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The Magician King: A Novel (The Magicians) (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Lev Grossman

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1,9061213,596 (3.87)151
Member:CalvinBoesch
Title:The Magician King: A Novel (The Magicians)
Authors:Lev Grossman
Info:Plume (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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The Magician King by Lev Grossman (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
On the last page of THE MAGICIANS, I was angry because the book was ending. But I took heart when I flipped the page and read "watch for THE MAGICIAN KING - COMING AUGUST 2011". Now I feel somewhat the same way about finishing THE MAGICIAN KING and I don't know if there is a Part 3. ???Even if the story has ended, it's a wonderful, creepy, sophisticated, yes I agree a "Harry Potter for adults", and I loved every magical minute of it. ( And the non-magical minutes as well)
But I would like to know...when is the next book ? ( )
  lauri804 | Apr 21, 2016 |
I liked this a lot more than the Magician, the first book in the series. Quentin is a little more grown up and less whiny and self centered.
( )
  Electablue | Apr 20, 2016 |
I had really enjoyed The Magicians but I was a little confused about its intentions – was it a deconstruction of, and comment on, the fantasy genre; or did it want to be taken seriously as a work of fantasy in its own right? There was a sense of Grossman trying to have his cake and eat it too, and although the results had an inherent tension that I found very rewarding, it also somehow fell between two stools. Have you got that – a half-eaten cake between two stools? Right, we're on the same page. If the cake and stools are also on a page. Let's move on.

Anyway, so the sequel would, I thought, be more of a declaration of intent. The slightly twee rubbishness of Fillory in the first book made sense as a way of discussing the limitations of fantasy utopias, but as a setting for a real attempt at world-building and epic drama it didn't seem very promising. To my irritation but also my grudging admiration, Grossman continues to try to push both angles at once in this middle book, writing a standard quest narrative whose participants are self-aware enough to make it kind-of-sort-of-just-about work as a commentary on quest narratives too.

The jumping-off point is essentially where a book like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ends – with four kids from Earth ensconced as kings and queens of a fantasy realm, and it attempts to consider what this would actually be like. What would you do all day? How would you run a magical kingdom? Is there admin? Would it be mind-numbingly boring? Running alongside this is an episodic, analeptic retracing of what Julia was up to during the events of the first book – her story does a lot to flesh out Grossman's world and his idea of magic, and her narrative offers a very welcome counterpoint to Quentin's point of view (though he, too, has noticeably matured from the adolescent dick he was in book one). Julia's story is gritty and goes to some very dark places, but it's nice to see that she's just as fucked-up as he is, if not more so.

What I like about these books is the narrative tone, the slangy conversational awareness, the snappy one-liners about other fantasy reference-points, the allusions to D&D, Gauntlet, Dr Who. I can understand why dedicated fantasy fanboys find Grossman's approach disrespectful or overly cynical, but for me, as someone who grew up loving the genre but who now finds its earnestness hard to escape into, the register is perfectly pitched. A sequence where our heroes go back to the original home of the CS-Lewis-like author of the books-within-a-book, and discover a yuppie estate with a precocious child who ‘could have been cloned from Christopher Robin's toenail clippings’, is a set-piece that encapsulates all of Grossman's meta-generic playfulness (as well as some of the problems with his plotting and pacing).

The incorporation of religion with magic in this book was particularly interesting – at first it made me angry, and, like Julia, I found myself needing to suppress my ‘intellectual gag reflex’. Eventually it occurred to me that this irritation was not exactly commensurate with suspending disbelief in a world with talking sloths and magic haberdashery. If magic is real – a part of the real world that we know – then where does that leave religion, exactly? This turned out to be more interesting than I realised and I was wondering about the implications for much longer than I expected to – one of the many ways this series can annoy and intrigue you all at once.

