Review of Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman


August 4, 2014 by mmileti


Grossman’s Magicians trilogy is far different than any other work of modern fantasy I have come across. Grossman’s novels are an intellectual journey into the disillusionment that occurs during the journey to adulthood, and much of the fantasy elements of his novels occur simply to help prove this point to the reader. The first book in particular has a very depressing tone, and is incredibly anticlimactic in comparison to most modern fantasy. I have always admired Grossman as a writer, and respected how deeply thought provoking his novels are, but I have always been a bit disappointed that they were lacking in escapism. Despite some seriously cool magical elements, the first two books in the Magicians trilogy seemed more of a dissertation on disillusionment than fantasy fiction.

After having finally read the concluding installment in the Magicians trilogy, I have truly fallen in love with Grossman’s work. Magicians Land ties the whole series together, and awards the reader with an exemplary modern fantasy. It is not only an extremely intelligent novel, but also an exciting and meaningful story with an intensely emotional plotline. Magicians Land preserves that tiny part of childhood that resides in all lovers of fantasy, and it presents itself to the reader in a novel that is extremely hard to put down.

Magicians Land is the conclusion to Quentin Coldwater’s story, and it starts where The Magician King, the second book in the series, left off. Quentin has been kicked out of Fillory, the magical land he once ruled as a king. For lack of anything better to do, Quentin returns to Brakebills, the place where his magical journey began, as a teacher. Everything seems to be going well for Quentin until he tries to save a student named Plum from one of the ghosts of his past. Suddenly Quentin and Plum (who has a dark secret of her own) are embarking on a journey that will ensure that Quentin faces his past head on. Meanwhile, the friends Quentin left in Fillory are facing their biggest crisis yet: Fillory is dying, and for good this time. As the fate of Earth and Fillory collide, Quentin realizes that all roads lead back to Fillory, and he will have to try and save it one final time.

One of the biggest improvements in this installment of the Magicians trilogy is the addition of a plot with a purpose. The plot lines of the first two novels often seemed aimless, and it is not until this final novel that I really became invested in both the characters and the plot. Quentin was always an extremely well developed character, but not always a very likeable one. Finally Quentin’s complexity makes a turn for the better, and he becomes a protagonist that the reader will truly admire.

I found the ending to this book to be moving, fitting, and fantastic. It is the perfect end to Quentin’s journey, and it made me go back and analyze the other two books in a different light. Fans of the first two books in the Magicians trilogy will most certainly be satisfied with the series’ conclusion, and even those readers that had issues with the first two novels will finally have a novel that satisfies them both intellectually and engagingly. I would recommend this series as a whole to anyone with a love for fantasy that also has a need for a novel to be mentally stimulating. This is not a series that should be read for pure entertainment value, but rather for its seriously fascinating magic and its captivating commentary on the human condition.

I would rate this novel a 9/10.

I received an advance reading copy of this novel from Goodreads and the publisher.

2 thoughts on “Review of Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

  1. YES! I totally agree. The third book had a purpose and Quentin had a clear direction. That was the biggest reason I couldn’t really get into the first book, because the story and characters lacked both. The Magicians was intellectual, but it felt pretentiously so. The series lost a lot of that as it went from book two to book three, and I felt like I could finally take The Magcian’s Land at face value.

  2. NeoCleo says:

    I love all three books. Yes, Quentin is an immature a-hole, just like any other 17 year old in the first book. It feels very real and the consequences of that kind of power also feel real without being preachy. The Magician King’s ending made perfect sense to me. Quentin finally pays for some of his karmic past debts to friends and lovers by self-sacrifice AND he becomes a hero. We all know about heros don’t we? The final book ties it all together with Quentin finally growing UP. I like the way the book one starts from a single POV, the second has 2 POVs and the third expands to let us in on Elliot’s & Janet’s personal worlds.

    Of course they’re not perfect, but Grossman knocks it out of the park with every succeeding book building beautifully on the last.

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If you would like to submit a book for review, or you have any questions about Avid Reviews, you can contact me by email: mrmileti(at)gmail(dot)com

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