Posted by: markfender | November 18, 2014

The Magician’s Land

This book came out awhile ago. I just never got around to reading it.

magicianslandThe Magician’s Land is the final book in Grossman’s Magicians series. It completes the story of Quentin Coldwater and friends as they struggle to save Fillory, the Narnia stand-in, from the apocalypse. Grossman continues to work in all the pop culture he can possibly find into his series (It is a universe in which Harry Potter exists, even as the main character’s revolve around a magical university. And yet, Narnia seems to be the only cultural touchstone that doesn’t exist in the book’s universe).

I thought the story this time around was better than in the last book. I liked Julia’s story from the last one, but found the Quentin stuff to be dull and, in places, infuriating. Those problems seem to have disappeared as Quentin grows up and accepts his adult life. We again revisit old characters from the first book in new ways, and get a big dramatic send-off at the end. The story is quickly told and breezes along on a skin of pop references, interspersing small character moments into the ongoing narrative.

Maybe it’s just the themes of this book, but I think the series has shifted from where it originally began. Originally, it felt like all Bret Easton Ellis’ version of Harry Potter. Now, it feels like a hyper-aware pop culture morass of influences. That could be an unfair assumption, as it’s no secret that the first book was piling in as many themes from those classic stories as possible. But I think the first book used them in a different manner than I’d seen before. It was aware of what it was doing, but did it with a sense of gravity. I don’t feel like that’s necessarily true anymore. That could be a change in the writing style, but it could also be a change in the character’s outlook as well (Or, it could be both). So, I don’t necessarily want to criticize the series for that change, as it could be a very deliberate shift. And I think Grossman is a good enough writer to be aware of that shift and to consciously make it. But, I can also say that I enjoyed the original tone more and so this newer, hipper book wasn’t as fulfilling as I found the first one. I guess I just prefer ennui.

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