All The Right Reads

Fiction Recommendation Experts

2023 Book Review: The Magician King

by Lev Grossman

A Fantasy, 2011 by William Heinemann, 548 Pages 

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Pacing is strange. Some parts really drag while others seem to zoom by, making the entire journey almost feel like limping.
  • There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this world. A few who didn’t play major roles in book 1 popped in just long enough to make me realize I didn’t remember them. Of course, I’m not reading them back-to-back. 
  • The references to popular fantasy worlds and stories were heavy handed and clunky. It’s almost like a wave and a shout of “us too” that feels like trying too hard. 
  • Quentin is the worst. He’s whiny and ungrateful. I sort of hoped he’d grow up and grow out of that for this sequel and he definitely didn’t. 
  • Content warning: graphic and awful rape scene. 

What I Did Like:

  • The backstory for Julia is (mostly) excellent! It contrasts wonderfully with the tale of the Brakebills crew and adds a layer of realism to the idea of magical training. I will say it takes a terrible and lazy turn though.
  • Quentin’s ending works. I liked the sort of unexpected twist and what that may do to the story. It’s one of those endings where you didn’t see it coming but then you look back on everything you know and realize you probably should have seen it coming. I like those. 

Who Should Read This One:

  • If you really loved the first book and characters, you may enjoy the way their journey continues even more than I did. 

My Rating: 2 Stars

  • For me the unlikeable main character, odd pacing, and graphic unnecessary scene made the entire book problematic.

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