THE MAGICIAN KING By Lev Grossman [Review]

 Sequels, everyone has them, and I love them. Sequels mean a series, sequels mean a chance to dive into characters I have met, really get to know them, and live their lives with them. Sometimes it means even watching them grow old and die—although I am not really happy when a beloved character dies. Still, I love sequels, even if the first book of the series is a little weak, the second comes back stronger, better and I am in love, and a fan for life. Well, usually.

THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman is not one of those sequels. First of all, if you haven’t read The Magicians you will be utterly and completely lost. I know this is a sequel, but even so it should stand as its own merit as a book, in its own right, so that if someone picked it up, they would want to go back and read the first. With this one, what you would do, should you pick it up, is read the first two chapters, shrug and put it down. That’s a little unappealing right from the start.

We join our erstwhile heroes, Quentin, Eliot, Janet, and Julia, now the Kings and Queens in Fillory the magical and wondrous realm. That might sound a little Narnia-esque, but you can tell it’s not Narnia by the angsting and mutterings of Quentin and his pointless existence. In hopes of finding a life, he sets out on a quest to find what may be the answer to his issues, troubles and a pesky problem. With Julia by his side, they set out into the mystical realm of Fillory and end up in…  Massachusetts. Does he find the answers? Do we? Does anyone?

Grossman spends time going back and forth between Quentin’s present in Fillory and Julia’s backstory in the past. I found it a little, not really confusing, but more frustrating. There was enough going on in the book that I wanted to know more about, but he just glossed over, and it really felt flat. For all that it was nearly two years between books, the second one felt almost rushed, like Grossman had wanted to develop threads, but didn’t have time—or perhaps they were cut, like so many wonderful moments from movies, and left on the editing room floor.

I don’t think I would have been left quite this ambiguous about The Magician King save for one thing—once again the ending was entirely unsatisfying. It left me hanging staring at the page with a “really?” look on my face. I am guessing there is a third. I will read it, I am curious to see what happens, but it won’t be one I will rush out to buy.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Viking Adult | Pages: 416 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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