I'm not sure how to call it. There are a couple of characters whose fates appear to have been ignored – we'll see if he comes back to them in the final book. If he does sort out some of those loose ends, and manages to keep the writing fun without succumbing to the temptation to make everything all serious and important for the big finish, then he'll be forgiven for quite a lot I reckon. One of the tonally weirdest series I can remember reading for some time…. ( )
1 vote Widsith | Mar 21, 2016 |
I liked this marginally less than the last book, but still more than many other books I've given 4 stars too, so ultimately I gave this one a fifth. The biggest difference for me was the ending -- I wrote in my review of the first book about how perfect and complete it was, that while it was wonderful to know there was a second book, I would have loved the first book as a stand-alone novel just as much or more. This one, though, ended a little abruptly, with one of those hated moments where you turn the page only to find that it's blank, and you think, "Wait WHAT?!" and flip back to make sure you haven't missed a page or two...

So I hate ending a book with that horrible unsatisfied but-I-wasn't-ready-for-it-to-end! feeling. Still, even that unpleasant surprise wasn't nearly enough to spoil the book for me. In some ways it was even more complex and impressive, plot-wise, than the first book. In particular, I thought the retracing of Julia's path was incredibly well done, with elements that I seriously never saw coming, but that in retrospect seemed inevitable, which I think is a sign of a truly great plot (that is, when you can be surprised, but the surprises aren't implausible, but in hindsight are so completely plausible you can hardly believe you were surprised by them).

Anyway, I'm a little bit in love with Lev Grossman now, and must locate a copy of his other book posthaste. Also, I will be waiting very impatiently for the third book in this series, whose creation has apparently been foretold. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
An amazing tightrope walk of fantasy novel and meta-fantasy novel. If you've ever read and loved fantasy, particularly the Chronicles of Narnia, do yourself a favor and read this and the first book, The Magicians. ( )
  NinaBerry | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
“Everybody wanted to be the hero of their own story,” Quentin declares, framing the novel’s theme in neat miniature. But by the end of “The Magician King,” he comes to realize that he just might not be. It’s a harsh lesson, and one that, in keeping with the preoccupations and innovations of this serious, heartfelt novel, turns the machinery of fantasy inside out.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Dan Kois (Aug 26, 2011)
 
...a spellbinding stereograph, a literary adventure novel that is also about privilege, power and the limits of being human. The Magician King is a triumphant sequel, surpassing, I think, the original. I can't wait for the next one.
 
Echoes from The Chronicles of Narnia [...] continue to reverberate, but Grossman’s psychologically complex characters and grim reckoning with tragic sacrifice far surpass anything in C.S. Lewis’ pat Christian allegory.
added by melmore | editKirkus Review (Jun 28, 2011)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lev Grossmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Sophie
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Quentin rode a gray horse with white socks named Dauntless.
Quotations
This would be his quest: collecting taxes from a bunch of backwater yokels. He had skipped the adventure of the broken tree, and that was fine. He would have this one instead.
Quentin had an obsolete sailing ship that had been raised from the dead. He had a psychotically effective swordsman and an enigmatic witch-queen. It wasn’t the Fellowship of the Ring, but then again he wasn’t trying to save the world from Sauron, he was attempting to perform a tax audit on a bunch of hick islanders. It would definitely do.
That water must be ninety percent E. coli, and the rest was probably diesel fuel. This was not a body of water intended for swimming in.
Fortunately Poppy turned out to be excellent at this kind of cross-country dead-reckoning navigation. At first they thought she must be using some kind of advanced geographical magic until Josh noticed that she had an iPhone in her lap. “Yeah, but I used magic to jailbreak it,” she said.
When you get to that level of power and knowledge and perfection, the question of what you should do next gets increasingly obvious. Everything is very rule-governed. All you can ever do in any given situation is the most gloriously perfect thing, and there’s only one of them. Finally there aren’t any choices left to make at all.” “You’re saying the gods don’t have free will.” “The power to make mistakes,” Penny said. “Only we have that. Mortals.”
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Haiku summary
The boy is now king
Happily ever after?
Fate has other plans(Jannes)
How much would you want

to give up after a quest

to be a hero?

(legallypuzzled)

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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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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