The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
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. 1
I was lucky enough to win a copy of the advanced readers version of the book. Lucky for two reasons. First the fact that I had won and second because I did not have to buy the book/ebook myself. As you may have noted from my other reviews on the trilogy I had a real struggle with these books. There were really great ideas, some mostly because they are copied from other stories, but with their own twists. Although Grossman is eloquent and descriptive, it’s also a polite way of saying unnecessarily long winded at times.
The Magician’s Land is the finale in the trilogy. Our main character, Quentin, is now in his 30’s. His past is still crippling him and making it difficult for him to grow up and become the man he should be. The trilogy is really an attempt at an adult fantasy fiction. These attempts are usually punctuated by swears disbursed throughout the stories while in a fantasy, almost childlike, setting. Grossman also tries to enforce this by creating situations to reflect a harsh reality and avoiding things like cliche happy endings. The downside to this is that happy endings have a dual purpose. They leave the reader satisfied and give us closure. The ending was not altogether happy and left us wondering about the future. What is going to happen with certain characters? Why were certain characters introduced with the doorways to further the storyline but then never pursued? Instead these loose ends are tied up during brief conversations.
I apologize for not having finished the book sooner before the release date; however, if you are looking into the third and final book, chances are you have already read the first two. I am not the type of person to usually give up in the middle of a series which is another reason why it was good I won the book. When you aren’t as excited for a book in a series, it’s easy to let it “fall behind the nightstand” so to speak, or more literarily for some of us.
The third and final book had an interesting, although choppy, storyline with what seemed to be less of the usual filler. This does not mean The Magician’s Land is not without it’s usual fat that could have been trimmed. Credit to all authors able to publish a book should be assumed with all reviews, but I must admit I am pleased the series is over.
*UPDATE* I wonder where the claim for this series is coming from. Is it over any merit of the author or is it the fact that all the situations are so familiar we are warmed by nostalgia. The references to Harry Potter are obvious. The similarities as well. The magical world of Filory is kin to Narnia. We trade a wardrobe for a grandfather clock. The children are not able to visit once they reach a certain age. Filory is a flat disc resting upon turtles, very much like Discoworld. I have to question where the line is drawn for an author complimenting another and reimagining popular tales? It is true that at times there seems to be no new ideas, but I believe there is a difference between compliment and riding tailcoats. Thoughts?
1. Book summary courtesy of Lev Grossman’s webpage