Friday, May 12, 2017

The Magician's Land - Lev Grossman

The Magician's Land
Title: The Magician's Land
Author: Lev Grossman
Publication Date: 8/5/14
Pages: 402
Genre: Fantasy / Fiction
How I Found It: I read the first two books in the series.
Date Completed: 4/28/17

Summary: Grossman's series about young magicians and their journeys to and from other worlds comes to its conclusion.

What I Thought: This series is so fascinating to me. The three books contain the same characters and are very directly intertwined. Yet, each book has a very different tone. The first centers largely around the Brakebills crew during their time at Brakebills, the magical college; it's dark and heavy with party atmosphere and the consequences thereof. The second book reads like a classic fantasy adventure, practically ripped from the mind of C. S. Lewis and the Narnia series; it's a seeker's journey. This third book, set practically a decade after we've first met our characters, feels different yet again.

Whether purposeful or not, Grossman has really captured the journey of young adulthood. In the beginning, Quentin is emotional and often irrational. He and his friends are typical college students, very rarely considering the consequences of their actions or relationships. They go through some terrible things until, at least, they seem settled on the thrones of Fillory. But, in the second book, it turns out that living such a scripted life is not all its cracked up to be for Quentin. He wants adventure. He misses the thrills of life before, perhaps because he's blocked out the traumas that came with them. So, he has an adventure and, in the end, finds himself alone and starting from square one.

Enter The Magician's Land

Quentin is by no means a perfect protagonist here. He carries with him some of his same faults and fears. However, he is vastly matured from when we first met him back pre-Brakebills. He is still searching for answers, but his search looks very different now. He's searching for relationship, not adventure. He's looking for a way to bring stability back to his life, even if he must throw out stability in order to get there. All of our characters have grown immensely. They are not nearly as selfish as they once were. Instead, they consider the fates of others and of whole worlds. They still have plenty of weaknesses, to be sure, but they have all come to better terms with who they are and their personal values. 

And, so it often is for young adults. The college years can feel tumultuous and uncertain, often bringing with them a plethora of bad decisions. Then, a relatively stable few years begins to feel too rote. Where is the adventure we had hoped for? What is the purpose of stability if it produces nothing? And so, the whole thing is thrown over again. This time, however, in a search for meaning and relationship, the protagonist is older and wiser and more understanding of what will truly satisfy. 

Maybe I'm reading too deeply into this, but the Quentin in this final book felt much more familiar to me as a almost 30 year old than he did in the previous books. Before, I found him whiny and difficult to feel sympathy for. Here, I know his journey, I see his desires, and I see can relate to them. That feeling of "what next and how do I get there?" feels very familiar to me right now. 

If you're here for the story itself and not a psychological analysis of it, don't worry. It's great. While I think The Magician King was my favorite of the three books from a strictly plot perspective, this one had some really fun elements. It blended the tone of the two very different first novels in a satisfying way. I liked the addition of Plum and the way everything got tied together in the end, even if it was a bit too packaged. In the end, things are settled and happy, though not perfect. The characters, especially Quentin, have come out the other side of this journey as better, stronger people, though all deeply scarred. It feels real, and I liked that. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful, but I want to keep watching the show now
Other Books By Lev Grossman: The Magicians / The Magician King

A Reduced Review: A perfect blending of the tones of the first two novels, I found this series finale a very satisfying end. 

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