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  #1  
Old 09-09-2011, 09:37 PM
Doctor Who Doctor Who is offline
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The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Just finished it. Still processing. Anybody else reading/read this book?

I liked it better than the first book, and was surprised that I didn't see a thread here. I will say (without spoiling anything) there is one controversial scene in the book. I found it horrifying, but I think it fit well with the narrative. Others (based on my Internet reading) would passionately disagree with me.

If you've read it... Thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 09-09-2011, 10:27 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by Doctor Who View Post
I liked it better than the first book, and was surprised that I didn't see a thread here.
Hadn't realized it existed or that Grossman had even planned a sequel ( despite the obvious opening he left in the last one ), so thanks for letting me know . I have to say I had mixed feelings about the first, which I found simultaneously enjoyable and aggravating as I detailed here, so I'm a little uncertain how I feel about taking on this one.

But I'm sure I will eventually. If this thread still has any residual life by the time I do I'll try to come back and comment.
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Old 09-09-2011, 10:52 PM
Athena Athena is online now
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Just got this from the library today; I had no idea a sequel was planned (much less out) until I saw it on the shelf.

I liked the first one OK. Not my fav book ever, but a good read, and I'm looking forward to the sequel. I'm even more looking forward to it now that I hear at least one person (the OP) thinks it's better than the first.
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  #4  
Old 09-10-2011, 02:20 AM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is online now
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I loved the first one and while I enjoyed this one, I felt a little let down. The ending seemed rushed to me. Also, I felt their wasn't as much magic use. I got bored hearing about Julia's journey and wanted to get back to Quentin taking on the fort with his spells.

I'm not sure how spoilerific you want to get. I've been meaning to start this thread but I am very lazy.
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  #5  
Old 09-10-2011, 11:19 PM
delphica delphica is offline
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I enjoyed it a lot. I was also a fan of the first one (I guess that's obvious, because who reads a sequel to a book they didn't like?)

Sort of coincidentally, I'm reading Game of Thrones right after finishing The Magician King. I don't read a lot of adult fantasy, but was a huge fan of children's fantasy (Narnia, Susan Cooper, etc) when I was a child. I spend a weird amount of time pondering why that is.

I like the Lev Grossman books so much because they feel to me what magic would really be like if you were an adult, only with magic. So anyway, back to Game of Thrones, I am enjoying it, but I can't help but notice that it's very ... earnest and well, even the dwarf guy who is the wittiest is always earnestly witty. He's making quips, for heaven's sake. In contrast, I find the Magicians books hilarious because when the characters are being funny, they're like stupid frat boys.

I'm not putting it in spoilers, because it's right at the beginning, when the characters are trying to figure out what killed that one guy, Eliot is talking about a family of nobles, and by way of explaining he doesn't believe they were behind the death, he says that they wouldn't have done it, rather, they "think we're dicks." In most other fantasy novels I have read, no one's motivation (or lack of motivation) is ascribed to thinking their rivals are a bunch of dicks.

More specific comments in the spoilers tag:
SPOILER:

I couldn't get as into Julia's backstory as I wanted to ... it was pretty interesting, how people found magic without Brakebills, but I never felt as emotionally invested in it as I think it was intended.

The backstory I really wanted was the Outer Island and Elaine and Eleanor. I know Elaine ended up being the daughter of that guy, but I am wanting more detail.

Unexpectedly, I found the scene with Penny very compelling and sad, which surprised me, because I generally found him tiresome in the first book. I know the characters find him tiresome, but you know what I mean, I didn't find him that well-written previously.

I was thrilled to see the return of Josh (he's my favorite) but I was disappointed there wasn't more with Janet. Next book, I imagine. In the first book, I was super interested in why she was so sickly in the Neitherlands (like Jadis from Narnia) and was hoping that would come up as a plot point.

Overall I was okay with the ending, but a little that there was such a big deal about inviting the people to go to the flip side of Fillory, and then there is a big mishegas about not letting the people who actually want to go, go. Don't make a grand, sweeping invitation and then have quibbles about half the people who accept it.
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:34 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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10% of the way into the sequel I almost gave up as the book was just excruciatingly awful. But I was told it would get better.

