The Magician King by Lev Grossman

GoodReads Summary:
The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.
Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.
The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the cutting edge of literary fantasy.

I’m a sucker for most things magical. So when I saw a trilogy that had been turned into a Netflix tv series I knew I was going to read and watch them. I read The Magicians a few weeks ago, check out my review here.
Like the first book, this story has a surprising but intriguing dark side. I’ve been finding myself reading more and more stories that have darker themes and ideas and loving every minute of it. The Magician King was dark indeed. From the crazy direction the story goes into the backstory we finally get on Julia, it was interesting, to say the least.
Quentin still pissed me off because he was a bit whiney. Everything was “poor me, I’m a king of Fillory and that’s still not good enough for me.” I think I mentioned this in my review of the first book but the characters seem to think that they’re magical because of their misery. Their theory is that you need to be deeply unhappy to wield magic. I get why they think this because they are all seriously damaged and unhappy individuals. Quentin was just more pitiful than the other characters (though this might be because the book is mostly from his perspective.) I mostly like him, but sometimes he was annoying. He kind of gets his shit together by the end of the book and figures out that he needs to stop throwing himself a pity party and make the best of the situation he’s in.

“So what if he wasn’t a king. It had been lovely for a while, but here was real life, and he would make the most of it like everybody else. What kind of hero was he, if he couldn’t do that?”

I really grew to like and appreciate Julia. The chapters alternate between Quentin’s point of view in the present and Julia’s experiences in the past. She was determined, but also kind of crazy. She even gave magic up completely because she knew she’d never be satisfied and it would ruin her life. But she got dragged back in. The things she did were not always acceptable, but she did what she thought she needed to. I felt bad for her by the end of the book because some bad things happen to her. I’m interested to see if we see her at all in the third and final book.

“Here’s the one thing I got wrong, she thought. I thought that they could never wear me down.”

I still really enjoy the magic system of the world. Performing magic is a skill that you learn. You need to be able to focus and study and learn how to perform magic. With complicated hang gestures accompanied by words in many languages, it’s a complex magic system and I really enjoyed it. I also liked seeing how Julia learned what she knows. It was cool to see the “forbidden” way to learn magic.
Overall, I liked The Magician King well enough. It was dark, but not too much. There was enough action to keep me interested. There was also enough details for me to get a clear picture of everything, but not so much that it was boring or I lost focus. The characters were compelling, and amusing but also flawed so they were realistic. I’m going to stop writing so that I can start the third book and find out what happens. I’ve become pretty invested in Quentin’s adventures at this point.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

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