Second in The Magicians trilogy, Lev Grossman’s The Magician King picks up shortly after the story left off in the first book. Julia is back. Although she failed the entrance exam to Brakebills, she struck out on her own to learn magic while Quentin received his more formal education. The book is divided between the present, in Fillory, and Julia’s past on Earth, and details are filled in over the course of the narrative.
Quentin is now one of the kings of Fillory, and Julia is a queen. Older and wiser than he was during his college days, Quentin still suffers from the angst of a pointless existence. Eventually he embarks on a quest which promises a satisfying answer to the meaning of his life.
The first book is crucial to understanding the entire story, and readers will need to go through it beforehand in order to appreciate The Magician King. Although presumably aimed at a younger audience, the book is absolutely not appropriate for youth. The F-bomb is laced throughout the text, with several other profanities intermittently interspersed. Julia’s group becomes interested in summoning ancient gods. The resulting chaos includes a graphic and disturbing rape scene.
Ultimately, the book ends in an extremely unsatisfying manner, with no answers to multiple questions. Presumably Grossman will tie up all loose ends in the next book.
One out of five stars