After the events of The Magician King, Quentin Coldwater is back in the real world, making ends meet as a professor at the magical school Brakebills and coming to terms with the fact that he will never see Fillory again. But after a sequence of events sees Quentin unceremoniously booted from his position, he decides to take a job with a group of magical thieves charged with stealing something impossible. But Fillory might not be done with Quentin just yet, and his old life and his new intersect in ways that he wouldn’t have thought possible as he truly finds himself once and for all.
A gorgeous and heartbreaking finale to one of the most innovative fantasy trilogies in recent memory, it’s hard to heap enough praise on this stellar conclusion. It’s rare that trilogies just get better with each installment, yet Grossman managed that masterfully with The Magician’s Land, and readers will be left with the feeling that, for once, a beloved series was wrapped up in the best way possible.
When I first read The Magicians by Lev Grossman, I honestly wasn’t a huge fan. I didn’t necessarily dislike the book, but I didn’t understand what it was that made everyone else love the book. It felt derivative and I just didn’t get what was so magical about it. But the feeling that I was missing something huge kept nagging at me, so eventually I went back and reread it, and this time, I fell in love.
I realized that it was an homage, a testament to the books that Grossman (and I) grew up reading and loving. It’s a love letter to these books, yes, but there’s more. There’s been a lot of talk in the media about YA versus adult books and “serious” literature, and people decrying adults finding satisfaction in reading YA novels. With The Magicians trilogy, Grossman is giving the reader permission to revel in the glories of these childhood novels. And not just permission: He’s celebrating that it’s a great time to be a reader, and it’s okay to love the books you love.
I raced through The Magician’s Land, the second book in the trilogy, before finally picking up The Magician King. I couldn’t believe that The Magician King was even better than the first book in the trilogy, but so often, I’d been disappointed by the way authors chose to sign off their series. Would The Magician’s Land measure up? Of course it would.
It’s amazing just how much Quentin has grown up since the first pages of The Magicians. His character has come on such a journey; he’s had highs and lows, been at the top of the world and the bottom of it. While other novels in the trilogy were about Quentin, they had other characters at their centers to show the reader just how far Quentin had to come. Now, in The Magician’s Land, he’s finally there. Quentin has accepted himself as he truly is, even in cases where what he truly is might be kind of embarrassing (such as his magical specialty). Quentin’s always been a little bit of an antihero, so now it’s nice to finally see him accept that he may not be the hero of his own story, and to see how he tries to grapple with that.
The Magician’s Land has a lot going on; it’s not just tying up a trilogy, but presents its own adventure. Beloved characters pop up here and there, and it’s nice to get some answers to questions that have been lingering over Fillory. The story jumps through time, filling in gaps, but Grossman never makes it confusing or difficult. He keeps the reader hooked from the very first page, taking them through surprising and shocking twists and turns as he brings this magical trilogy to a close. What a ride this series was and what an ending Grossman gave us—a beautiful love letter to all things bookish.
Other books by Lev Grossman: