The magician king
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Sequel to: The magicians.
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.
Not as good as its predecessor, The Magicians, but it really grew on me (particularly on a second reading). The story of what Julia's life was like, her struggles and dangerous adventures - was really absorbing. The magic of Fillory itself lost its sheen, but some of that was deliberate. I really appreciated the incorporation of folklore and legend into the "real world" parts.
Okay, so you've gotten through wizard school - it wasn't what you expected, but more like your typical college drudgery - and somehow made it to this magical kingdom - also not exactly what you expected, some serious dark sides here - and now, here you are, suddenly thrust back into your own world. Everything you worked for, gone. How do you get back? What do you do?
Quentin faces some similarities to Julia in this book. Julia wasn't accepted to Brakebills, and had to resort to taking what she could get. Now Quentin is kind of stuck in a similar position, lost in his own world. I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was a great sequel.
It seems that every review of this story agrees that it isn't quite as good as the first book. I will disagree. Based solely on how much I enjoyed reading it, I would have to rank The Magician King ahead of The Magicians. I thought the quest narrative was more engaging, and I enjoyed the slow reveal of Julia's back story. I will agree that the first novel was great, but this was the real page-turner for me.
Really liked it. I hope Grossman is planning to make this into a series similar to the Narnia books. If you're going to be the C.S. Lewis for adults it would be fitting to make the series last around seven books. Of course, the books could end with this one and it would be fine, but I would love it for Ember or some other demigod to call on Quentin again. Or it could take place on Earth. I don't even care where the books are set as long as they keep coming.
The sequel to Grossman's fantastic "The Magicians" follows the Godfather 2 model, following up events in its predecessor (Quentin--now a King of Fillory--and Co. set off on a quest to save his adopted home) and giving Julia's backstory in alternating chapters. The tenor of the story is different from the first book; the conflict is a lot more external in "The Magician King". Quentin's struggles with his place in the world are still present but far less pronounced.
Possibly darker and more depressing than the first book. Still very very good but it lacks that spark of originality that "The Magicians" possessed in spades. A typical sequel failing.
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