**Warning! If you haven’t read The Magicians which is the first book in the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
The Magician King by Lev Grossman is the second installment in The Magicians trilogy. I had been debating whether or not to continue the series after not having loved the first book (review here) but my best friend convinced me that it gets better so I decided to trust her judgment. The second books picks up right where the story ended, with Quentin, Eliot, Julia and Janet in Fillory as it’s new Kings and Queens. While things may seem perfect for the protagonists who survived Brakebills and were transported to the magical world Christopher Plover wrote about, they are far from it. Unnerving things begin happening in Fillory and the main characters need to embark on a quest to figure out how to fix things.
The story in the second book is much more exciting than that of the first which I had tried to read 3 separate times before finally surpassing the initial 50 pages. Because we’re starting in Fillory there’s action in the first chapter which continues throughout the book. There are only momentary lulls in action which are due to chapters being dedicated to telling us Julia’s story. The Magician KIng is full of dragons, gods and a quest aboard a ship called the Muntjac to recover 7 golden keys which sounds like all of the elements of an ideal fantasy novel. While the story is much more exciting, there is one particular scene that I had major issues with in the latter half of the book which involves rape. Without spoiling anything, I understand where the inspiration came from for the scene but I did not enjoy reading it and I also had a lot of issues with the after effects. I ended up giving The Magician King 3.5 stars (4 stars on Goodreads) and if it wouldn’t have been for that once scene I would’ve given it a full 4 stars.
Staying consitent with the first book, I still do not like the main character Quentin. While he was more tolerable in The Magician King than he was in The Magicians I still found him to be whiny, entitled and pompous. There’s one line in particular that perfectly embodies the reasons I dislike him. While sitting in Venice this is a thought that goes through his mind “It was strange to be in a place and not be King of it.” Enough said. Toward the beginning of the book, Julia seems like she will be taking on the role of the manic pixie dream girl now that Alice is gone but it becomes clear that this is not true. Julia is mentally ill from her years of chasing magic and a series of chapters are dedicated to flashing back to her story before she met up with Quentin. It gives an in depth account of the torture she went through after having been exposed to magic so briefly and then having it taken away from her.
Final Thoughts: The Magician King by Lev Grossman is a much more enjoyable read than the first book in the series. The characters are still completely unlikable but the story revolving around magic and the quest to find the 7 golden keys is well crafted and intriguing. If you didn’t like the first book and are hesitant to begin the second I would definitely recommend giving it a chance.
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. (via Goodreads)