The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (Viking, August 5th, 2014)-After Quentin Coldwater gets bounced from Fillory (quite rapidly and unceremoniously), he seeks out a teaching position at Brakebills, and finds that he actually rather likes it. Then his father dies, and he takes time out of teaching to help his mother tie up loose ends. Quentin was never close to his father, never close to either parents, really, but it’s his duty, and he’s determined to make things easier for his mother. After he wraps things up there, he returns to Brakebills and immerses himself again in his teaching duty, but almost as suddenly as he’s expelled from Fillory, the same happens at Brakebills, and again he’s adrift, but not without terrible knowledge about someone from his past, and an expelled student, Plum, at his side. They soon take a job that promises a big payday, but the risk is very high. However, it offers a certain amount of freedom for both Quentin and Plum.
Meanwhile, in Fillory, the Lorians are invading, and Eliot takes it upon himself to push back the hoard, but that’s not the end of it, and Eliot and Janet are told that some pretty bad badness is on the way, and to prepare for the worst. Fillory is no longer the stable place it once was, and Eliot and Janet will soon have to go on their most important quest yet.
It’s been a little while since I read The Magician King, and I kind of wish I’d reread it before starting this one. It took me a bit to get back in the swing of things, but once I did, whoaaaaa, guys and gals. Quentin is quite a bit older and wiser, but even so, I think he did much more growing up in this book than in the first two. He went through an extensive period of longing to return to Fillory, but things are much different now. His former student/new friend Plum is a delight and she has an interesting connection to Fillory that will prove to be quite important. And then there’s Alice. Remember Alice? Remember what happened to Alice? Welll…she’s sorta back (in a manner of speaking), and Quentin’s plans mostly revolve around her.
The Magician’s Land is made up of the same gorgeous writing that you’ve come to expect from Lev Grossman, and he has a particular gift for imagery. The whale scenes, ya’ll…the whale scenes. If it seems like I’m holding back, I am, because to reveal too much would be to spoil the absolute gift that is this book. I really liked the first two, but I LOVED this one. The narrative bounces back and forth from Janet and Eliot’s new, and most important, quest in Fillory, to Quentin on Earth, and so many questions are answered. Still dying to know what Quentin’s specialty is? Grossman’s got you covered, and in the first few pages, no less! Anxious to find out what really happened to the Chatwin kids? Check! Lev Grossman’s imagination knows no bounds, and it’s never been on better display than in The Magician’s Land. There’s also plenty of the nerdtastic pop culture references that makes these books so much fun, but they’re much more than that. This is a fantastical, wondrous, rich, and yes, magical adventure, and the perfect end to a very special trilogy. If you haven’t discovered The Magicians, read them all. Read them all now. Contemporary fantasy really doesn’t get much better than this. It’s just..fantastic, in just about every way.