Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review: Magician Kings, a surprising sequel

I never expected to see a sequel to "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman. So when I found the local library featuring a copy of it on one of their display tables, I picked it up without hesitation.

The book picks up with the four earth-children holding their long-dreamt-of thrones in Fillory, and to nobody's surprise, Quentin is bored.

It takes a little time for the story to go anywhere, but I kept pushing on out of defernce for the wonderful story I found in the first book. Some early inconcistencies bothered me too: Quentin, and his unlikely adventuring partner Julia, get transported back to this world, and Julia has to remind Quentin how to steal money from an ATM.

Now, I could have sworn Quentin mastered everything back in the first book during his therapy with the centaurs, and that degree of mastery is like getting back on a bicycle. Apparently not for Quentin.

Further adventures continue in that vein, with chapters alternating with Julia's magical upbringing, which as a stand-alone story, are well-on par with Quentin's. In some places it felt rushed, as if she would have been better given her own book instead of sharing with The Magician Kings.

As for the end... it was depressing.

The Magicians sees Quentin constantly fearing that all this magic is an illusion and he's going to focus too hard and it will blow away. The Magician Kings sees Quentin finally accepting it, that it is so real, but in the end, the hero must pay the price.

Part of me hopes there will be a third book, reconciling Quentin's faith in the magical world that is stolen from him almost unexpectedly at the end of The Magicians. Part of me feels that it's time for Quentin and all of Lev's readers to wake up from the dream, and see the world finally drift away and leave us behind.