The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
A sequel to The Magicians which was set in the magical land of Fillory, a deliberate pastiche of C.S. Lewis' Narnia, The Magician King carries on in exactly the same vein. It's an adult fantasy, very clever, very hip, very irreverent but also very enamoured of the fantasy genre and chock-full of intertextual references.
Quentin, the hero of The Magicians, is now established as king in Fillory, the land that he once believed only existed in his favourite children's books, but he's bored and he wants an adventure. As we all know, you should be careful what you wish for and Quentin's adventure which begins with him sailing away full of excitement and bravado, like Caspian in The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, soon turns very dark indeed.
Interspersed with the story of Quentin's adventure is the back-story of Julia, Quentin's school friend who failed to get into the magical academy of Brakebills in the previous book and who instead, had to learn her magic the hard way. And when we say hard, we really mean it.
The two stories dovetail nicely at the end of the book to create a lovely twist that is emotionally devastating for both Quentin and the reader but which nevertheless, seems like the only possible satisfactory ending.
This is a tremendous read. It's the kind of book I wish I'd written myself. I devoured it and was very sorry indeed to find that I had reached the end. However, I should point out to anyone reading this review that unless you have read the first book, The Magician King will make no sense whatsoever.