I Gave Quentin Another Chance: The Magician King by Lev Grossman

21st July 2011

*I received this book from Viking/Penguin. The Magician King will be published in August 9, 2011. Preorder your copy here.

At the end of Book I, Janet and Eliot tear Quentin away from his grief and anger to take his place on the throne as one of two kings of Fillory. Janet is a queen, and the two have found Julia, the girl Quentin loved in vain at the start of the novel. In Fillory, they laze about and try to ascertain just what royalty does in a magical land.

Quentin and Julia plan a trip to the Outer Island on his ship the Muntjac, needing to get away from the tedium of the castle after a series of ominous events indicate all is not right in Fillory.  Along the way he learns the story of the Seven Golden Keys and decides to follow the trail to find them. However, Quentin has not yet learned magic is not quite what he thinks it is and after locating the first key, he uses it and is plunged back to Earth. Insecure and out of his element, Quentin must rely on Julia and her hard-won dark magic to help him find his way back and heal Fillory.

So. If you read yesterday’s review, you know I was not a huge fan of The Magicians. However, as I also mentioned, I really liked Lev Grossman’s writing style and decided after taking a look at the website for the books that I would give it another go.

I still really disliked the characters. I mean, after the friends he has lost or who have been injured by all this questing, Quentin is still so eager to jump in and go on a quest for no apparent reason. For such an intelligent guy, he has no forethought. Plus, he is king of Fillory, this land he has always wanted to experience, and he is still unhappy.

BUT. And that’s a big “but” – Julia’s story made this book for me. In the last novel, she is taken to Brakebills for the exam but doesn’t pass. She sees Quentin and knows he has passed, but Dean Fogg tries to delete the memory, and it literally drives her insane first, trying to recall what happened and then, trying to understand why she wasn’t accepted. Julia explores magic in her own way, learning in magic “safe houses” and obsessing over spells. Accepted into an elite group who researches the source of magic, Julia feels as though she finally finds her place until the magic she loves destroys her small family of friends. Her story is incredibly dark and rather disturbing in several instances, but she and her friends’ exploration of magic and the divine was tense, well plotted, and interesting.

All in all, if you liked or even sort of liked The Magicians, I think you will really get into the sequel.


On that note, the publisher has kindly offered a finished copy of The Magician King to a lucky reader of this blog. All you have to do to enter is answer the question below by Tuesday, July 26, 2011:

Who are some of your favorite fantasy/magic authors and which book is at the top of your list? If you don’t read much fantasy, what might tempt you?

UPDATE: The winner of this giveaway is Amy! Congrats.

  • Haruki Murakami! WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLES is magic at its most weird, wonderful and grown up.

    • That is on my list, but for the life of me, all I remember about it was that it looked really good. Thanks for the tip. Have you read The Magicians?

  • Amy

    I enjoyed The Magicians, didn’t love, but enjoyed. As an avid reader of Narnia, I remembered what is was like to want to be in that world. Quentin’s blind faith in all things Fillory was frustrating, yet absolutely believable.

    As a whole, my absolute favorite fantasy is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I have read it countless times in the last ten years, and every time I get lost in the story. The gods and their magic operating in everyday America makes it seem so tangible. The magic is not in spells but pervasive almost everywhere. I have to admit, on all the road trips I take, I still have to resist the urge to stop at roadside attractions- just in case Mr. Jaquel or Czernobog might be feeling a little weak somewhere out there.

    • I’m about to say something some will be shocked about: I have never read Gaiman. Yep, you read that right. So now I definitely need to get American Gods. It sounds realy great. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  • Okay, I read this when I probably shouldn’t, but there ya go. I’m nervous! Will tackle the Magicians this weekend.

    • Eh – don’t be nervous. I just can’t wait for you to finish so we can compare notes. There’s a part near the end where I honestly wanted to smack Q upside the head. Grr. You’ll know when you get there.

  • Fantasy is not a genre I’ve considered in the past. I’d consider any that ThePickyGirl.com would recommend? I’ve dabbled in SciFi, which is close, and have enjoyed Frank Herbert, Piers Anthony, and Robert Heinlein. Does the magical realism of Mario Vargas Llosa or the poetry of Pablo neruda count?

    Signed, analytical in CA

  • Fantasy isn’t a genre I’m familiar with. I’ve read the classics of SciFi (Herbet, Anthony, Heinlein) and enjoy magical realism. Does the poetry of Neruda count?

    Didn’t think so.

    So that means this topic is ripe for a “Canon List” from ThePickyGirl! Please?

    • That’s a really interesting question. I think it partially depends on how you define “fantasy” because different people define it differently. The crossover between sci-fi and fantasy is one I’m interested in as well.

      Some of my list would include:
      A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (whole series really. this is one that may qualify as sci-fi. probably would, actually)
      The Hobbit (I wasn’t as big a fan for LOTR)
      Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
      Harry Potter for sure.
      The Lightning Thief series (Rick Riordan)
      The House with the Clock in Its Walls by …. Bellairs (I think)

      But keep in mind, I’m a dabbler. I read a bit of everything, so I am far from the person to ask about fantasy. However, I have read and enjoyed all these books.

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