Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lev Grossman's The Magician's Land: A Book Review

Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land stands as the closing book of the entertaining, magically based series. While the trilogy delivered in enjoyment, this third volume stood out as a book that lumbered on at times before finally delivering the final punch. Honestly, this book was a fun read, but lacked merit at times, and is thus difficult to write about.

The text begins with Fillory on the brink of collapse and the gods that govern it unwilling to help, the tension in one world is palpable. Yet at first the novel details Quentin’s quest to find meaning in a life devoid of Fillory. He is empty, sad, and characteristically mopey. He returns, of course, to the land of his magical education. For a time he serves as a professor, but due to a series of unfortunate events, the very type that always seem to follow the man, Quentin first finds himself fired from his job at Brakebills and then in the middle of a magical heist that almost ends his life.

While the text seems to lumber through the heist on one side and the impending end of Fillory on the other, Grossman’s strengths resurface as he places Quentin first into emotional combat with Plum, a descendent of the Chatwins, and then in magical conflict with Alice, who through no fluke, is brought back into human form. Plum, a student who was expelled from Brakebills in the same (sexless) incident that caused Quentin’s firing, pushes all the right buttons, and while Alice seems to play the role of the angry ex-elemental being and ex-girlfriend, she even breaks out of such constraints to take an active role in the epic battle that finishes off the text. Worlds are created, worlds are destroyed, and the novel, like all good stories, doesn’t quite end, but rather pauses as the characters ponder their future. In a way, one would not be surprised if Grossman were to return to this world later on and pick up the narrative path, then again, there is something perfectly magical about the final pages.