Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Magician's Land: A Novel by Lev Grossman

The Magician’s Land: A Novel (Magician’s Trilogy). Lev Grossman. Viking Adult. August 2014. 416 pp.  ISBN#: 9780670015672.

Lev Grossman’s background in comparative literature (Yale and Harvard) is obvious as The Magician’s Land… concludes a trilogy that seems like a spin-off of Harry Potter, Tolkien, mythology and more but with a more mature atmosphere.  Yes, the world of magic that our hero Quentin inhabits makes just about any imaginative idea come to life but it’s all got purpose attached to it that has a moral, philosophical and practical bend that makes it even more engaging to readers!

Quentin has committed some dastardly act for which he was ejected from the magical world of Fillory, an act in which he supposedly lost his one and only love who died during that awful time.  Since then, he’s been humbled to a large degree and is learning much about himself from reflecting on where he went wrong and who he really is.  He returns to his alma mater, Brakebills College, a renowned (and only) school for magic where he becomes a teacher of “mending small things.” For this it seems is his main gift as a magician.  He’s actually settling in quite nicely when his world again comes crashing down and he is fired from Brakebills.  Before long he receives an invitation that will dramatically change his life for the better – or perhaps worse, let the reader decide.

The invitation is verbalized by a black bird who, after weeding out the losers in the crowd, explains their quest is to find a old, shabby, but quality case that is locked with magic and possesses something very important although those seeking it don’t know what’s in it.  Quentin and Plum thus begin an absolutely phenomenal quest, in one way related to her family Chatwin’s past and Fillory, although they don’t know that when they start their journey. They also don’t realize that their search will go awry, leading them to a totally different quest of far larger significance.

Quentin and Plum’s adventures are mesmerizing as they include changing into animals, studying bonding construction of matter and energy, flying as dragons, engaging with demi-gods and gods (and not all benevolent), constructing labyrinths, meeting ghosts, and so much more than this brief synopsis could possibly cite but with one clear distinction of being a wonderful, wonderful read.  As a matter of fact, one might even want to read it several times as there are so many magnificent parts to relish!  Quentin believes that magic, ultimately, is to make the world a better place and treat each other accordingly – let the reader decide how he accomplishes that ideal!  Highly recommended and wow, what a film this would make! 

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