Book Review: The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
Viking, 2014
Cover art: “Novembre (November),” 2007 © Didier Massard

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman is the perfect ending to his Magicians trilogy. I would say that it’s not the ending I expected, but I honestly had no idea what to expect. It’s not a typical happy ending, but that’s a good thing—a happy ending would betray the entire concept of the trilogy. So the ending isn’t fairy tale happy, but it’s very satisfying. It leaves the reader and the characters satiated, without any pandering or overly cheery false notes.

In retrospect, it takes on an appearance of inevitability. Having read it, it now feels like the only ending possible. It rings true.

The Magician’s Land is both grand in scope and strangely mundane. But that mundanity is also what makes it profound.

This is difficult to put into words…

It reminds me of how Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman end stories—it’s unexpected, original, and hugely imaginative. But it’s also intimate, personal, and it acknowledges the fundamental fact that the world (all worlds, any world) doesn’t have fairy tale endings. But the endings we do get are enough, and can be deeply satisfying, if we just accept them and make the best of it.

At heart, the Magicians trilogy charts the growth of Quentin and his friends from wild, cynical college kids to powerful, responsible adults. From the beginning of the first book, I wanted Quentin to realize that he was a good kid. Instead, he squandered his heart, made too many stupid decisions, and almost destroyed his life and others. In this, he’s typical of many aimless youth.

It’s tremendously gratifying to see him grow into his true and honest self as an adult, to see him finally understand who he is and accept the responsibilities that are his to take on.

I admit that I had some doubts about this series after reading the first book. But the second book put those doubts to rest, and the third completely fulfills the premise of the story, the potential of the characters, and the promise of the world.

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