The Magician King is a novel by Lev Grossman and follows after his other book, The Magicians. As this is a review of the second book of a series, there are some small spoilers of The Magicians. Reach my review of The Magicians.
The Magician King involves some of the same cast of characters from the first book including, Elliot, Janet, Quentin, and Julia who are now the four reigning monarchs of Fillory, a kingdom full of magic. In The Magician King, Quentin is not content just being a King of Fillory, he is forever longing for new and exciting adventures. In fact, he has spent his entire life trying to achieve heroism.
Finally, Quentin decides to create an adventure by sailing off to the outer regions of Fillory and collecting back taxes from a small island. Once there Quentin’s true adventure begins. But the most exciting thing in The Magician King is that the narration of the story switches back and forth between Quentin and Julia, who joined him on his sailing adventure. Julia is not a Brakebills College trained magician, having learned her magic from the underground scene. She is considered a hedge witch, full of angry magic and imprecise hand gestures that produce powerful results. Because the point of view switches, the reader is taken on a journey of Julia’s past, how she hunted down magic, how it consumed her, and altered her. It is dark, thrilling, and just plain awesome.
I LOVED Julia’s story. I was far more intrigued by the underground network of hedge witches. The concept of searching archaic pieces of computer lore and notebooks full of lined papers was novel and intriguing. Lev Grossman brings together religious concepts, magic, and technology themes in a mind blowing story that remains sincere in the emotions of his complex and flawed characters. I ended up enjoying The Magician King even better than The Magicians because it delves into a new perspective on what magic is, where it comes from, and what it means to different people. Truly, a well written, amazing piece of literature.