The Magician King is Lev Grossman's follow up to The Magicians and continues to follow the main character from the first book through this next stage of his life. You can take a look see at how I felt about the first book and then compare it to this one, but I'm hoping that the ultimate reason that this one is more lukewarm is because there is more to the story and that this volume is merely the middle-book, and therefore is somehow required by the gods of trilology to have that slightly lost, infill feeling to it.
While the ending of the The Magicians made it pretty clear that there not only could be a sequel, but that there probably was a sequel in the works is not much of a spoiler, but after finishing this one its not so clear that this is a trilogy in the making. Of course, a little digging 'round the innernets may shed some light, but don't click here unless you want to learn more than you bargained for. that's right spoiler haters; I'm talkin' to you.
So, on to The 'King. Now don't get me wrong here, I liked it. But there does seem to be something about the middle books in series that tend to make them less stellar when stood up next to the initial and the ultimate volumes. I understand that there is some business that needs to be taken care of; some nest feathering and accounting that has to go on. And it happens to the best of them. The Two Towers for example, is not the best of the three LOTR books, right?
Some other examples where I've pointed this out:
Heretics of Dune (book 5, or the middle book in the second trilogy)
Dune Messiah (book 2) yeah, I'm looking at you, Frank Herbert
Well, based on my quickie look through my past blog entries, it seems I've just compare Lev Grossman to one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. Yer welcome Lev, and there goes my theory. Back to the review!!!
Grossman has done us all a service here, and cleared up one of the shockers from the first story, but of course I'm not going to tell you which one. And has helped to fill in some of the blanks in the original story that we were left to wonder about, but not all of them. And of course, he's gone and added some new ones for us to wonder about and hope that he will decide to get back to us with another installment.
See? This is what I get for giving up my tried and true method of trawling through the used books at the library book sale, and reading a new book. A book in a series that isn't yet complete! So now... that's right, I have to wait, like the rest of the suckers. Right, and I ain't getting near that Song of Ice and Fire - George R. R. Martin stuff until that man is done!
The story was fun, and the writing is very good, just like the first one. Grossman has created some very interesting characters, and developed them is ways that I couldn't foresee. He continues to poke his finger in the eyes of he predecessors and a way that is both funny and loving. good trick The narrative in this installment is non-linear, and therefore a little jerky, but it does what it needs to do and it does make for some cliffhanger-iness within the story. I burned through this book in no time.
Yeah... read this book. But maybe don't hurry, Lev's got some work to do. Who knows, maybe he'll write seven of them.*
* That's the number C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling wrote in their series!** hmmmm...
**Now if he changes his name to L.V. Grossman or something, I guess we'll have to worry.