Now a king in the magical land of Fillory, Quentin embarks on a quest to save the universe in Grossman’s searing sequel to The Magicians (2009, etc.).
It’s been two years since Quentin assumed one of Fillory’s four crowns along with Eliot and Janet, fellow graduates of the Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, and Quentin’s high-school friend Julia, a Brakebills reject who managed to acquire magical powers on her own. Truth to tell, he’s a little bored with his cushy life at the Castle Whitespire, so he seizes on the excuse of a tax-collecting mission to sail for Outer Island, rumored to be the home of “the key that winds up the world.” It’s an ugly surprise when he and Julia find the key and it dumps them back in their hometown on Earth. Searching for a way back to Fillory, they learn that something is very wrong in the Neitherlands, the mysterious embarkation point that leads to all other worlds, and that the key they found is one of seven required to fend off an apocalypse. Interspersed chapters flash back to Julia’s dark adventures before she reunited with Quentin. She discovered a network of people sharing magical knowledge outside the approved Brakebills framework, and her prodigious skills eventually earned her entrance into an elite circle of brilliant, self-taught magicians seeking “an advance so radical it will take us into another league…we think there’s more to magic than what we’ve seen so far.” Indeed there is: The ancient forces recklessly summoned by Julia and her friends provoke a spectacular magical battle, a terrifying transformation for Julia and the loss of everything Quentin has ever wanted. Echoes from The Chronicles of Narnia, in particular The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, continue to reverberate, but Grossman’s psychologically complex characters and grim reckoning with tragic sacrifice far surpass anything in C.S. Lewis’ pat Christian allegory.
Fabulous fantasy spiked with bitter adult wisdom—not to be missed.