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The Magician King: A Novel by Lev Grossman

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

by Lev Grossman (Author)

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2,2801372,802 (3.87)155
Title:The Magician King: A Novel
Authors:Lev Grossman (Author)
Info:Viking (2012), Edition: eBook, 362 pages
Tags:fantasy, fiction

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The Magician King by Lev Grossman (2011)

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    The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish (charlie68)
    charlie68: Same sort of magic teenage vibe.

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Showing 1-5 of 136 (next | show all)
Would it make sense if I wrote that The Magician King is better written, but not quite as good as The Magicians?

It's the old "curse of the sequel" story, of course: almost everything is more polished, but nothing is new anymore. The writing is tighter and more controlled, plot stays on track for most of the time, and there's less fluffy distractions - but the initial shock-and-awe "holy shit, this book is about me"-feeling thet really hooked the fantasy nerd in me on the first book is also missing, or have at least faded into the background. The meta-fantasy elements are there of couse - the nature of the quest, longing for adventure,the need for conflict in the narrative, etc - but it feels less urgent even if it is very well done. Grossman should get credit for actually carying these themes on from the first book rather than taking the easy route and dropping them in favor for a straight standard-fantasy sequel, but I can't shake the feeling that it is all a bit thin in that department when compared to the original. A comparison that might be a bit unfair, but still unavoidable.

The Magician King also has this really strong middle-of-the-triology-vibe to it. Wether that is a good or bad thing I cannot say with certainty yet.

Bottom line: good, but I wished for more. Well worth the time. ( )
1 vote Jannes | Jul 21, 2017 |
Well. This book presents a conundrum.

When giving books ratings I find it simpler to just go by the GR ones:
* did not like it
** it was ok
*** i liked it
**** i really liked it
***** it was amazing

What this means is that there were parts where I wanted to throw the book at the wall (not in the 'Game of Thrones'-sense) & there were parts where I couldn't put it down.

And then there were parts that really made me think and have pseudo philosophical soliloquies in my head while I wrangle with rationalising everything (always dangerous) until I manage to come to some acceptable conclusion (or not - but that's ok too).
Yet, I have never been good at articulating how any one book actually makes me feel beyond fangirl gushing (viz. some textual equivalent of jumping up and down wordlessly pointing) or simply saying stuff like "READ THIS. IS GOOD." or "Meh."

Should I give it a 5 for making me think like this? A 3 as a compromise between my warring sides?

... all this and I haven't even started on what the book is on about.

And I think, quite simply, I will leave it that way. Skirting along the edges...

There are some bits that I wouldn't want my teen-aged nieces/nephews to read. There I said it. Paint me the puritan hypocrite. But stuff like this matters to me. Still. Even after everything I've read. And been through. When they called this an adult Harry Potter they weren't kidding. This book is much darker than the first in the totally merciless and unforgiving consequences sense.

I think it is a tribute to the author that he managed to have two storylines/timelines going on in the book that took turns at chapters and that both were plotted and engaging enough that I didn't feel annoyed when the plot shifted every chapter or so and no urge to skip ahead (which is what I usually feel like if one plot wasn't engaging enough). The only thing that made my inner nitpicker twitch was the way underground magical world managed to skirt around the formal magical world - that just didn't make any sense to me... no confrontation? Really?! - unless the formal magical world really were just a bunch of snots who didn't & couldn't see past the end of their own noses. No. That just didn't click... but... moving along here...

As a whole though - all tetchy bits aside... the ending left me very thoughtful and a bit at a loss. That clarion call about "sacrifice and balance and prices due and paid" spoke to me in volumes - my inner worldview concurring all the way. And Quentin's fatalism is something I quite relate to. Is that what all books are in the end? Looking for bits you relate to? Bits that speak to you? I suppose it is.

Which is why I rather shy away from recommending - as we are all searching for different things. Something I read today would have probably been a wholly different book to me if I had read it 2 years ago or 2 years in the future. Some books would always remains the same whatever point in my life I read it.

This is more of a ramble than a book review. But yeah, it was that type of book for me, or maybe I am just having that type of day.