And it did. But in the end I quite liked everything not in Fillory and pretty much hated anything (except the last few pages) that were actually in Fillory. I was just so-so on the first book but wanted to continue with it because I find the structure of the magical world interesting but at this point I don't think I find anything else about it interesting enough to continue with any additional books.

I have no idea what scene might have been controversial and horrifying.
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Old 09-11-2011, 04:17 PM
Doctor Who Doctor Who is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obfusciatrist View Post
I have no idea what scene might have been controversial and horrifying.
Really?
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  #8  
Old 09-11-2011, 04:26 PM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Who View Post
Really?
It took me a second to figure out what it was supposed to be

SPOILER:
it was the god-rape, right?
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  #9  
Old 09-11-2011, 05:31 PM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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Oh, that.

I suppose in real life it would be horrifying. In fiction, not so much. Gods are always doing shit like that in stories.

They may always be doing it in real life, too, but are better at covering their tracks than in stories.
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  #10  
Old 09-11-2011, 05:51 PM
Eonwe Eonwe is offline
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I was just wondering if/when this was coming out.

I liked the first book quite a bit (read it just this spring). I went back to the thread Tamerlane referenced, and I totally get a lot of the criticism wrt the likability of the characters, but what caught me so much about the book was that I've been those people (for better or worse) and I've had the dream they are living.

I never felt much affinity for Harry Potter or any of the characters in Rowling's books, but Grossman's characters I grok.

Maybe in the same way (to borrow Tamerlane's analogy) that I liked Catcher in the Rye, not because I agreed with Holden Caulfield, but because I identified with feeling the way he felt.
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  #11  
Old 09-11-2011, 08:16 PM
Doctor Who Doctor Who is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandMcnally View Post
It took me a second to figure out what it was supposed to be

SPOILER:
it was the god-rape, right?
Yeah that's the one. There was no thread here on the Dope when I finished the book so I was forced to look for alternative places where people have discussed the book. Those alternative places (eg goodreads) seem pretty worked up about it. Sorry to get somewhat snarky on you there, obfusciatrist. I thought it was obvious, but I guess it was just obvious to me.
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  #12  
Old 09-11-2011, 08:47 PM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is offline
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I liked it overall but not as much as the first book. I thought the sequel was better structurally, though. Grossman's shown considerable growth as a novelist with this one.

I thought Julia's character was not done very well. We already did the irresponsible, immature young adult thing with Quentin in the first book. A rehash with even more dire consequences wasn't necessary. I did appreciate that Quentin seemed to have grown up a bit, but I don't know why Grossman feels the need to constantly dump unpleasant events on his protagonist.

I'd like to know if Grossman is even capable of writing a fundamentally likable character. Neither Julia nor Quentin were likable, though you could sympathize with them. Sure, Poppy doesn't have the depressed emo thing going, but she's not actually all that likable, either. Likewise Penny. He's still an unctuous ass. And every world seems filled with people (or gods) who seems to "know better" but can't be bothered much with pity or even sympathy even while screwing people over.

On the plus side, Brakebills was ultimately right about Julia. She might have had talent, but she showed time and time again that she had some fundamental faults that any magical training would simply exacerbate.
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  #13  
Old 09-11-2011, 10:00 PM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is online now
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I actually really liked Quentin, but that's just because I really identified with him. I found him very believable because I could see myself acting like that. As you can assume those are some personality faults I'm working really hard to fix.

I don't get why we were supposed to feel sympathy for Julia (were we) or why Quentin felt so guilty about her. When Julia talked about the test at Brakebills I don't see why she deserved to be at that school. It wasn't as if they treated her unfairly. She completely bombed the test, and doing so showed why she shouldn't be there. And besides, do you really want someone who'll completely use people to get whatever she wants to have magical powers?

SPOILER:
I wasn't thrown aback by the god-rape because he specifically said she'd have to give her body to him. Plus, god-animals have been known to have sex with women in mythology.

There better be a sequel because I hated the ending. Him getting kicked out came out of nowhere. And just a few chapters earlier Poppy was adamant about going back to earth, even when Quentin could have given her anything, but when he has to go back she decides to stay?

