Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.
Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory–but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.
This is the third book in the series, see my reviews of the other books: The Magicians and The Magician King
The Good Bits.
The Magician’s Land is the book in which Quentin is finally likeable from start to finish. There wasn’t a single moment that I can remember where I rolled my eyes or raged at him. I suspect that this is because the novel begins with a Quentin exiled from Fillory and for once, he doesn’t spend the novel trying to get back there. This is a Quentin that has accepted a life in the ‘real world’ and makes a mission out of integrating himself into it.
This novel also goes deeper in depth regarding the Gods, specifically the Gods of Fillory Ember and Umber. In all the other novels they rarely appear, as they rarely do in the Fillory books. But The Magician’s land fleshed out some of their personal history which was great to see. All the existential things about all the different Gods, to me, wasn’t appealing because it wasn’t personal. How am I supposed to move myself to care about a bunch of random Gods? But Ember and Umber are paramount to the story, mostly because of their association with untainted bits of Fillory.
In a way that most conclusions to a trilogy do no, The Magician’s Land wrapped up everything nicely in a neat little bow. I struggle to think of any loose ends leftover, and if there are any I missed, I suspect they weren’t terribly important. Perhaps except for a bit in the second book that made me wonder about Quentin’s true parentage?
— Liselle (@lunchtimelib) February 12, 2016
I didn’t roll my eyes at Quentin this time around, but I absolutely rolled my eyes at Fillory. How often can a place possibly be in danger? A little danger, sure. But mortal peril? Every. Single. Time. I was honestly sick of it by the time it came around again. Mind you, I’m sure this was meant to be a clever poke at other fantasy novels, but it fell flat.
My biggest issue with this book, however, is that I finished and just shrugged. There was no emotional or high tension ending. And anything the characters felt or realized about themselves in the end wasn’t much more than they already knew. I didn’t feel like Quentin grew as a character, in fact, he was pretty much the same the whole time. At the end of a series you expect to feel this wonderful sense of finality or catharsis, but I didn’t feel anything. It felt like this was a book to tie up loose ends and nothing more, with very little of the storytelling and worldbuilding that made the first two books so amazing. I honestly believe that the second book could have had an epilogue and that would have made a fantastic ending. This book just felt like reviving a dead horse, explaining to everyone the details of why it died, and then killing it again.
The Last Bite.
It was good to finish the series off, and see all the loose ends tied up, but it wasn’t the emotional ending I expected for a trilogy of this caliber. Nevertheless, for those of you that wanted to know more about characters that felt a bit more minor in the other books, this is really their chance to shine.
Have you ever been disappointed by the end to a trilogy?
If you read The Magician’s Land, let me know what you thought!
Let’s do lunch again next week!