Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Magic in the Air

I’ve been waiting to write about Lev Grossman’s new book The Magician King.  Now that it is available at Flyleaf Books I can tell you what I think of it. I was curious about how Grossman would follow up on the success of The Magicians.  If you haven’t read the first book, Grossman creates a world where magic happens at a school secluded from the rest of the world that goes on without the knowledge that real magic exists.  Sound familiar?  The book was inevitably dubbed Harry Potter for grown ups when it came out in 2009.  The world Grossman creates is for adults; his young adult magicians face adult problems and have to find ways to overcome them.  Grossman provides a number of nods to previously published books in the genre.  In fact, The Magicians is a kind of examination of and appreciation for fantasy readers.  If you like finding the Easter eggs in movies and you’re a fan of fantasy, look at what Grossman wrote about the illusions to previous works of fantasy for

The Magician King is darker than the first book and focuses on Julia’s story in great depth.  It also describes what happens when Quentin becomes bored with being a King in Fillory, the land of magical beings and the magicians who find themselves there.  Quentin seeks an adventure, one that will make him a hero, but realizes the costs too late.
Lev Grossman is reading at Flyleaf on Tuesday, 20 August at 7:00pm.  Stay tuned for an online interview coming soon.

And while I’m on the topic of magic, there is another book about magic that you will want to read called The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  It comes out in a month (13 September).  This book is going to get a lot of attention.  It has already been optioned for a movie.

The Night Circus is the story of two young magicians, Celia and Marco, pitted against each other by their malevolent mentors.  But Celia and Marco are not the most interesting characters in the book.  The night circus has a life of its own and is by far the most enchanting character.  The circus is created using magic and is the field of the challenge for Celia and Marco.  The two magicians enhance the circus and test one another’s magic skills through the circus.  Performers and visitors are largely innocent bystanders. My vision of the circus while reading was a cross between steampunk and Victorian architecture with magic woven in.  Morgenstern does a masterful job describing the intricate beauty and frightening aspects of the circus.  There is an undercurrent of danger throughout the book due to the contest between Celia and Marco and the mystery of the circus itself.

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