Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Thankfully my job now allows me to listen to music and audiobooks (I don't have to talk to anyone!) soo..... that's how I was able to listen to The Magician King in two days. I really enjoyed the first book, The Magicians so when Audible had their 50% off sale, I dove right in and snatched up the second book of the series.

As I really get into audiobooks, I realize just how much the voice actor really does matter. Man, the voice actor really does affect the audio of the book! It's a shame because if the voice actor is bad, well, then it doesn't matter how well written your book is.

However, The Magician King has nothing to worry about, because the voice actor is awesome. It's the same one from the first book, and reads Quentin's and Julia's, this time around, with just as much snark as the first book. I really like it when the voice actor doesn't go too off base when they read other characters because it's how I would read it inside my head. I really can't stand it when the voice actor tries to do different accents and different pitches, because... I totally know that you are just one person. Ugh!

Anyway, the reviews of the book on goodreads are up and down. Some people love this book and others... not so much.

I personally thought it was excellent. I loved the Quentin snark, and though some were frustrated with Quentin not learning ANYTHING from the first book, I felt like it was organic. Quentin is now the King of Fillory, and as par for the course, he hates his life. It seems that he hadn't learned anything from his misadventures of the first book, which should annoy the crap out of me, but it doesn't. He reflects upon the death of Alice, and is almost resigned to living a boring, comfortable life of Fillory, which of course, gets him in trouble.

To me, he represents a couple of people in my life, where even though they obtained everything they wanted (even at the expense of others, i.e Alice), they are still unhappy. He was eye roll-y until he used the key to be dumped back into Chestertown. HAH!

From there, Grossman really explored Quentin and Julia, including their adventure to get back to Fillory. I already knew from the show, that in this book, Grossman tells Julia's story, which is harrowing and heartbreaking at the same time. I think what struck me the most was the hand that was given to two students who worked the same, were in the same classes growing up and simultaneously given different "rewards" for their hard work. We learned that magic is arbitrary. Julia became, through sheer will, a great magician, though at a terrible price.

There wasn't any reason, other than maybe initial talent, that Julia didn't get into Brakebill's. Quentin at first is convinced of his own superiority, but when he goes to Fog for help, he realizes just how snobbish and elitist his own education had been. Finally, when he sees the world through Julia's eyes, he repents and for the first time, actually starts to grows up and reflect his journey so far.

Grossman has such a way with words that is admirable, and I only hope to write fantasy as well as he does. Grossman still has a literary style, it's more action packed, especially his time with Julia. I wished his story with Julia was a bit tighter, and maybe even a stand alone book before The Magician King? Or a novella? The reason I say that is that Fillory, the outside islands, the seven keys adventures and the underworld seems to be just a sketch, not an actualized world, like Brakebill's was. I can argue that it was never meant to be a world that we knew much of because Quentin, though obsessed with getting there, and then getting back there, just used Fillory as a goal, not as a place to live. However, I would have liked to understood more of Fillory, and then the underworld when they obtained the 7th key.

I will say, I was shocked by the ending. I did feel sorry for Quentin, but I'm excited to read where the 3rd book takes him. He is in the Neitherlands completely alone and this... this is when Quentin is really going to come into his own. I just hope the snark doesn't go completely away, but maybe use it to make fun of others, like I do! I can't wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

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