The stunning conclusion to the New York Times best-selling Magicians trilogy.
Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can't hide from his past, and it's not long before it comes looking for him.
Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of grey magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica and the Netherlands, and buried secrets, and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcerous masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory - but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.
The Magician's Land is an intricate thriller, a fantastical epic and an epic of love and redemption that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnificent climax, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It's the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole.
©2014 Lev Grossman (P)2014 Penguin Audio
It took me much longer to finish this book than the previous two. I'm not sure whether it was because it was slower or because my brain knew the end was nigh and wanted to prolong the experience. I choose think the latter. To be completely honest, parts did bore me a bit. But, in the grand scheme, they were mere drops in a lake of wonder.
The most important thing, to me, is that it was satisfying. The characters reached their resolution in one form or another, the arch was completed, and I feel comfortable with the end. Yes, it was a bit predictable, but who cares. The execution is what matters. And Grossman executed it beautifully.
This final installment was set on a much grander stage than the previous ones, with no ill effects. In fact, I liked that aspect quite a bit more. Bramhall did a fantastic job narrating as always.
One of the ending scenes, the culmination of self realization, was as powerful for me as it was for Quentin. I was overwhelmed with longing and sadness, with happiness about a lost time in my life. I guess that's the power of a good series; it picks you up and carries you along, forcing you to identify and project your own experiences onto one character or another.
These books are brilliant. They returned me to a time when books truly transported me, affected me, on a basic level. Highest marks.
I have read all three books, and they all enthralled me.
I didn't know what this book would entail, and I was a bit skeptic it would be as good as the other books (moreover, I was very skeptic about the ending being good).
But once I started reading, the magic did come through, I was beautiful to see how mature the characters become.
And the ending... I loved it! it was perfect, unpredictable and magical.
I really hope to keep hearing from Lev G in the future...
Although not usually a fan of the fantasy genre, a large part of the appeal of this trilogy for me has been its inspiration from the Narnia chronicles of C.S.Lewis which captivated me as a child. How would those stories play out if the characters were allowed to mature and develop in the "real world"?
I loved the first book of the trilogy, the second a little less so and the third (this one) not so much. At his best, Lev Grossman recreates in my heart the almost painful yearning I had as a child to enter the fantastical world of of Narnia (Fillory, in Grossman's rendering of that world). Descriptions of the imaginary world and its inhabitants are lush and evocative and sure to appeal to lovers of the genre. For me, however, the mystery of the first novel in the series was missing and I found it increasingly hard to care about what happened to the characters in a world so disconnected from our own.
It makes me a little sad--I wish I could have gotten more into the spirit and summoned back to life the sense of wonder I had as a child. The stories have it right for most of us--once you grow up it is almost impossible to fully return to those lands of your dreams, whether it be Narnia, Fillory or Neverland...
For just an hour or so, at the beginning, disappointment started to creep in as I listened. I thought, oh well, you can't crank out a 5 start every single time. But I was wrong. Every word written in the first few chapters of this third book of the series is necessary to set up the story to come. The novel moves back and forth through time and worlds, but does so easily and without reader confusion... even if the chapters don't start with a date, etc. The people and events of the two worlds face each other, interact, and then collide into a great story. There are new characters we knew by name in the first two novels that we get to know in depth. Narration is very good. This series needs to be read in order.
I showed up for "The Magician's Land" ready to have my 30-something worldview shaken around once more by the horrifying genius teenagers from the previous novels, only to find them all grown up (at least, those who survived) and behaving much more sensibly, and sensitively, than I expected.
Quentin finally gets some perspective! He has become the likeable adult that often results from a troubled and disaffected youth. It's incredibly refreshing, and so is the first part of the story: Quentin, working as a magical gun-for-hire, gets involved in an ill-advised heist for some shady characters. It's funny, a little sad, and insanely dangerous, and it sucked me into the story at once.
In the end, everything ties back to Brakebills and Fillory - and this is where this book really starts to stand out as something exceptional. Previously, we experienced everything through the lens of the main characters' (often tiresome) teenaged jaded world-weariness. Now, Quentin has had time to reflect on the world, magic, and life in general, and he's more optimistic, thoughtful, and creative.
There are some really beautiful themes woven into this story - about the way people experience stories as children, teenagers, and adults; about growing up, and of course love, redemption, all that stuff. But it's also thrilling and exciting and totally unpredictable. It's huge, I loved it, and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
audio book junkie
I think these three books are fun and addictive. Like people have said there is an element of 'ripping off' of narnia and maybe a little Harry Potter. But I don't care I love those books and want more of those stories in the world. Grossman certainly puts his own adult twists on these tales and has a lot of great original ideas. There are moments of truly beautiful writing in all three books and this one especially. The end while not perfect is satisfying. I'm sad it's over and I will miss these characters.
This is the most grown up book of the trilogy, and that's evident in the writing. The detail in "The Magician's Land" is stunning, and the way it ties together threads from the whole series is very effective. Whereas "The Magicians" is a coming of age story for teenagers, "The Magician's Land" is about what it means to truly mature.
I can't pick one, honestly. I've come to know Mark Bramhall through these books and I think he's an extraordinary voice actor. I'm impressed by the way he manages to differentiate characters without turning any of them into a caricature. There is something feminine about his portrayals of Julia and Janet and Alice, but it doesn't feel put on or over-the-top. He's excellent.
