This review may contain spoilers for The Magician’s and The Magician King.
The stunning conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy
Quentin Coldwater has lost everything. He has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams that he once ruled. Everything he had fought so hard for, not to mention his closest friends, is sealed away in a land Quentin may never again visit. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.
Meanwhile, the magical barriers that keep Fillory safe are failing, and barbarians from the north have invaded. Eliot and Janet, the rulers of Fillory, embark on a final quest to save their beloved world, only to discover a situation far more complex—and far more dire—than anyone had envisioned.
Along with Plum, a brilliant young magician with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. His new life takes him back to old haunts, like Antarctica and the Neitherlands, and old friends he thought were lost forever.
He uncovers buried secrets and hidden evils and ultimately the key to a sorcerous masterwork, a spell that could create a magical utopia. But all roads lead back to Fillory, where Quentin must face his fears and put things right or die trying.
The Magician’s Land is an intricate and fantastical thriller, and an epic of love and redemption that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnificent conclusion, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It’s the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole. (Goodreads)
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when I first dived into The Magicians Land. Certainly not what I was presented, in a good way. I feel simultaneously surprised and pleased, and just a teensy bit annoyed (I’m looking at you, Alice). Critics of Grossman’s trilogy have often said that he borrows from other fantasies – Narnia, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings – but I’d argue (and so would Grossman) that it’s kind of the point. Grossman creates an interesting dialogue that us fantasy fans can really relate to – what would happen if that other world, that secret door, that magical pathway was real. Would it be everything the books have made it out to be? Or would there be some hidden darkness beneath the surface? Would it live up to our expectations?
I really enjoyed the ride of this novel – we go back and forth between a few places and perspectives. Quentin is now 30, and has gone back to Brakebills and accepted a teaching position as well as taking on a rather strange and confusing project of his own. Eliot, Janet and Josh are still in Fillory, which is falling apart and they are trying to keep it from doing so. And then we have Plum, one of Quentin’s students who is rather full of herself and her abilities. Believe it or not, all of their paths will collide – and include even more people beyond that.
One thing that I love about Grossman’s books is his idea of magic. Magic in his books is dark, it is complicated, it is mathematical and varied. It’s a lot more than waving a wand and saying an incantation. Frankly, Grossman’s brand of magic makes my brain hurt, and that is part of its charm. It adds to the idea that magic is something special and unique.
There were a few things that I didn’t like, which is why I only gave the novel 4 stars. It felt really rushed, things happen very fast in Grossman’s books and I do wish that he would slow it down at times, especially during climactic points. I don’t need a 700 page book by any means, but there a certain points within the novel where I wished I could have spent a little more time (for example, Janet’s hippogriff ride over a dying Fillory). It feels like things are happening in fast forward, it’s almost like if you were to read it out loud you would have to read at top speed. Another thing that bothered me was Alice. SPOILERS: Okay so in book 1 Quentin and Alice have their thing and it gets all messed up (because they are both idiots) and Alice turns into a Niffin. Great, goodbye Alice. I never liked her anyway – she was selfish and depressed. But not the kind of depressed you feel bad for because she was perfectly capable of changing it, she just refused to. Whatever, we don’t really see her in book 2 and Quentin is forced to accept that she is gone forever. Or not, because Grossman brings her back once again. And it doesn’t turn out well, obviously. Imagine that. It just didn’t seem fair or necessary to do that to Quentin. the poor guy finally made some personal progress, and Alice drops in and is just like “hey, let me stir some shit up.” I really hate her.
All in all, it was a nicely wrapped ending to the series. I don’t feel as a let down or pissed off as I did when I finished The Magician King, but part of that was because at the time it was not known that there would be a third installment and the ending was just not right at all. I can finally say that I’m perfectly content leaving behind Brakebills, Fillory and the Neitherlands and I feel some satisfaction that Quentin finally feels like he is home.
My Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29 Stars
Number of 1-Star Reviews: 25
My Review on Bookdigits