Far Overdue Review — The Magicians

September 15, 2012

Remember how I read Lev Grossman’s The Magician King and only realized that it was a sequel after I was 3/4 of the way through the book?

Remember how I then went back and read The Magicians, the first book, and promised that review would be forthcoming? I’m finally making good on that promise. Better late than never, I say.

Given my unorthodox sequence of reading, The Magicians filled in a lot of gaps for me. It helped me understand some of the characters and settings much better and put a lot of things into perspective. That being said, it also undermined and confused a lot of my perceptions.

There are some things I simply cannot reconcile now that I’ve read both books, and I’d be curious to see how others who read them in order feel about them.

Exhibit A: In The Magician King, Janet is snide and smug. Maybe not the most likeable character of the group, but decidedly part of it. In The Magicians, she is that and so much more. She is manipulative and conniving, and her actions nearly have some very dire consequences. How do things go from so bad to hunky-dory?

I said in my review of The Magician King that some parts just felt — for lack of a better word — improbable, and that observation carries through to The Magicians as well. The background, with the introduction of the school and the big players, as well as more of the back-story helped to some degree, but some aspects were lacking.

There’s a gap between the end of The Magicians and the beginning of The Magician King, and that could be a contributing factor to my lack of satisfaction and feeling of unease. They leave Fillory in shambles and The Magician King picks up with it as an idyllic fairy-land. Grossman needs to fill in the gaps.

Despite my whining, I really did like The Magicians, though I think I enjoyed the sequel more. If I could do it all over again, I’d probably read the books in order and maybe I’d be less confused/disillusioned? I suppose we’ll never know. Grossman managed to build a great premise though, and it kept me reading. I think the pros far outweigh my nitpicky cons.

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