BBW & The Magician King

This week feels like it’s full of so many things and it’s only Wednesday. Yesterday I talked a little bit about Banned Books Week. Today I thought I’d provide the links to a couple of the lists that I thought were interesting: Classics & Last Year’s. Strangely, I’ve read more of the classically banned literature than the modern stuff. I went through an Oscar Wilde phase during the early summer (mainly because of Jersey Shore Gone Wilde) and sometime last year I read through Lady Chatterly’s Lover because it was referenced in the Starbridge Series (I believe it was referenced in Scandalous Risks, actually). So, I guess I need to catch up on what’s considered modernly controversial?

When I planned this week and last week’s blog posts I guess I was feeling thematic. I realized that I would be blogging about The Magician King by Lev Grossman, a book which I pretty well enjoyed a couple weeks ago, and this spiraled my thought process off in the direction of the formative role fantasy fiction played in my development as a reader and as a writer. So that’s what you’ll get to read about this week, if you’re so inclined. Anway, Onward!

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

This novel is the second in a trilogy. Judging by how much was being said of The Magician King in the weeks leading up to it’s release (as well as the weeks after) the trilogy will do fairly well. It’s being marketed as “Harry Potter for grown-ups” which, I don’t know, seems silly to me. The first novel, The Magicians, followed a kid named Quentin as he was discovers he’s a magician and can attend a private institution in upstate New York that will teach him how to use magic.

The Magician King picks up a few months after the first one stopped. Quentin (now spelled Kwentin) is one of the kings of Fillory (sort of like Narnia and its four monarchs). He’s restless after losing his first love and yearning for an adventure to start so that Fillory will live up to its magical nature he remembers from the novels he read as a kid. It’s a classic “be careful what you wish for” plot catalyst. The thing that makes both The Magicians and The Magician King different and interesting is that they’re pretty gritty. Think a little like The Secret History plus fantasy: people die fairly explicitly, bodily functions are not ignored, and even though there’s magic everywhere it’s not a happy fairy tale.

I read The Magicians two years ago. Pam read it as well and we discussed it later. She enjoyed parts of it, but thought the ending dragged on a bit too far. I felt like I was reading a rip-off of The Chronicles of Narnia and to a degree Harry Potter and as a result I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. The Magician King is a lot like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is my favourite in the Narnia series, so I believed that it was an homage more this time around. And it’s sort of funny. Grossman throws in these silly little in-jokes, everything from Wikipedia to MMPORGs (or more correctly online forums). The magic he writes about is logical, mathematical, and based in the power of words. The dragons he writes about are pretty cool, too.

It’s definitely not Young Adult appropriate. And if you’re anything like me and LOVE The Chronicles of Narnia or the Harry Potter series I would say you will probably like this, but don’t expect to right away, let it grow on you. I would suggest it to anyone who thinks fantasy is a silly genre that breaks all of its own rules. Grossman proves that you can write fairly realistic fantasy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s