The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman: Review & Giveaway

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Title: The Magician's Land
Author: Lev Grossman
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication Date: July 2014
Length: 416 pages
Series: The Magicians
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: Review Copy

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Please note that there will be some spoilers for the first two books in the trilogy.

From GoodReads:

Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story be­gan, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young under­graduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demi­monde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost for­ever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory—but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrific­ing everything.

The Magician's Land begins with Quentin dealing with the aftermath of The Magician King and being exiled from Fillory. Unlike the Quentin we first met in The Magicians, Quentin is a more mature young man of almost 30. Quentin doesn't want to be all-powerful and live in Fillory anymore. Meanwhile, Poppy, Elliot, and Jane are trying to manage ruling Fillory without Quentin. Life is good in Fillory until suddenly things aren't going well anymore (as it goes in magical kingdoms). Even though Quentin doesn't need Fillory anymore, Fillory might need Quentin.

About three years ago, I was procrastinating by surfing the Internet and I discovered the Sword & Laser book club on YouTube. At that point in my life, I was barely reading a book a year that was not related to my graduate studies. In all honesty, my attention span had been destroyed due to reading tons of journal articles. Veronica and Tom from Sword & Laser got me interested in reading science fiction and fantasy books again. The first book they read for their YouTube show was The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I decided to give the book a read. To my pleasant surprise, the book kept my attention. I have been reading books regularly ever since watching that YouTube video and picking up The Magicians. 

When you hear about the world of The Magicians series, you usually hear people describe it as Harry Potter goes to college. I would beg to differ. Sure, Quentin Coldwater was a guy who didn't know magic existed until he was invited to attend a very exclusive magical college; however, Quentin isn't Harry Potter and Brakebills (and the magical world) wasn't Hogwarts. Grossman's world is filled with the type of people that you know personally, people with flaws. Quentin is nowhere near perfect or as altruistic as Harry Potter is. In fact, Quentin makes quite a few bad decisions across the trilogy. At the same time, Quentin makes bad decisions that are very true to his character. Quentin's college and classes aren't perfect or perfectly wondrous either. Quentin doesn't learn to be a powerful magician via some cute wand swishing montages and copying notes off of a classmate; Quentin has to work very hard to learn magic. If there is one thing that I learned through these books is that magic does not come easy to people even if they have the aptitude for it. If you have been looking for an adult series that showcases magic is a more challenging way than the Harry Potter series and plays homage to beloved SF&F related materials, Grossman's The Magicians' trilogy might be perfect for you. 

Alright, enough gushing about the series, let's discuss The Magician's Land. The final book in the trilogy reminded me a lot of The Magicians. In both books, the books are fun and interesting but some of the events feel a bit random and disconnected until the last 100 pages or so of the book. For example, there were a few events early in this book that felt a bit out of place; however, by the time I reached the final page of the book, I discovered that there was a reason for each event. The book felt tighter than what I initially thought. I have to give praise for Grossman for planning out events and sprinkling clues for careful readers. I was always pleasantly surprised that he picked up details that felt insignificant at the time and weave them nicely back into the story. I should note that although I love how well Grossman uses this technique, the story may feel a bit slow or meandering for the first half of the book.  

One of my favorite aspects of this book was seeing how Quentin has matured. Quentin is annoying college kid in The Magicians. In The Magician's Land, Quentin has become more careful and demonstrates empathy. In a different series, a transformation like this across several books could feel gimmicky; however, Grossman does a great job with Quentin. Quentin worked hard for his maturity, and we the readers get to celebrate this new found maturity with Quentin in The Magician's Land. Grossman has noted that he really wanted to write a book that shows what the magical hero kid's life is like when he is older (aka Harry Potter in his 30s), and I think Grossman executed this brilliantly. I love reading the Harry Potter books, but I agree with Grossman that we miss out by not getting books about how Potter is managing life in his 30s and 40s. I really enjoyed seeing how Quentin is living is life after he had his "happily ever after" and got several adventures in the magical land of Fillory.

The big question I am sure many of you wondering is whether The Magician's Land is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. If you enjoyed the first two books, I would definitely encourage you to read the final book. Although the story was a bit quiet at first and took a while to wind up and have a few big climatic scenes, I found the book quite satisfying. I feel that I got to see enough of all the characters that I grew to love over the course of the trilogy that I can imagine appropriate endings for them past the events of The Magician's Land. I feel that I can give The Magician's Land my biggest bit of praise for a final book in a series: I want to start the series again.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Magician's Land, and I felt it was a good ending to the trilogy. I look forward to rereading the trilogy again in the near future.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.
Very Good
Viking was very kind and provided a copy of The Magician's Land for a giveaway! The giveaway will last for one week and is only for people in the US.

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