The magician king : a novel / Lev Grossman

   Chris  Review by:  Chris

Title:  The magician king : a novel

Author:  Lev Grossman

Collection:  Adult Fiction

 

Magician King is the sequel to The Magicians that I reviewed last November.  (Click here to see that entry.)  Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, the magical world that was the focus of Quentin’s dreams in the previous novel.  But the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall.  Quentin feels like his life has no purpose, and he desperately longs to feel needed.  This bittersweet longing pushes him to take steps that launch him on a quest to save magic in the universe.  It sounds campy, I know, but Grossman manages to pull it off.  You can’t have a fantasy novel without a quest, but Magician King is not simple fantasy in the typical generic sense.  Its attitude of self-awareness won’t allow its readers or its characters to become too deluded in that quest.  It asks some serious existential questions, but continually gives nerds like me enough allusions to more traditional fantasy, both contemporary and classic, to provoke the occasional sardonically knowing smile.  Grossman also alternates chapters that advance the novel’s main plot with flashbacks that reveal the tortured past of Julia, Quentin’s onetime high school crush and current co-ruler.  While Quentin was studying magic in an elite private college, Julia’s magical knowledge was hard-won on the streets, and in the end, Grossman weaves the two threads together in a way that left me surprised and pleased.

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