Book Review: A Land of One’s Own

By Adam Bicksler

click on the image to purchase the book

Lev Grossman, born 1969, is a senior writer and book critic at Time magazine. Most notably, he is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy. Fans of the series can stop holding their breath: the third and final installment, The Magician’s Land, has arrived!

“Quentin Coldwater has lost everything…” The readers find themselves helplessly watching as Quentin Coldwater, protagonist of the series, attempts in vain to find something, anything, to fill the void that magic has created in his life. Last we left Quentin, he was being kicked out of Fillory, the Narnia-esque land that is the backdrop of the trilogy. The Magician’s Land picks up less than a year later.

It all starts with a page stolen from the Neitherlands, that magical, and yet non-magical in-between place, the rift between parallel worlds. Quentin returns to Brakebills, the magic school of the greater New York area. Hired as a junior professor, Quentin must pay his dues and do grunt work (chaperoning the first and second year dances, taking lunch after the upper-classmen and their respective professors, teaching the basics, etc.). To distract himself from the mundanity of it all, he throws himself into his work translating and making sense of the page from the Neitherlands.

It all starts with a page stolen from the Neitherlands, that magical, and yet non-magical in-between place, the rift between parallel worlds.

Teaming up with another magician whose origins are slowly revealed as the book progresses, Quentin and his new companion set out to Brakebills South, a location Grossman has not visited since the first book. Familiar magic comes into play again: transfiguration. As blue whales (yes, blue friggin whales!), Quentin and his companion make contact with a figure from their collective past to help them with Quentin’s mission: to create a land of his own, one that he won’t be kicked out of. On the way to Brakebills South, Quentin and his companion discover that whales are magicians in and of themselves: “And there was something else—something down there in the black abyssal trenches of the ocean. Something that wanted to rise. The whales were keeping it down. What was it? An army of giant squid? Cthulhu? Some last surviving Carcharodon megalodon? Quentin never found out. He hoped he never would.”

But that’s not all. Something sinister is happening in Fillory. Armageddon is swiftly approaching, but can Quentin and his fellow magicians stop it before it’s too late? The thrilling conclusion to this trilogy holds all the answers and the surprise re-appearance of a character lost long ago.

As a fan of the series since its debut, I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion to the trilogy. My only complaint? It wasn’t long enough! Fans of high fantasy and soft fantasy alike will be drawn into the complex relationships that Grossman builds between his characters. Additionally, the rules of magic can be bent, broken or re-interpreted, allowing for a more malleable world in which the story takes place. Ultimately, Quentin’s mission is successful: “Quentin recognized this land and yet at the same time he didn’t. Could this be home? He didn’t see any reason why not. But it was a strange, wild country. It was no utopia. It wasn’t a tame land.”

I urge everyone reading this to check out the Magicians trilogy.

Find out more about Lev Grossman by clicking his picture.

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