By Lev Grossman
All lovers of Lev Grossman’s first two books of The Magicians trilogy: This is the end, beautiful friend. So remember which pocket the magic button’s in, and make sure you have your passport, because we have a lot of ground to cover. Several lands, in fact. From Hackensack to uncharted territory.
We last saw our glum hero, Quentin Coldwater, getting booted out of the magical land of Fillory, learning the very hard lesson that being the hero doesn’t mean winning the prize, it means paying the price.
One of the lovely things about this series is watching Quentin evolve from depressed teen to clear-eyed man. If Grossman raises his kids with the same sympathy with which he parents his literary teen, he’ll be a smashing success.
Quentin has finally grown up. The death of his father smacks him with the realization that life does not follow a storyline. Happy endings aren’t automatically handed to you. You have to make your own life ― your own magic.
Grossman writes great, individual characters that you’re sorry to leave. Even the unlikable ones. A priggish magical librarian with serious control issues just makes you yearn for a back story.
Newcomers to this fantasy series for grown-ups will definitely want to start with the first book, and even fans might want to go back for a refresher. We re-meet practically everybody who had any character development in the first two books. Even the dead in Fillory’s Purgatory Gymnasium get a cameo. We learn what happened to all the other Chatwins. And we meet a new character, Plum, whose magical roots run deeper than she knows. (Sequel? Pleeease?)
And not only do we have a lot of ground to cover, but there are also duels to fight, magical property to steal and world-ending destruction to witness.
Battle scenes are laid out with vivid, near-storyboard detail. There’s so much excitement as to make the temptation to race ahead a serious danger.
Pool tables shoot across the sky. You can smell the vile breath of the High King’s hoggish opponent in slow-motion single combat. And unicorns ― you don’t wanna mess with them. You really don’t.
Having dodged the middle-of-the-trilogy curse in The Magician King of simply mumble-humming between the exciting first verse and the rousing last stanza, Grossman brings the story home on a very satisfying chord.
The chorus: We are all magicians. Life, like magic, gives back only as much as you put into it. It takes hard work, it hurts, and you have to be ready to fail. But deep within us all lies the power to enchant the world. (MCT)