It can be tough to be in the minority when it comes to entertainment. It's bad enough when you enjoy something that everyone else seems to dislike or ignore; at least then you can tell yourself that you've discovered a hidden gem that nobody else appreciates. It's even more difficult when you don't get the appeal or support the acclaim for something everyone else seems to love.

That's kind of how I felt about the first two books in Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy. When The Magicians came out and was lauded as "grown-up, realistic Harry Potter", I was all over it. When I finished it, I thought to myself "Huh. OK." It wasn't terrible or anything, but I felt that it wasn't half as good as everyone was saying it was. It was definitely good enough to pick up the second book (The Magician King) when that was published, only to be mildly disappointed anew. It seemed as though I was just destined to be blasé about a series that everyone else was doing cartwheels over. Yet again, I figured that as long as I'd already invested time into this universe and its characters, I may as well ride it out.

Imagine my delight when I found the final book in the trilogy, 2014's The Magician's Land, to be the best of the bunch. Quentin has been expelled from Fillory, and is trying to forge some sort of identity back in the "real" world. He hasn't left the realm of magic, though, and becomes intrigued with the idea of resurrecting Alice, the girlfriend who's now literally haunting him. Meanwhile, a cataclysmic event threatens Fillory and its remaining human rulers. And if that wasn't enough, the backstory of the entire world is filled in when journals written by one of the original children to enter Fillory are discovered.

It sounds like the recipe for an overstuffed mess of a book, but in a nice turn, everything is woven together really skillfully, and all the lingering plot threads are eventually tied up. The Magician's Land has even accomplished something very rare. It's made me think that the previous two books might be worth a second look. That never happens! This series must be even more magical than I thought.

The Magician's Land: B+


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