Thursday, February 9, 2012

Audio Book review: The Magician King by Lev Grossman

How did I come into possession of this book?
This is a sequel to The Magicians which I read a couple years ago.  I had wanted to read The Magicians when it first came out, but I restrained myself from buying it until I found it at a used book store for a very good price.  Soon after I started reading it, RoB and I went to the LA Book Festival and Lev Grossman was speaking on one of the panels.  He was a little strange, but I guess to be a good fantasy writer you probably need to be a little strange.  After the panel he signed my book and RoB was suddenly interested in reading it once I was done.  I thought it was a good book but RoB was obsessed with it, he couldn't stop talking about it.  So, of course, as soon as the sequel came out he had to have it.  He read it and it has been lying around our house for a while but just when I was about to pick it up to read I saw the audiobook at the library and decided to try out that version.

What is it about?
A group of Magicians finds the land in which they dreamed of living since they were children.  They become Kings and Queens, but one of them, King Quentin, feels like he wants more.  He heads out to sea hoping to find a quest and ends up on an adventure he never wanted to take.

What did I think?
Everything about this book should appeal to me and it does, but for some reason I don't love these books as much as I should.  This one had a great story with just enough fantasy elements involved.  It also had a much more original story line than most fantasy stories.  I enjoy the way they are written, a little more sophisticated than a young adult fantasy book.  I think my biggest issue with these books is that I don't like any of the characters.  Quentin bothers me so much, he is so entitled and NEVER changes.  So I never feel bad for him if things go wrong, which they do, often.  Julia is not there mentally, and I never really felt bad for her before that either, she was just such a mess and a sob story.  None of the other characters have enough depth for me to ever connect with them so I feel a little empty.  Besides strongly disliking the characters I enjoyed the book, but all I could enjoy was the story.  The audio version of this book was good, the narrator kept my interest, however he didn't really do any different voices so it might be boring to some.

Who would I recommend it to?
This is a little tough.  I'd say if you like fantasy that borders on reality you would like this book.  Definitely read The Magicians first (which I would recommend to most sci-fi/fantasy fans), and if you like it read this one.  Even if it's not your favorite, the sequel deserves a chance since it is a good story and it seems like there will be a third which will hopefully bring closure to the series.  Just the fact that I know some are obsessed with these books and some or more meh (like me) I don't think I can pick out a specific type of person who would or wouldn't enjoy them.


  1. I've held off reading those books. Do you think they're Gaiman style? Or even like Jonathatn Strange and Mr. Norrell (which I loved

    By the way, I have a heck of a commute also and catch up on my classics from

    1. Sorry for the delay in my reply! I'd say Grossman is darker than Gaiman and he doesn't write with any humor (I'd consider Gaiman to have some dry humor, but I've only read one of his books). I have not read Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but after reading your review I definitely plan to!

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog today! I know what you mean about the characters in The Magicians and The Magician King. I liked both of the books a lot, but they are dark and I probably missed a bunch of references and inside jokes. I do prefer realistic fantasy (if that's a real term) to high fantasy.

    1. Another "realistic fantasy" author I've read is Nicholas Christopher. His book "A Trip to the Stars" was very realistic with a hint of fantasy (I don't even know if I'd call it fantasy, maybe just something else) but it made for a really great read!