The turning of the keys were very anticlimactic. So we have gods destroying the magic world and because the seven keys were turned they're not? Why not? Did they get distracted? Maybe it was explained and I just missed it.

If there is a third I think we'll see Alice again. She didn't really "die" plus we've seen nearly every other character again.

Last edited by RandMcnally; 09-11-2011 at 10:01 PM..
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  #14  
Old 09-12-2011, 12:34 PM
JSexton JSexton is offline
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I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the structure was terrific, as Julia's past and Quentin's present were on this collision course. The turning of the keys was kinda anticlimactic, but that's sort of par for the course for Grossman.
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Old 09-15-2011, 05:21 PM
Athena Athena is online now
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I really liked it, too, though I wish I'd re-read the first book before reading this one. I couldn't remember a whole lot of the first one, which made some parts of this one confusing.

I enjoyed the Julia parts more than the Quentin parts, though I liked them both. I thought seeing the other side of the whole magic thing was really interesting. The controversial scene mentioned above was not at all a big deal to me; as others said, it's pretty much par for the course for that type of thing.

Now I'm hoping he'll write another one.
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  #16  
Old 09-28-2011, 12:22 AM
Glory Glory is offline
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Liked it even better than the first book.
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  #17  
Old 09-29-2011, 01:38 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I really liked it - I think it held together better than the first one, which had a kind of sucky fourth quarter. I did kind of feel it was a revisit to a similar structure, and the endpoint with the god was an awful lot like one in the last book. I enjoyed Julia's story, though, and kept wanting them to get back to it.

I agree that nobody's exactly likeable, but they're all pretty understandable.
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  #18  
Old 12-05-2012, 11:09 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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I was thinking about the end of this book today, though I read it sometime last year. Specifically, I began to ponder something that I see was addressed briefly in this thread: do many people agree with RandMcnally that what happened to Quentin was "out of nowhere"? I was surprised for about 10 seconds when I got to the end, then realized that it had to end that way given the books this series is riffing off of. Sure, this was a bit more harsh than what happened to the elder Pevensie children, but in the end it's the same idea. What did you think?
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  #19  
Old 12-06-2012, 12:20 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
do many people agree with RandMcnally that what happened to Quentin was "out of nowhere"? I was surprised for about 10 seconds when I got to the end, then realized that it had to end that way given the books this series is riffing off of. Sure, this was a bit more harsh than what happened to the elder Pevensie children, but in the end it's the same idea. What did you think?
Having finally gotten around to reading it ( and I actually did like it better than the first ), yeah I was unsurprised. And yes, I do think it fits in the theme.

But I still kinda thought it bit a little . Grossman isn't as gratuitously cruel to his characters as a China Mieville, but the treatment of Quentin ( who is getting better, if still annoying ) tweaked slightly. But more to the point it sort of broke my fourth wall, as I don't find the reactions of the characters to the situation all that realistic. Too calm, too fatalistic, too accepting of what are essentially mindless tit-for-tat rules. Too sudden, too neatly tied up. All of which I assume was intended. But my reaction in that scenario would have been vastly different - "no that isn't how being a 'hero' works you fucking pompous chattering sheep" . It frustrated me to the point of actual annoyance.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:27 AM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
I was thinking about the end of this book today, though I read it sometime last year. Specifically, I began to ponder something that I see was addressed briefly in this thread: do many people agree with RandMcnally that what happened to Quentin was "out of nowhere"? I was surprised for about 10 seconds when I got to the end, then realized that it had to end that way given the books this series is riffing off of. Sure, this was a bit more harsh than what happened to the elder Pevensie children, but in the end it's the same idea. What did you think?
After thinking on it for over a year, I recant my statement that Quentin getting kicked out came out of nowhere.


I still stand-by the other statements, though.
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  #21  
Old 12-06-2012, 12:29 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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Having this thread revived has highlighted something.

I know I read the book. I know I participated to some degree in this thread.

But as I sit here I can't remember a damned thing about the book itself. Guess it didn't stick with me.
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