Tea & Book Chat: The Magician King by Lev Grossman (The Magicians #2)

**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.

The Magician King

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.

Rating 4

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)

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Bout of Books: Wanderlust – Day 1 Challenge

This is my first time participating in Bout of Books and I’m going to make an effort to post the daily challenges throughout the week! This morning I posted my TBR – I’m aiming for 4 books in total but I’ll be happy with 3 as well.  The first day challenge is hosted by Leann @ Between Library Shelves and the topic is Fictional World Travel.  Participants are supposed to choose 3 to 6 books that are set in countries other than your own, display your choices in a creative way and share them on Leann’s blog.  Below are some of my favorite books that have given me a case of wanderlust!

Paris Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
London A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Venice – The Magician King by Lev Grossman
PragueDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Japan Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa
London – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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Tea & Book Chat: The Magicians By Lev Grossman (The Magicians #1)

The Magicians by Lev Grossman started out as a really tough read for me.  I had attempted to read the first book in the trilogy no less than three times before I finally decided to just power through.  Melissa PROMISED me that it would get better so I trusted her opinion and she was right.  Since The Magicians has debuted, I’ve heard people pitch it to me as adult Harry Potter so perhaps my expectations were too high?  Once I got about 60 pages in and realized that was just not going to happen, I was able to focus more on Quentin and Alice and the other characters.  I have some mixed feelings on the book overall but I am glad that I read it.

One of the reasons The Magicians did not immediately pull me in is because the beginning chapters of the book (too many of them) are spent detailing how Quentin gets to enroll in Brakebills magic school.  There wasn’t even a significant amount of world-building during this time which is why I think the beginning half was such a struggle to get through.  Once Quentin actually got to school, the book is an easier read.  Sort of.  The story gets much more interesting, but it’s a rather depressing read.  I’ve been told that it keeps getting more depressing as you progress throughout the series and while I’m hesitant because of that, I am interested enough in finding out what’s going to happen that I will be reading the second book, The Magician King.


The main character Quentin is EXTREMELY flawed.  This doesn’t necessarily make a book not enjoyable, but his behavior really drove me crazy at some points and I just wanted to hit him in the head and yell “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!”  He’s really selfish and I hope that he’ll change as the books progress (oh dear it sounds like I’m going to be in an unhealthy relationship with this series).  There are some scenes that are BEAUTIFULLY written and action packed which make them thrilling for the reader but that all comes much later in the book.  That’s partially why I’m so torn about my feelings.  I enjoyed the second half of the story but I cannot forget how much I disliked the first half.

Final Thoughts: The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a challenging and depressing read with a selfish and unlikable main character.  About midway though, the book finds it’s footing plot-wise and it becomes a more enjoyable and thrilling read but albeit, still very depressing.  The story is written beautifully and I will continue the series but I’m worried it’ll take just as long to get into the second book.


Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians, the prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician’s Land, is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren’t black and white, and power comes at a terrible price. (via Goodreads)

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