Released: January 2015 – Magic and mayhem collide in the final book of the endlessly inventive Magicians trilogy.
The Magician’s Land is the third and final book in Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy: a witty and sharply realised adult mash-up of Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia, full of swearing (‘what the shit?’), mutilations and farting swamp turtles.
Quentin Coldwater has lost his ruling place in the magical faraway land of Fillory, being banished to Earth and serving his time as a teacher at Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, the school where he began his journey as a teenage magician in the first book. In The Magician’s Land the now thirty-something Quentin is recruited by a mysterious employer, along with a select few other intriguing individuals – each with a specific set of skills or use – and given a covert mission to retrieve something valuable from a pair of master criminals. A bit like TV show Hustle, or a magically infused Ocean’s Eleven, with a flying carpet instead of a getaway car.
Meanwhile in Fillory, Eliot and Janet set out on a quest of their own, to understand how and why their new homeland is facing its end. With ominous signs of impending apocalypse, Fillory’s royalty must figure out how to prevent the collapse of their beloved fantasy world before all is lost forever.
Lev Grossman has a rich, inviting imagination. His stories are packed with intrigue, mystery and magic, in ways fresh and surprising, and his characters are far from your typical fantasy protagonists. Selfish, overly ambitious, crude and cynical, the main characters nevertheless remain likeable and readable. They are all so flawed, but charmingly so, it’s like wanting to punch them in the face and high five them at the same time. Although Quentin can be a painfully annoying character, especially in the earlier books, in this final story he is more mature, more realistic, maybe more of a hero.
This book, the most out of the three, is all about growing up and coming to an understanding of the world around you, which I believe is particularly well pointed out in this very brief exchange about a collection of pocket watches on display in a room in the fading realm of Fillory:
‘If they don’t control time, what do they do?’ Eliot asked.
‘They tell time,’ Jane said. ‘That’s enough.’
There can be something special found even in the mundane and ordinary. The characters may seek adventure and high-stakes magical pursuits, but really this is just a case of arrested development. Even magicians have to settle down sometime and come to accept the way things are.
Grossman has a way with words, and his descriptions will never bore you. His take on magic is unique for the fantasy genre, depending more on science and math – more like watching chemistry professors at work than powered-up beings waving wands about. Visually scrumptious and complete with exceptional world-building, these books are inventive, intelligent and funny all the way to the end; it may not be perfect, but this book and this trilogy are highly recommended.