Book Review- The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman


Remember when I said I’d have this review up “tomorrow”? Turns out tomorrow is like, a week after the fact. What’s new? This whole sticking to a routine business is going to take some time to get used to, that’s for damn sure.

Anyway, let’s a talk a bit about the conclusion of Quentin Coldwater’s story. Finally!magicians land

By the time The Magician’s Land gets rolling, Quentin has been through a lot of shit. His girlfriend burned herself up with magic, turning into a blue rage demon known as a Niffin. That broke my heart. Alice was my favorite character of the first book, and she deserved better than 23 year old, extra douche-y Quentin. They were mid-fight/break-up when Alice sacrificed herself in Ember’s tomb.

That really messed with Quentin.

But, he still reigned on as a King of Fillory, and when he finally got a quest worth a damn, and completed it admirably, learning a lot about himself, and what it means to be brave, Ember kicked him out. That’s right, the other Physical Kids, Quentin’s friends from Brakebills, get to stay, and Quentin is forced back to his mundane life on Earth.

But, he’s almost 30 by this time, and suddenly a little peace and quiet doesn’t sound so bad. Plus, there’s something he wants to research. So, he gets a job teaching at Brakebills and begins the tedious process of researching Niffins. Because he wants to bring Alice back.

At this point even I think Quentin has gone off the deep end. There’s no bringing someone back from poofing into a nebulous blue cloud of rage. Everything up to this point in the series has made it painfully clear: Alice is gone.

But, Quentin’s not giving up. Not even when he gets fired, and has to take up a sketchy side project in order to make some substantial fast cash to fund his research.

And the crazy part is that it works. It’s not in the way Quentin ever imagined it, and there are a lot of details I’m glossing over that are really pivotal to the story. This book isn’t just about rescuing Alice, and how broken she is when she comes back, but about Fillory, once and for all.fillorymap_lg

Because it’s dying. And nothing Eliot, Janet, and even Julia do can stop it. In a last ditch effort, Eliot goes to Quentin to get his help on one final quest. Only to find that Quentin and his former student now roommate, Plum, have already done the legwork!

So, they all return to Fillory so they can save it. But, again, nothing ever goes quite as planned. But, if anyone can put Fillory back together again, piece by agonizing piece, its Quentin Coldwater.

And that’s exactly what he does. But once it’s done, he knows it’s over for him. The fairytale of Fillory has lost its appeal. Despite multiple offers for him to stay, Quentin and Alice return to the townhouse in New York, and Quentin promises Alice that he’s there for her, no matter how long it takes.

They build a new land, using a spell Quentin found in the Neitherlands (that place between worlds), and the book ends with them exploring the land hand in hand.

It’s a happy, if vague ending that left me completely satisfied.

What really impressed me most about this book was how much Quentin had changed. In the first book, I actively hated Quentin. Don’t believe me? Read my review here. It’s pretty scathing in regards to Quentin’s character. In the second book he sort of played second fiddle to Julia, whose time in the book was spent rehashing what she’d been up to during the events of the first book. It was an odd set up, but the information proved critical for the final installment.

And then, by the time Quentin joins Plum on the heist in the opening pages, he’s someone new. Still quick-witted and sharp-tongued. Still cynical and riddled with self-loathing, but now he actually has a good reason for it.Before it seemed like he was apathetic because he was bored and had nothing better to do. In The Magician’s Land Quentin is in one of the darkest places of his life.

And it really looks good on him.

I still haven’t watched this show. Add it to my “To Do” list…

For the first time, I rooted for Quentin. I worried about him. I couldn’t imagine him dying, or getting hurt. And every stabbing comment Alice made when she first returned broke my heart for him. Because she wasn’t wrong, or at least not entirely. And Quentin admitted that. He actually admitted it! The Quentin could never have done that. And his new honesty and humility endeared him to me in a way I never thought possible.

Fine. I’ll admit it. By the end, I had a certifiable crush on Quentin Coldwater.

And I’m happy to say that I feel like his story ends on just a positive enough note that I have confidence that he and Alice can figure things out. And that makes my heart incredibly happy.

So overall, I still wasn’t a fan of the first book. I enjoyed the second one, but this one was by far the best. Bit of a drag you have to slog through the first two to get here, but there’s no way you could skip over them. I’d say, ultimately, this last book is worth reading the first two. It definitely redeems the series, in my opinion.

Since I last posted, I’ve also finished reading Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale, so keep an eye out for another review soon. I’m also making decent progress on N.K. Jemisin’s newest release, The Obelisk Gate, and should have it completed by the end of the month.

In other words, I’m back in the game!

See you soon, Blogland.



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