The Magician King, by Lev Grossman

I finished reading Lev Grossman’s The Magician King over the weekend. As the sequel to The Magicians, it picks up a few years after Quentin returns to Fillory with Eliot, Julia and Janet. He and the other three are the four kings and queens of Fillory, and they have it pretty darn good. But, as Quentin wouldn’t be Quentin without some amount of dissatisfaction, King Quentin is looking for something more than what he’s got. And boy, does he get it. Along the way, we find out much more about Julia, which is interesting and drives the plot from a distance.

I have to say, I liked The Magician King much better than The Magicians. In retrospect, it seems that The Magicians was all lead-up to the events that happen in the sequel. Grossman also lost his tendency to skip big gaps of time and leave out details until they are immediately important (i.e. the fourth years disappearing in The Magicians was never mentioned until it was time for Quentin to disappear himself). Some of the ending is disturbing – I won’t go into detail for fear of spoilers – but I’m still not sure how I feel about some of Julia’s story.

Overall, The Magician King was a great read. I’m glad I picked it up and didn’t let my misgivings with its prequel deter me. I would definitely recommend it!


American Gods, Neil Gaiman

Okay. I’ve been attempting to read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for what feels like forever. I can’t get through it. Maybe if I had more time (it’s already way overdue at the library), I would venture onwards. Maybe not.

It’s a mind-bender, that’s for sure. The characters are realistic (in a sense) and the world is rendered beautifully to make it feel very normal at times. But then there’s the fact that several (most) of the main characters are either ancient gods or, in one case, dead. There are odd trips away from the “real” world to foray into what I can only describe as ‘god-land,’ in which accurate descriptions are apparently difficult. Well, whispers the English major in me, that’s clearly a way to force the reader to identify more closely with the main character, Shadow, who as a human is equally as confused as you are right now. He’s probably freaking out more than you are, despite the fact that he seems amazingly even-keel about the whole thing. Thanks, Major English, for whipping me back into shape.

Anyway, it was too much. I couldn’t feel the thread of the story taking me anywhere. The only thing that pulls all the odd disparate elements together is this idea that “there’s a storm coming,” which is, at best, vague and unhelpful though slightly ominous. Honestly, it makes me feel like there’s an old wizened Southern man in flannel and overalls speaking to me around the piece of wheat in his mouth, or perhaps a hand-rolled cigarette.

Anyway, I gave it up in favor of The Magician King by Lev Grossman, which is the sequel to The Magicians. In a sense, the books are similar in that they bring fantasy into “normal” life. But at least I’m finding The Magician King an interesting read that doesn’t completely gross me out every 15 pages or so.