I was surprised by how deeply I felt connected to this book. I enjoyed "The Magicians," but it felt like fun--fluff. "The Magician King" had more substance, but it still didn't resonate with me in a deep and meaningful way. "The Magician's Land," however, left me reeling. The ending was particularly poignant. Without giving anything away, I think it's safe to say that it is an extremely rare and talented writer who can fill the description of a plant with so much emotional power.
I love this book and Mark Bramhall's performance. I'm on my second listen-through of the trilogy, and I'd be very surprised if it were my last. Wonderful.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Fillory, the magical land in this series, is a flagrant riff on CS Lewis's Narnia. In Lewis's classic children's books, the young protagonists entered the world through a magic portal, had adventures, and got into trouble, but had Aslan the lion (and Christ figure) to set them on the right path again. Here, though, the heroes aren't children, but jaded young adults, and the gods are a lot more fallible. And magic is dangerous.
In the hands of other writers, such a premise might not have gone beyond parody, but Grossman's marvelous mix of creativity, snark, grimness, and squirmy truth shows that he had more serious things in mind. His story might be a metaphor for the messy process of growing up, for reaching that age where you've outgrown childish things, but haven't fully abandoned them. It’s when you find out that the world doesn't always answer your dreams with wish fulfillment, but with sharp edges. So it happens with the mopey, self-absorbed Quentin Coldwater and his disaffected friends, who, after learning magic at a special university that recruits the smartest misfits, manage to open a gateway to Fillory, which they become rulers of after removing a monster. Though not without death and suffering, and not without quite a bit of angst.
In this novel, the nearly-thirty Quentin, who was banished from Fillory at the end of the last book, returns to Earth, while his friends continue on as rulers of the magic land or go on other missions (in the case of Julia, the hedge witch now turned demigod). There, he takes up a post as a professor at Brakebills, until something/someone from his past comes back to haunt him. Along with a new character named Plum, who has her own secret, he joins a team of renegade magicians to carry out a mission for a talking bird, who wishes them to recover a lost suitcase. This suitcase, well-guarded and kept closed by powerful magic, once belonged to one of the Chatwin children.
If this is meant to be the last adventure in the Magicians universe, it finds its way to a somewhat expected, but not unsatisfying conclusion. Yes, Quentin finally matures and embraces being an adult, and his friends have their own growth. The plot is a little more rushed than previous entries, as Grossman works his way towards tying up all the loose ends, sometimes at the expense of spending enough time with his more interesting or likable characters or fully addressing some of the series' outstanding questions (who’s behind the Neitherlands?).
Still, he has talent as a writer, which stands out in more than a few moments. I especially liked a journal sequence that reveals, with fitting Britishness, more about the relationship between the Chatwins and Fillory. As in the previous books, there's plenty of snarky humor, with irreverent young adults talking back to monsters and one another, but Grossman can also do emotional honesty, existential doubt, and genuine wonder. There's poignancy to a few scenes, such as Quentin's emotional response to his father's death, or a surprisingly beautiful scene in which one world comes to an end and another is born. A creative duel between Quentin and a ghostly being has an otherworldly creepiness to it, as well as an extra layer of emotional tension.
Overall, I think that readers who enjoyed books one and two will like this one, even if it lacks many surprises in overall plot arc or character development. Grossman has created a world whose biting twists on traditional fantasy are as much of a pleasure to explore as the original thing was when we were kids. These books ain't for kids, and that's okay by me. Audiobook narrator for the series, Mark Bramhall, brings his usual droll style, though I felt he gave a little less personality to some of the characters than before.
Abracadabra! The Magicians, as a garden (go with it), was patchy, brambles mixed with incredible blossoms (great book), while the The Magician King erupted into a wild English garden. The second book was better than the first, but you cannot view the books that way, one apart from the other, and the two-book combination is about as good as anything that fantasy literature has to offer, but The Magician’s Land surpasses the second book, and makes a whole that is as beautiful a magical piece as is The Lord of the Rings, or all of Narnia. It might not be fair to say that this is Harry Potter for adults, but this trilogy is certainly not for children (although you wish it could be, but 17 years of age is about as young adult as possible). No spoilers herein, but I gotta tell ya, some impossible things happen, things you wanted to happen since the first book closed, and these are not literary cheats (well, you know, maybe three or four, but all expertly dealt, and you will not mind the appearance of those purloined aces from up the sleeve). Grossman has become a master of backstory, and some of his best writing is in the storytelling (breaking the modern tv-era-demand of “show-don’t tell”, and it is wonderful storytelling, including journal entries, characters sharing stories, secrets whispered, I loved it from beginning to end, way to go, Grossy). Magical (duh). And thank goodness for Mark Bramhall’s continued elegant reading (I still think he sounds like a slightly tipsy David Hyde Pierce), a rich voice that fairly sounds a siren’s call, with apt Brooklyn accents, and hoity-toity faux British nose-lifters, and a rich musical constant that rivals Scott Lee, although the Australian twang still needs a tweak or two, but it is a very minor complaint; Bramhall makes Grossman pop, so to speak). The Magician’s Land is a sure thing, a masterful accomplishment, and if you do not end up rereading the three books at least three times in the next three years, it just could trigger a magical apocalypse, so you are cautioned. Lev Grossman is the dude. Art et Amour Toujours
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