Quentin Coldwater, once King of Fillory, has lost everything. He’s lost Alice. He’s lost Fillory. He’s lost Brakebills. Now almost 30, his only real goal is to bring Alice back from whatever otherworldly dimension she inhabits as a niffin—which he knows is impossible. Desperate for money, he takes a mysterious heist job along with a Plum, a former Brakebills student with secrets of her own.
Meanwhile, Fillory’s magical borders are disintegrating. Janet and Eliot, after fighting off the invading Lorians, go on yet another quest through Fillory to see if they can figure out what’s happening to their borders. To their utter dismay, they learn that Fillory is dying, splintering apart at its very seams. Desperate to save the world they love, they turn to person who loves Fillory more than anyone: Quentin.
Now Quentin has two goals: save the woman he loves, and save the world he loves—or die trying.
I devoured this book, and I would have to say that it’s probably the best of the series. Everything comes together, even some little things from the first book that you’ll have forgotten about (at least I did…) and it ties together beautifully. Plus, Quentin is significantly less insufferable in The Magician’s Land than in the other two books, which was a nice change. And while there is a “new” problem, it’s not as obviously contrived as some third-book plots I’ve seen (Allegiant, I’m looking at you). They’ve all known for a while now that Fillory was in danger from one thing or another. But now it’s the ultimate, nameless danger of pure and simple decay. I was really interested to see how they’d solve that one.
I was also somewhat surprised at Quentin’s determination to bring Alice back from what I had figured (and what seemed to be made pretty clear throughout the series) was a permanent…not death, exactly, but permanent state of being outside human existence. I admired it, but I had sort of…written Alice off, I guess? I didn’t really expect him to still be pining, and so badly that he was planning to do the impossible and make her human again.
One of the best things about The Magician’s Land was that we got even more characters’ perspectives than last time. Quentin and Plum were the main ones, but we also got Janet, Eliot, and—awesomely, through an old diary—Rupert Chatwin, one of the five original children to go to Fillory. In his diary, the middle Chatwin child explains that Christopher Plover, the author of the Fillory novels that Quentin so loved as a child and teenager, wrote Fillory as a much more kind, lighthearted place than the Chatwins—and Quentin and his friends—know to be true. We also learn, finally, what exactly happened to Martin Chatwin to turn him into the Beast.
Something I really admire about Grossman’s writing is his ability to use the Chekov’s Gun trope without making it hit-you-over-the-head obvious. There were a bunch of things I saw and thought, “That’s going to be significant later”—you really should make sure to pay attention to almost everything, because it all has a way of coming back in the end—and I was right in the end, but there were still some I missed. You could always take this as me being an inattentive reader (which you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong about), but I choose to think of it as a compliment to Grossman’s writing. Especially because things came back even from the first book in the trilogy, which means he either planned this all out really well or he has a great knack for tying up loose ends. Either way, bravo.
Bottom line, The Magician’s Land was a great book and an even greater ending to a stellar series. You might want to avoid me for the next couple of weeks if you don’t want me to demand that you read The Magicians ASAP.by