The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Viking Books)-The Magician King picks up 5 years after the events of The Magicians, and Quentin is finally a King of Fillory. Well, one of them. Along with Eliot (the High King), Janet, and Julia, he rules Fillory and its inhabitants. The days are full of pleasure and peace, yet Quentin is still a bit restless. Truth is, he’s rather bored. Fillory is filled with wonder and magic, but it isn’t particularly filled with strife, and its inhabitants have most everything they need. This peace is shattered, however, when their hunting guide is killed during a hunt for the Seeing Hare. The discussion over his death prompts the Brakebills to discuss their lack of usefulness, and desperate for something to do, Quentin offers to sail to the Outer Islands to inquire about a tax matter. Yep, a tax matter. Seems trivial, yes? To Quentin, however, it’s a way to feel useful, an adventure, and hopefully, a way to bring the brooding, moody Julia out of her shell. A charming but relatively event free trip ensues, until he is told about a golden key, and its possible location on an island with the unlikely name of After. Quentin decides to set off for After to find the golden key, and that’s where Quentin gets a little more than he bargained for. Namely, a trip right back to Brooklyn and no easy way back to Fillory. He’ll also discover that there’s a magical underground completely separate from Brakebills, and it’s also where Julia cut her teeth on magic. As Julia and Quentin desperately try to find their way back to Fillory, we get some insight into what Julia went through after failing the entrance exam to Brakebills. Julia is a little “off”, to say the least, and her quest to practice magic has completely consumed her. Paired with a genius IQ and OCD tendencies, this makes for a rather volatile combo, and a condition that Quentin is increasingly doubtful he can get through.
Quentin and Julia’s journey will take them through portals all over the world, to Italy, where they meet an old friend (and a dragon), and eventually, to the Chatwin house, in Cornwall, where the Chatwin children first discovered Fillory, and where they hope to find a doorway back to the world that they now call home. The Magician King is just as much Julia’s story as it is Quentin’s, and it’s not a pretty one, but it’s hers, and you’ll certainly gain a new found appreciation as to why Julia is determined to hold on to Fillory so fiercely. I loved The Magician King as much as The Magicians, and found myself thinking (and dreaming) about it, long after I finished the last page.