Edit: So I am giving it a 5 because it made me write all this. I may or may not revise it. Hmm... In the end, I think I will leave my rating starless... like Julia's eyes at one point... #sombre - Ultimately, I think the main point of it all may have been that this is serious stuff & that there are some things you just shouldn't mess with. Period. So in the end a 3.5 from me... I liked it... but I didn't *really* like it... you would think reading GRRM and characters like Gerald Tarrant would make me less twitchy at certain types of scenes. But yeah. Too much ick in that one scene. ( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
I started this book waiting at the airport in Cuba, I think, then read little pieces of it here and there, usually able to pick up the thread again despite surprising myself with how little I would've been able to remember of it if asked. Which might suggest I didn't find it that engrossing, which is a funny thing because these books are interesting and very well-written. It's being annoyed by the characters without being in love with them that might affect why I didn't speed through this as much as I might've thought.

And there is the fact that Fillory is so painfully derivative and it's meant to be, but that doesn't mean it always works. It was the bits with Julia that felt more novel, with Bed-Stuy safehouses and a retreat in Provence and all the Old Gods business. I especially appreciated the addiction/community Julia found with FTB, which felt realistic for a girl as isolated and clever as Julia. I find part of keeping reading is just to counteract the feeling of missing-out, or that fear of being spoiled about something I'm semi-invested in. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED: https://bibliomantics.com/2017/03/12/my-year-in-reading-cassie-las-february-2017-wrap-up/

I heard from multiple sources that The Magician King was a much more enjoyable read than The Magicians, and everyone was 100% correct! In addition to finally revealing Julia’s tragic tale, the second book in the trilogy (while unable to make Quentin more bearable) does raise the stakes for the final book in the series. ( )
  yrchmonger | Mar 12, 2017 |
It kind of seems that Grossman wrote the first book, not really sure if he would do another. And so reading the second book in the trilogy, it seems that he floundered to create a plot for it. It’s well-written, just like the first book, but it delves more into Julia’s history. Which seems kind of moot, considering she’s only briefly mentioned in the third book. We invest hundreds of pages into the background of a character that literally disappears from the overarching plot of the rest of the series, with the exception of a bleep here and there. But I do really like Julia, and her story is rather tragic. I feel like while Julia becomes sort of manic and obsessed once she finds out about magic, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind I would have reacted in a similar fashion if something like this was ripped away from me. You just should be aware before continuing the series, however, that you figure out the true plot of this book on page 301. I’m being literal; that’s the exact page.

Julia’s story is fascinating. And while, yes, Q is there too, Julia’s story is really what makes this book interesting. I love that you find out a more in-depth perspective on her life. The book is written in such a way that Julia’s part runs parallel with where Q is at in his life during the first book, and then it catches up to the current events that Q is expounding on. Through Julia’s perspective, you find out more about the underground hedge magic being performed, and it seems like a really badass kind of magic. Think of it in terms of intelligence. You can be formally trained, and excel at literary schooling. And then there are other people who have curated a “streets smart” type of persona that is just raw, bootstraps-type of knowledge. Both groups of people are intelligent in different ways. Quentin is technically trained, and Julia has enormous amounts of raw, street training.

Meanwhile, in Q’s perspective, they spend a chunk of this book in Fillory actually presiding over the realm. They’re bored and disenfranchised, so they decide to embark on a quest. And that’s when a can of worms is opened. I won’t really discourse more than that, but it takes a while for the book to find its proper footing in the grand scheme of things. Where the first book was largely world building, this book delves more into character motivations.

It’s a decent book, but my least favorite in the series. That being said, the books are still so well-written and relatable that they remain better than a lot of current magical fantasy realism writers. Or whatever this genre is. The characters still remain delightfully flawed, preposterously realistic, and discordant with their lives, despite all the magic that surrounds them. They are still unhappy, but unlike the first book, they are more mature, more self-aware of this unhappiness, and they strive to make meaningful changes that may actually create eventual happiness. So, yes, the characters grow in this book. I’d say the final book is my favorite, the first is my second favorite, and this one is my least favorite. ( )
  Lauraborealis | Jan 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 136 (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 editionscalculated
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Quentin rode a gray horse with white socks named Dauntless.
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?


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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)

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