Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Magician King

Yesterday I finished The Magician King by Lev Grossman.  It is the second of a trilogy, preceded by The Magicians and followed by The Magician's Land.  I wasn't wild about The Magicians.  It was okay.  Okay enough that I went ahead and picked up the second, but not so great that I was eagerly anticipating it.  I really really thought I blogged about the first book, but I can't find it which is now making me feel sorry for my friends and family because I had a LOT of feelings about the first book and if I didn't share them here I must have shared those feelings with an endless stream of "And THEN do you know what happened?  I didn't think it was a respectful way to handle a reference to a greater work.  The characters are hard to root for!" Etc etc etc.

I'm really making you want to read this aren't I?

I say all of this to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the second book.  Not only was I not hyped because the first book fell short of the intended goal, I dreaded the almost inevitable Second Book Syndrome that occurs in trilogies.  However, I was pleased to find that The Magician King did not suffer from SBS in my opinion.  Hooray!  The pacing was good and the story felt like it had merit and worth on its own instead of solely to move the reader from the genesis of The Magicians to the final conclusion of The Magician's Land.  There was an actual story that was worth telling and reading in this second book.  It also succeeded in making want to finish the series.

Grossman leans heavily on parallels to other fantasy works like Harry Potter, the Narnia books, and The Lord of the Rings.  The first book felt almost mocking of the other worlds, but this book tied in the elements of those stories without the mockery and with more original imagination.  The story felt more lived in, like the author was comfortable with the places and mythology he had built.

This isn't a book for a new fantasy reader (for those I'd suggest The Night Circus, The Golem and the Jinni, or Neverwhere), but if you are a dyed in the wool fantasy lover, I'd definitely give this a try.  You will enjoy the references and the possibilities set up in this world.  Don't be fooled by the comparisons to Harry Potter though, this is much more mature in themes.  There was scene in the final fifty pages of this book that I'm still internally cringing over.  It has a lot of good reviews by fabulous fantasy authors and that can be a recommendation in itself.  If you give it a shot, let me know what you think!  I'd love to, once again, ramble on about the pros and cons of the first one too!  If you don't want to invest the time in reading it, I learned (from Wikipedia so tread with caution) that SyFy has ordered a 12 episode season of the first book.

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