The Magician King by Lev Grossman — book review

The Magician King by Lev Grossman. William Heinemann ‘12.99

Reviewed by Rhian Bowley

Somewhere in these pages was a story I could have loved, with characters I cared about. But both got lost amidst the relentless world-hopping and cumulative misogyny. What a shame.

I really liked The Magicians. Still do. It took the childhood stories that shaped me, added clever, modern writing and created a new classic. In this sequel we’re back with the same characters, now kings and queens of Fillory. But Quentin’s a bit bored, and fancies some adventure…

Before long he’s messed things up and ends up back in the real world. He and Julia get a road trip across the globe while they try to return to Fillory, crossing through Julia’s old haunts to a beautifully described, magical Venice. For a while the book was great ‘ Grossman writes wonderfully, handling sharp prose and pop-culture references almost as well as Bret Easton Ellis. But it just didn’t stop. Quentin got lost again. And again. Great characters old and new got hauled in for plot rescues and then left silent. What a waste of Eliot, Josh and the brilliantly named swordsman, Bingle. And all of the women.

Quentin is a classic Gen X, never-grown-up, worthy of Coupland, and I like him. But Grossman fails to write women of the same standard. They are all ‘ literally ‘ either Madonnas or whores. They either die, or are shagged, or have to become inhuman to earn happiness. Often all three. Do read The Magicians, it’s great. I can’t recommend this one — it will take you to lots of places but leave you nowhere. Especially if you’re female.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman. William Heinemann ‘12.99

Reviewed by Rhian Bowley

Somewhere in these pages was a story I could have loved, with characters I cared about. But both got lost amidst the relentless world-hopping and cumulative misogyny. What a shame.

I really liked The Magicians. Still do. It took the childhood stories that shaped me, added clever, modern writing and created a new classic. In this sequel we’re back with the same characters, now kings and queens of Fillory. But Quentin’s a bit bored, and fancies some adventure…

Before long he’s messed things up and ends up back in the real world. He and Julia get a road trip across the globe while they try to return to Fillory, crossing through Julia’s old haunts to a beautifully described, magical Venice. For a while the book was great ‘ Grossman writes wonderfully, handling sharp prose and pop-culture references almost as well as Bret Easton Ellis. But it just didn’t stop. Quentin got lost again. And again. Great characters old and new got hauled in for plot rescues and then left silent. What a waste of Eliot, Josh and the brilliantly named swordsman, Bingle. And all of the women.

Quentin is a classic Gen X, never-grown-up, worthy of Coupland, and I like him. But Grossman fails to write women of the same standard. They are all ‘ literally ‘ either Madonnas or whores. They either die, or are shagged, or have to become inhuman to earn happiness. Often all three. Do read The Magicians, it’s great. I can’t recommend this one — it will take you to lots of places but leave you nowhere. Especially if you’re female.

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. » The Magician King by Lev Grossman rhian bowley's blog
  2. » Quick Quick Slow rhian bowley's blog

Comments are closed.