The Magician’s Land: A Novel by Lev Grossman (New York: Viking Press, 2014. 401 pp)
Born in 1969, Lev Grossman has a degree in literature from Harvard, and spent three years at Yale in the Ph.D. program in comparative literature. He writes for TIME as their book reviewer and as one of its technology writers. Codex (2004) became an international bestseller, and The Magicians (2009) was named one of the best books of 2009 by The New Yorker. In August of 2001, he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He also has a wife and two daughters.
Leaving Fillory Behind
Our hero, Quentin Coldwater, has lost everything since the last installment of the Magician’s trilogy. His friends and his childhood world of Fillory are now restricted to him. Naturally, in order to cope, Quentin embarks on a quest that hits a little close to his former home of Fillory.
“He’d said good-bye and buried them and mourned them — the Chatwins. Fillory, Plover, Whiespire — but there must still be some last invisible unbroken strand connecting them to him. Something deeper than mourning. The wound had healed, but the scar wouldn’t fade, not quite. Quentin felt like an addict who’d just caught the faintest whiff of his drug of choice, the pure stuff, after a long time sober, and he felt his imminent relapse coming on with a mixture of despair and anticipation” (14).
While Quentin is going through his adventure in the real world, seeking (stealing) a Chatwin-owned bag, teaching at Brakebills, visiting the southern location and the like, his friends in Fillory are having an adventure of their own.
“ ‘The [end] of everything,’ Ember said, ‘Of this land. This world. Fillory is drying.’
‘What? Oh come on!’ That was ridiculous A cheap shot, at best. Fillory wasn’t dying. Fillory was kicking ass right now. Time of legends! World without end! ‘What are you talking about?’
Ember didn’t reply. Instead the Pegasus spoke for the first time. Eliot had never heard one speak before.
‘Oh no,’ it said. It gave a horsey sigh. ‘Not again’” (64).
What happens along the way is simply enthralling. The Magicians books have been a wonderful, mysterious, Harry-Potter-Narnia-esque narrative that entertains thoroughly. What so many trilogies forget, especially the last in the installment, is to resolve everything. Grossman excels in this area. No stone is left unturned, and no mystery left unsolved. The reader finds out all the answers to questions posed in the previous two novels. Quentin becomes a master magician.
Quentin’s shortcomings have been altogether annoying throughout the last two books. His shortcomings as a magician in addition to his shortcomings in regard to personality have been infuriating as a reader. Luckily, he grows up in The Magician’s Land, but is still Quentin. No longer defined by his teenager-like angst, he instead defines situations by a positive attitude. Perhaps even though he left Fillory, the lessons he learned in that magical land didn’t leave him.
More to the point, the other characters have grown up as well—Elliot and Janet chief among them. Their time as King and Queen respectively has changed them into magicians that should be feared. The magicians that once were learning at Brakebills have begun to learn the real lessons of life.
In this final installment of this beloved trilogy, you’ll find that the end can be seen as a new beginning. Grossman masterfully ties everything together in The Magician’s Land and gives the series the ending it deserves.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
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