The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
Lev Grossman's hip fantasy trilogy about a group of young people who are head hunted to become magical adepts is a bit like Harry Potter on acid. The Magician's Land, the final installment, is clever, funny and completely engrossing. Like its predecessors, howver, it isn't just satisfied with being enjoyable. It also asks questions about the nature of happiness and examines the ways in which its protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, and his variously dysfunctional peers, try to find solutions to the problem of making meaning in a world where anything is possible.
The theme of the book is maturity. Quentin must face up to all of the mistakes he has made, whether emotional and magical. While all around him things are falling apart, he is at last beginning to understand what it means to be an adult and to see that his only chance of achieving his dreams is by letting go of them.
Like the other two books, this one is a box of delights, packed with authentic characters, breath-taking flights of fancy and a plot that constantly reshapes itself. Best of all, Grossman consistently avoids the ponderousness that characterises so much of contemporary fantasy.
I did feel that he allowed the rules of his narrative to loosen up just a little bit too much towards the end of the book when travel between our own world and the magical world of Fillory that has formed the backdrop to much of the trilogy's action seemed to become a much simpler matter than hitherto. So it's not perfect. But it's good enough to rank as one of very best of contemporary fantasies.