05 August, 2014

Review - The Magician's Land (Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman

Growing up, we didn't have lots of money and my dad took off with most of what we did have anyway, but I was always told to do well in school, so I did. I was told, "go to college," so I did. (In fact, it was more assumed than outright spoken to be honest). Once I'd made the mistake of majoring in social science (Economics!), the only solution was more school!

So I went on to law school.

After three miserable years in a system that only rewards the "top 10", I graduated ...

And then what? Then the real world hit. After continually excelling for the most part (law school was the only real blow to that thinking), I was tossed out into the cold, cruel world.

I used to have a plan. School! That was about it. I always knew it was a means to an end (work), but that notion gets befuddled somewhere about 15 years in. It's hard to look past the graduation, which for some reason is something to look forward to.

But it's a tough realization. Especially when you graduate, only to have to study for the hardest test of your life (bar exam) and still have zero job prospects.

This is all to say that what I'm comparing is Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia to Grossman's Magicians trilogy. Narnia is the bliss and Magicians is the reality. What happens to those kids after they can no longer go back to the magical land? Depression? Isolation?

What happens when Harry comes to the realization that his parents were killed and a diabolical madman did everything in his power to kill him. What does that do to a person? Does it make them a well-adjusted person? What if that person isn't strong enough to deal with it?

And yet somehow, Grossman doesn't make this trilogy as dark and depressing a slog as I'm making it sound like. I couldn't put any of these books down. I read my eyes out in each one, The Magician's Land no less.

In The Magician's Land, the conclusion to the Magicians trilogy, Quentin has been summarily kicked out of Fillory. His blissful existence has been brought up short and he has to pick up the pieces and face reality.

Grossman plays with the idea of Quentin being something great, but is he really? So he goes back to Brakebills, which only works for a time. he also finds himself involved in a plot to steal a briefcase for some extra cash and now we see what a low point Quentin has found himself in.

The Magician's Land also looks at Fillory, from the perspectives of Eliot and Janet, two of the four kings and queens of Fillory. I fear I'll spoil to much going into their parts, but suffice it to say, they are just as entertaining in their questing as Quentin's part in finding his own place in the world.

I'm not exactly sure why I love this trilogy so much. I remarked the other day that it must say a lot about me, and not much in a good sense. I mean, these are some of the most self-absorbed, pedantic (which after this much schooling I should hate right?), and I couldn't get enough.

But I think I love this series because of the magic along with the realism. I hope I don't spoil too much by saying these characters actually grow quite a bit. They grow leaps and bounds and it's very much in character and I'm so glad they do.

I love this series because I want to go back to Narnia and this was a way to do so once more. Grossman's clever magic is only extended in The Magician's Land as he explains even more magical beasts and the sloths!

Here's a favorite quote about the sloths, very much a spoiler:
From Janet's p.o.v.: "Maybe she should give the dumb ones [animals] this much, a victory in the last battle, the one that didn't count for anything.
Janet thought of the sloths. Probably there was a contingent of sloths like fifty miles from here, a whole fighting regiment of them, and they wouldn't get here for a month, and by then it would all be over.

I have to say, I thought the ending was both satisfying and a little frustrating. It fit perfectly with the story and I have to admit I had a feeling it would go the way it did, however I'll point you to the spoiler portion of this review on Goodreads.

The Magicians trilogy is quite possibly my favorite series of recent years. I devoured these books like a drug addict and now I'm wanting. I was a little disappointed that the short stories contained in the Dangerous Women and Unfettered anthologies are actually just pulled out of this book, The Magician's Land. I needs my crack!

Grossman has set out to turn tropes on their heads and he has done so in the most entertaining way possible. The hero saves the day, the damsel in distress is rescued, the dark lord is defeated ... your education is over ... but what happens after can be just as captivating.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)

The Magicians
1) The Magicians
2) The Magician King
3) The Magician's Land (released today - August 5, 2014)


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your personal comments in this review. I, too, followed everyone's college advice. Everyone told me to work hard in college so I don't need to work as hard after. Now I'm in the after-college, and everyone is asking me to work harder than ever before. So, what again is the benefit of this professional career thing?