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.
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!
The story in The Magician King is much stronger than its predecessor. If you liked The Magicians well enough but didn't fall in love, I'd definitely recommend trying out the sequel. Julia's story in particular is worth the price of admission alone. Great stuff.
As far as the narrator is concerned, he does well enough. His performance is solid and his accent work is serviceable (the major exception being his Australian accent which seems to get away from him more often than it doesn't). While his pronunciation of foreign places and items seem to be spot-on, the book's pop-culture references seem to slip him up nearly every time. There are also several retakes and line flubs that are left in the final product, as well as obvious edit points that weren't bothered to be equalized. So if that's something that will bother you, be warned.
All in all, though, I found the audiobook very enjoyable.
Downloaded book 3 before even done. I can't wait to see what happens next for Quinten and the whole gang.
The Magician King was an imaginative, enjoyable conclusion to the Magicians series. For the most part, I was satisfied with the main characters' development, the unexpected plot twists and turns and their resolutions.
The main character, Quentin is written relatably (though I imagine, not to some readers), The entire series is a coming of age story, and his particular development through teen angst to adult ennui in the context of a magical world is pretty compelling. Themes of never appreciating what you've got and always searching for the next best thing runs through the entire series. And while some readers may find this narcissistic, I thought it was an honest statement about maneuvering through young adulthood and learning to grow up.
Mark Bramhall was a weird choice for this series. His posh English accent at times made it painful to listen to his attempts at the colloquialisms of American youth. It was like listening to Jeffrey affect street slang on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air - except a lot less funny, and way more annoying. Bramhall's Aussie girl accent (for Poppy) was the vocal equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. A lot of the side characters (notably, Josh, Julia) were performed as overly simplistic caricatures. It was easier to imagine these characters convincingly fleshed out while reading the text myself, rather than listening to this depiction of them.
Yes, the pacing was good, always exciting with lots of unexpected and imaginative plot points.