Tuesday, September 16, 2014

'The Magician's Land'

Now that life has settled down a bit, I'm able to fully appreciate the new books I have stacked on my bed table (although Michael, my rescue cat and newest member of The Evil Plan Bureau, loves pushing them to the ground).  

My 'hold' list at the library is starting to move along.  And the book I've been eagerly awaiting came in not long ago.

I first read Lev Grossman's fantastic fantasy novel, 'The Magicians', a while back, and I was thoroughly impressed.  A cross between Harry Potter and Less Than Zero, it really didn't offer me a safe moral, but, instead, gave me pause to consider the complexities we all face when we reach adulthood.  Should we leave our childhood passions behind?  I like to think that we always carry our much younger selves with us, the self who is full of enthusiasm and innocence.  Our better self.  I tend to celebrate the child within me every day.  Without it, I'd be a very boring Book Hog.

It's funny, but after reading the second book in Grossman's series, 'The Magician King', I wasn't so taken with the fact that most of the action took place in the mythical world of Fillory. The real-world challenges that the main character, Quentin Coldwater, faced felt more stimulating.  But that doesn't take away from Grossman's writing; I find no fault in that.  I love fantasy.  I love the worlds that inhabit fantasy author's brains.  I still wish I could attend Hogwarts, and Narnia seems like such an exciting, dangerous place.  Even Fillory has a fantastical side...until you discover it's underlying darkness.

Which is exactly what Grossman and his band of characters reveals in his new, and final 'Magicians' book, 'The Magician's Land'.  Here, we finally see what happened to a few of the merry band of Quentin's fellow Brakebill students.  And it isn't necessarily...pretty.

At the end of 'The Magician King', Quentin Coldwater has lost everything: His ability to return to the magical land of Fillory and his closest friends. He returns to Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, where he takes up a teaching position...and finds that his past is catching up with him. Together with Plum, a student with an interesting family history, they seek out buried secrets and an entrance back into Fillory.  Meanwhile, Janet and Eliot, the rulers of Fillory and Quentin's friends, set out on a quest to save the land they all love...but at a price.

Author Lev Grossman
The fact that those left behind in Fillory are still 'of this world' is no small feat.  When Grossman could easily have taken away Janet and Eliot's 'real world' characteristics, he instead left them just as they were.  They are still sarcastic, with separate real world longings.  Yes, their magical abilities are still in place, but it was rather satisfying to find that some part of their former lives were successfully transferred to a place beyond imagining.

And Quentin, still longing for Alice.  I felt his pain and remorse.  I felt the pain of his descent into adulthood, although it did make him a stronger person.

This last book has brought the series up from the Harry Potter-Less Than Zero vibe.

And I hate to see it end.

'The Magician's Land', the final book in Lev Grossman's 'The Magicians' trilogy, is available at your local library and favorite independent bookstore. ISBN 978-0-670-01567-2

1 comment:

Bellevue Janitorial Services group said...

Incredible and more importantly, believable. Gripping story filed with both humor and darkness. One of my favorite novels in a long time.