Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” trilogy

August 11, 2014
MagiciansLand

I just read the newly released final book in Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” trilogy, The Magician’s Land — the earlier ones were The Magicians and The Magician King — and thought I’d mention again how much I liked the series. I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction for over 35 years, and it’s rare for me to find something that feels fresh; this definitely qualified. The writing also flows very well, and I found it quite witty without being too obtrusive.

The third book is less inventive than the first two, but I enjoyed it a lot nonetheless. And in any event, I think the three books put together are greater than the sum of their parts. If you read the first two, I think you’ll like the third (though perhaps not as much as the second, which I think is the best of the three). If you haven’t read any, read them.

And, if you can, read them without a long break in between. As some commenters pointed out when I blogged about the first book a few years ago, one problem with that book is that the protagonist is a jerk and in some ways pretty foolish and ineffectual. But then again, he’s a maladjusted (though very smart) boy in his late teens. One thing I liked about the series is how much he grows through the books, especially in the second book, so don’t be annoyed too much by his misbehavior in the first one.

Finally, the one-line summary of the books (especially the first) is “Harry Potter goes to college and to Narnia.” The books definitely self-consciously refer to Narnia, and to a smaller degree to Harry Potter. But while the trilogy builds on some of the things from those works, it never felt derivative to me. I highly recommend it.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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