Friday, 23 September 2016

What do I do if It Was Fantastic But I Couldn't Finish it? - The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Discussion)

The Magician King

by Lev Grossman

Released: 9th August 2011
Publisher: William Heinemann
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Maybe Romance?
Other books by Lev Grossman:
The Magicians
The Connector (Non-Fiction)
Goodreads Description:
The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.
Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.
The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the cutting edge of literary fantasy.


I mentioned The Magician King recently in my “Top Ten Fantasy Books” as my second favourite fantasy book. At this point I was about three quarters of my way through it and confident as hell that it was going to be one of my favourites. Everything about it was perfect: the writing; the imagination; the setting; the ridiculously, amazingly complex and interesting characters. All my friends knew about Fillory and it’s fortune telling hares and islands where everyone was grumpy yorkshiremen. But what happens when I get 100 pages off finishing and just can’t go on any more?

I’d been trying to finish the final 150/200 pages for a week and found myself slowly falling into a reading slump. I don’t regret putting the book down and leaving it be, but how can I possibly review it? Do I give it 5* for the inspiring first three quarters that had me drawing, writing and making music again, that gave me my sadly missed imagination back again, or do I give it 2* because I couldn’t finish it? I could go half way and give it 3.5* but that doesn’t feel quite right. You don’t give such a life-changing book such a small rating, however you also don’t give a book that you couldn’t finish such a high rating.

You might have encountered a book like this before – it’s engaging and exciting for the first three quarters but drags on forever in the later parts – I sure have, but usually the engaging and exciting parts aren’t quite this engaging and exciting. The damn book took over my mind for the couple of weeks I read it over, guarding every move I made. I can’t rate it low! But also… I can’t exactly rate it high. It’s almost as if I read two different books, the first being a fantastic, creative, inspiring fantasy classic, the other being a dull, wannabe urban fantasy. GUYS! I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

I don’t know whether to recommend The Magician King or not. Read the other reviews. I have a feeling this will have to be the first instance in which I really can’t supply an opinion, not because I have none, but because I have too many!

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Abi Ainley

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