I never finished reviewing this trilogy from my initial read. The Magician's Land was published in 2014 and I was on a blogging hiatus at that point. I think the only one from the set that was truly blogged about here was The Magician King. I've been trying to remember my initial reactions to this trilogy. I guess it's enough to note that I bought all three of these in hardback. So, I liked them and planned to read them again. And read them again I did.
I re-read The Magicians in September 2017. Took the wrong book on the cruise we went on in October of last year and didn't pick up the 2nd, The Magician King, until February of this year. And I just finished The Magician's Land in June.
In the time since their initial publication, the books have been adapted for a television series on SyFy. I think they've wrapped up their third season. I've only seen 1 and 2 on Netflix. Which has caused me to have some confused overlap in the changes they made from page to screen. (Some of the character choices were more interesting to me on the TV show, some of the novel's plot developments were far more interesting and the TV show changed them or dropped them entirely. Overall, though, I think it's a pretty fun show).
The series of books though, we're here to talk about those. I remember reading them the first time with a burning passion. A need to devour the pages. The second time around I found myself more melancholy, slower to make my way through them. Maybe the 4-year gap, my age, and continued disillusionment with how my own life has progressed made Quentin's story less about escapism and more a reflection. I still find that it is a beautiful story. As a fantasy, it is unique that the main character deals with real consequences that cannot be undone. The redemption arc for Quentin feels earned. Unlike my typical YA Fantasy main characters, Quentin is in his 30s at the end of this trilogy. And when the scope of the story he's involved in is revealed to him, he has a mature response to it. He does what is needed and then fades out. He starts out as a kid, very focused on himself, and over the 15 years or so of the series, he begins to understand himself as a piece of the larger framework rather than just being fixated on his own shortcomings.
In the final installment, Quentin deals with the grief of losing his father, finds new strength in his magical practice, confronts his greatest fear, and ushes Fillory into a new chapter. He becomes a mysterious figure to the students of Brakebills and truly creates something completely new.
Like The Magician's Land, this story is split to showcase some of the female characters' story arcs. In particular, Janet's story in the desert is ruthless and wonderful. At this stage in my life, Janet, Julie, and Plum's stories all resonated with me more. #MeToo and all the fallout surrounding it has caused a sensitivity in me. It's too tender to deal with sometimes. But these stories, written before the hugely public reckoning, they gave me some confidence of empowerment. I think maybe I'm not articulating this well. I think I'm trying to say that whenever you see a story of a woman overcoming the attempted derailment of her life it is encouraging and beautiful. Like Hannah Gadsby said, "There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.” I'm glad Lev Grossman made the space to tell their stories, too and didn't only focus on Quentin.
Really, though, the part that stands out to me most from The Magician's Land is when Quentin and Plum travel to Antartica as whales. I'm not sure why I love it so much? Maybe because the feeling of moving powerfully through water is something I love? Maybe because Grossman alludes to some other big story stuff? My friend Garrett asked Grossman to write a whole book of that section in his Goodreads review. And I agree. We could go for that.
Whales are so amazing. Thinking about that part of the story just brings some peace to me. Here's a little ocean for you:
Anyway, I think that's all I have to say right now about these stories. If they piqued your interest, but you're not totally sure, I'd be more than happy to talk about them with you :) If nothing else, read them for the whales.