The Magician King by Lev Grossman – Review

Cover- The Magician King

Published: August 9, 2011

Publisher: Books on Tape

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 15 hours, 48 minutes

Narrator: Mark Bramhall

My Rating: 4.5/5.0



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 cutting edge of literary fantasy.

This book was absolutely wonderful! A mix of Narnia + Harry Potter + jaded adults, The Magician King was a breath of freshly fantastical air. If a classical children’s fantasy were re-written for adults this would be that book. I literally laughed (quietly) in several places, which I sometimes think makes my coworkers believe I’ve lost it. I haven’t, I’ve just found a particularly good book and they’re missing out.

The character in these books… *sigh* they are nearly indescribable, so I’ll give it my best shot. Quentin is an adult with a child’s desire for adventure, but he’s literally got some of the worst luck I’ve ever heard of. Eliot is glamorous and likes gold leaf. Janet is possibly a tyrant. Julia, oh Julia… she’s broken somewhere deep inside and that makes her a scary powerful magician. There are many new characters and a few old ones that make appearances in this book and each is weird and fun in their own way.

This book begins in Fillory and right off the reader is thrown into some new and possible traumatizing action. Our beloved four rulers of Fillory are chasing a magical hare through the woods and having a rough time of it. From here there are accidents, car thieving, passports, and dragons each of which just put a big smile on my face. This book just made me grin like the Cheshire cat. Not the whole book mind you, just about half of it. The other half is Julia’s story and while it has some amusing sections, overall it’s difficult and melancholy but helps to really flesh her out as a main character. In the first book she was in the shadows, appearing in Quentin’s thoughts and in random segments here and there. In the second book she starts to shine and I really liked how she developed, especially after she found the safe houses and seriously started learning magic. I hope the tv show sticks to the books more closely than it seems to be (I’m on episode 6 I think) because her side of the story is interesting.

I love this series so much and I think it’s completely underrated, mostly because it doesn’t seem to get a whole lot of attention. I didn’t hear about it until I started blogging and I thought it sounded interesting enough to read (via audiobook). Now of course, there’s the tv show based of the books and though there are a lot of differences between the book and tv series, I love it! It’s such a delightfully unique story- it’s everything I could have wanted in a book and if I ever wrote a book, I would want it to have the same type of humor and the same quality. You’ve just got to read it and see!


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