mature and thoughtful treatment of magic, desire and a person's ability to live with themselves and their choices.
Grossman has really done a great job with this second book in what I am hoping is a new series for these magicians. It is easy to tell that the characters and Grossman are both more mature and more sure of personalities, roles in the story, and dialogue. The plot takes off as the 4 - Julia, Quintin, Elliot, and Janet are kings and queens in Fillory and as they once again get drawn and dragged into quests and adventures. There are great weaving story lines and Grossman has some great moments of twists and reveals. I am expecting there to be at least one more in this series with how it ended, very leading into a new step type ending, but still very well done.
Audible rawks! My taste is beyond eclectic and Audible always has plenty to choose from, no matter what mood I'm in!
Though The Magicians seemed like it ended in a great spot, when I heard that there was another book planned I immediately thought of a few storylines I wouldn't mind seeing Mr. Grossman flesh out, especially Julia's story of what she was up to while The Magicians was happening. Let's just say I eventually felt like calling TMI (felt like, but didn't stop listening, of course) as Julia's tale spun towards the point where she would join with the Physical Kids. Quentin's story, the main plot, continues from where we left him emotionally and logistically and the mix of old and new characters hit me as just right.
Even when the action is at its high point, something in Grosssman's prose keeps it tamped down a bit. Likewise, Mark Bramhall's performance keeps things at a quiet, understated pitch while losing nothing of the wonder/horror that might be happening on the page. Quentin and Julia pride themselves on being cool customers: Bramhall gets that tone and maintains it.
Adventures abound and magic is, again, not always what you want it to be. Now, there is one more female character I'd like to hear from, and it seemed to me that there was a hint that Grossman isn't completely done with her either. Fingers crossed for the next installment!
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.
After reading "Magicians", I thought to myself, that while I did overall like the book, I would not try the second one any time soon. There was something missing from the first book - a narrative or a sense of direction perhaps. I was afraid that the sequel would be same.
But it still nagged at me and I finally caved in and read this one.
I am glad I did. This book had a nice story arc (two actually) and a slew of interesting characters. Sure, it builds strongly on the first book-- in fact so much so that the two almost feel like one book.
There was too much whiny Julia. She didn't become even marginally likeable until 3/4 into the book. I was a little disappointed that this story didn't measure up to "The Magicians," but it did have incredibly large shoes to fill. Still a great book and for the most part, I enjoyed it.
The story was quite different. It was very good for a second book in a trilogy. I was satisfied with the end. But due to a few unexplained choices I can't quite give it 5 stars.