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The Magician King    by Lev Grossman order for
Magician King
by Lev Grossman
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Lev Grossman's The Magicians seemed to be the kind of book that readers either loved or hated. If you loved it, you will definitely want to pick up its sequel, The Magician King. If you hated it, you might still want to give Grossman another try.

Two years have passed since Quenton, Julia, Elliot, and Janet became the kings and queens of Fillory. Those years were spent in idyllic luxury, but Quenton is growing bored - he wants a new quest. He thinks he'll find it in chasing the Seeing Hare, but all that brings is death to their Master of the Hunt. When the need arises to collect overdue taxes from The Outer Island, Quenton volunteers himself and Julia.

After fixing up an old ship, the Muntjac, the set sail to a beautiful but still boring island. However, it is here that Quenton learns that there is at least one more island, After Island, which is the home of the golden key that is said to turn the world. Actually, it is one of seven keys, according to an old legend. Bouyed by this promise of a quest, Quenton steers the Muntjac there and does indeed find a key, only to wind up back on Earth. After enlisting the help of both old and new friends, Quenton and Julia find their way back to Fillory, and the quest for the seven keys is on.

The Magician King has everything that made The Magicians so unique and enjoyable: relatable characters, magic and mystery, and parallels to favorite children's fantasies, but with a grown-up spin. What this second episode has more of than the first is quests. Like an epic fantasy, The Magician King is one long quest, with a few smaller ones thrown in. This really kept the action moving, even in the flashback chapters where Julia is on her own personal quest.

Grossman has wonderful talent in world-building - and not just Fillory; his alternate, magical Earth has plenty of hidden ins and outs, too. He also builds characters who are wonderfully human, even if they have supernatural talents. And, in The Magician King, his pacing is excellent, letting the story lead where it needs to without getting bogged down in minutiae or long expositions. While it does not read at breakneck speed, it moves just right for an epic quest.

Lev Grossman is an author of almost magical talent. Fantasy fans who want something familiar yet twisted need to check out his work. The Magician King is the perfect follow-up to The Magicians and will quickly join the ranks of must-read fantasies.

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