The Magician King is the sequel to The Magicians, which I reviewed on September 1. As the second book in Lev Grossman’s trilogy, it follows closely after book #1 and appropriately leaves the reader hanging, waiting for #3. Darker and more mature than The Magicians, it definitely does not seem like a YA novel. (This is a warning for those who might expect Harry Potter.)
On the whole, I liked The Magician King and am willing to recommend it — with a few reservations. It’s more depressing than it needs to be, and it goes back and forth between two time periods, not exactly in flashbacks but more a set of two parallel narratives. I found this confusing, since it was sometimes hard to tell when we were. The confusion was exacerbated by the fact that I listened to the audiobook version rather than reading the print version. Narrator Mark Bramhall was generally quite good and brought the story alive. But I do have to nitpick about two pronunciation errors: he keeps saying “sloth” with a long vowel (rhyming with “both”) and “kludgy” with a short vowel (rhyming with “sludgy”). Why do I care? Because every occurrence — and there are many — takes me out of the story and back into hypothesizing about the linguistic sources of these errors. Otherwise, my usual test of an audiobook novel is whether I can visualize the characters and the action, seeing it as a potential movie, and this recording passes that test.
On to The Magician’s Land (after a suitable break), and we’ll see what I think of the entire trilogy.