The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Strangely enough, I worked through all of my reservations from the previous two books, having liked the first book well enough, and on reflection liking the second one much less, I discovered that passing the hump of the heist in the third allowed me to finally relax into the story after finally realizing that Quentin wasn't going to remain a douchebag forever.
The heist was fine, as far as that went, and his just going along with everything and sliding along with his life was par for course. It wasn't that surprising, but I was rather amused with the situation. I even caught myself reimagining the tale as one of discovery from the side-character's pov as they went about their sneakthievery only to realize that this ponce used to be a king of Fillory. There wasn't too much of that, of course, but it still amused me to think about it.
Later on, during the great hiding, the time wasting, I finally realized that Quentin was actually doing something with his life instead of coasting. From that point forward, I began to root for him. The resulting changes seemed like brief backsliding, but in the end he eventually did the right thing. And then he did the right thing again. And again. I started wondering if I was reading the same set of novels. When did this idiot start growing up?
And then it happened. After slogging through two and half novels of disliking this boy-man, he finally redeemed himself. We finally have a rounded character, and he was good. What a shock.
Getting in on some of the povs of the other superfriends didn't leave me dissatisfied, either. Jane was pretty interesting, and Elliot also had his moments. Penny, well... Penny was Penny. He'll probably remain a dick forever, which is a shame, because I identify more with punks than wastrel spoon-lickers with a mysterious silvery paste on their tongues.
Julia. Out of everyone, I think I'd prefer to have novels devoted to her and her ascension to 3/4ths of godhood. I'm sure there's some pretty good storytelling hidden somewhere in there. After the story of her rise in the second novel, I wanted everything else to follow her about, but it just didn't happen.
C'est la vie.
The only recommendation I can really give for these books is that they all be read in the pure assumption that they are NOT separated by any silly delineation of book-binding. Just assume that all three novels are one ginormous volume meant to explore the ultimate growing up of a douchebag, and you won't go wrong. Then, it becomes rather pleasant. And isn't that what we all really want, in the end?
Happy endings. They exist, even for these books. My relief is palpable. I'm glad I stuck through it all.
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