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The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.
Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.
The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis and at the cutting edge of literary fantasy.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Douglas on 08-12-11
King Grossman the Magician
It is unusual when a following book is better than the original, and even more rare when considering that the first book is marvelous in its own right. In the first book Quentin was somewhat pathetic, but you loved him even so (one of those negative people who is never satisfied, regardless), he was an antihero who yearned to be a hero. But discovering Breakbills through Quentin's eyes was nonetheless magical, and haunting, and when the first book ends you pretty much have to go back and read it again. Book 2, The Magician King is even more all that than the first book, replete with Julia's experiences, and Julia is probably even a better character than Quentin, although her unbelievable constant fury matches Quentin's omnipresent ingratitude and teenage lack of direction. Julia and Quentin are both utterly believable as highly intelligent, unique-thinking braniacs (Grossman is brilliant, in dialogue, characterization, and plotting). Fillory is much more engrossing in this second book and finally provides a worthy contender to C.S. Lewis' Narnia (albeit a raunchy, F-bomb laced Narnia, drunken and drugged). There is a lot of raunchy language, but The Magician King is haunting and beautiful, and quite a read, and more satisfying than the first book (which was quite satisfying, read it first). Mark Bramhall as narrator is skilled and sophisticated (and I keep thinking I'm listening to David Hyde Pierce's Niles Crane, with a slight cold, and a little drunk on cough syrup, but his voice changes and delivery is masterful). Great book, and worth the wait! Art et Amour Toujours
28 of 29 people found this review helpful
By Samuel Montgomery-Blinn on 08-09-11
A voyage in a different direction
After 2009's groundbreaking The Magicians, Lev Grossman takes his "hero" Quentin on a hero's quest, by ship, magic gate, hell, and high water. Where the first book saw classroom scenes of painstaking practice and learning, here Quentin, Eliot, Janet, and Julia are the kings and queens of Fillory and have been for a good while -- long enough for boredom to set in, and Quentin realizes that he really must find something to do. That something turns out to be a tax collection at the Outer Island, setting Quentin and Julia off on a magical, poorly understood ship East into the half-charted seas. There may or may not be a magical golden key which winds the world. There may or may not be dragons. There are prices to pay. Then there is the other half of the novel. Interleaved with the story of Quentin's hero's quest are "the Julia chapters", filling in the backstory of Julia, one of Quentin's childhood friends, left behind when Quentin passed the entrance exam for Brakebills. Slowly, Julia unravels, at the same time unraveling the mystery of what happened to her, and discovering that there is a world -- an ad-hoc, more jagged-edged world -- of magic beyond Brakebills, found in basements and squatted buildings and various other safe houses. Through these compelling, moving, memorable chapters we see the price Julia had to pay for her magic, with both storylines coming together for a stunning finish and very satisfying denouement. On the narration: Once again, Bramhall brings his at-times delicate and heartbreaking, at other times sarcastic and dry, narration back to wonderful life. Particularly memorable in The Magician King is his characterization of the whiny, bookish Benedict, as well as the greater beings encountered along the way. Throughout, he builds a magical atmosphere and tone, never saccharine, maintaining the perfect knife's edge between the fragile and the real, charting well the heady waters of a truly worthy sequel to one of the new century's great fantasies.
47 of 51 people found this review helpful