This August, Lex Grossman released the final installment of his trilogy about the magical adventures of Quentin Coldwater. We take a look at the journey his hero has taken throughout the three novels: The Magicians, The Magician King and The Magician’s Land.
The first novel, The Magicians, had many readers and reviewers compare it to the Harry Potter series. And on the surface, the similarities are there: Quentin Coldwater is young man who gets taken out of his usual upbringing and environment and is cast into a world where magic exists. Unlike Hogwarts, Brakebills is a college and not a high school. Magic isn’t simply conjured by latin words, but involves complex and intricate hand gestures. It’s painted as a chore and not necessarily as fun. Quentin, who is hard-working and gifted, but also fueled by self-doubt and low self-esteem, seems to finally have reached what he always dreamed about. After all, he grew up adoring a book series about Fillory, a magical world a group of kids stumbles upon (similar to C.S Lewis’ world in the Chronicles of Narnia). The book follows his path through school, the friendships he forms with Alice, Eliot, Janet and Josh and how he struggles to cope with himself and how he imagined the world to be. And towards the end of the first tome, Quentin discovers that not only magic is real, but the kingdom of his dreams awaits him.
The second book, The Magician King, starts off in Fillory, with an older and less petulant Quentin serving as one of the kings of the magical world. But instead of enjoying the fulfillment of his dream, he seeks a new adventures, still striving to prove his worth and find something worth living for. His journey leads him through different worlds again. In the second book, the reader also learns more about Janet, Quentin’s high school crush, who also showed magical ability, but didn’t end up enjoying the classical education of Brakebills.
And for the Grande Finale of the trilogy, Quentin has aged quite a bit and is close to 30. He has come to terms with his fate. We meet the hero of the series as he enters a rundown bookshop…
To learn more about the first chapter of The Magician’s Land, watch the book trailer featuring great authors such as Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Brooks, Rainbow Rowell and more.
The development of Quentin COldwater
Each novel of the series differs from the others. The Magician’s is a coming-of-age series involving magic and finding oneself. The Magician King is all about journeys: Quentin’s present and Julia’s past. And The Magician’s Land is wonderfully diverse involving a heist, desert trials and of course, fighting against the end of the world.
Quentin Coldwater can be hard to like, especially in his youngest self (in book 1). But over the course of the trilogy, Mr. Grossman successfully shows the development his hero goes through from teenage prodigy to season magician. Readers can feel the impact the adventures and worlds had on Quentin and how he reacted to them. Thankfully, he is not the only character that develops further, as especially in the third volume, his friends get the treatment they deserve. Unfortunately, it does not extend to all characters, so some of them enjoy nothing more than convenient roles in the plots.
A strength of Mr. Grossman is his world-building: Fillory is cliched (full of talking animals, it has creepy forest and beautiful plains), but nonetheless imaginative, the magic-filled school of Brakebills full of secrets and yet so familiar and the journey Janet takes through the magical underground society is a wild ride. The plot allows the reader to imagine and discover these diverse locations.
Ultimately, Mr. Grossman has written a trilogy perfectly suited for anyone who enjoys more contemporary fantasy. The Magicians is imaginative, gripping and worth a read.