Saturday, November 08, 2014

The Magician's Land

By Lev Grossman

The third book in the trilogy finds Quentin once more on the outs. He had settled into his new position as a teacher at Brakebills and discovered his particular talent is the repair of small objects. Of course, this state of grace does not last for long. Quentin and a senior student, Plum, run afoul of Brakebill's new ghost (which turns out to be Alice, ex-human and now angry spirit being called a niffin) which results in Plum being expelled and Quentin being fired.
Plum and Quentin, at a loss for what to do with themselves after Brakebills, both end up as part of a crew hired to steal an old suitcase, a suitcase that turns out to have belonged to one of the Chatwins. It also turns out the Plum's grandfather was a Chatwin and Plum is the only one who can open the suitcase.
The suitcase caper goes awry, with Quentin's gang having to fight off not only the owners of the suitcase but a rival gang who also want it and the people who hired Quentin'g group turning out to be backstabbing liars. But Quentin's group ends up with the spoils and Quentin and Plum gain possession of her grandfather's tell-all memoir and of a powerful, world-building spell hidden in the memoir.
The memoir tells the story of Martin and of his turn to the dark side, with the help of one of the two gods of Fillory, the ram Umber. Umber is a bit of a joker and will do anything for a laugh, including taking Martin's humanity and letting him stay in Fillory.
Meanwhile, back in Fillory, the four human rulers are dismayed to discover that, once again, Fillory is in deadly peril. In fact, it is the End Times for Fillory and Eliot returns to Earth to get Quentin's help in keeping that from happening. He arrives just in time to witness the return of Alice from niffinhood, for which she is entirely ungrateful. She liked being a niffin and is very angry at everyone because she is now human again. She only begins to come around when Quentin seduces her with some of her favorite foods. Quentin, Alice, Plum and Eliot then return to Fillory to try and stop the Apocalypse.

Once again, Quentin is giving his all to save Fillory. It's a good story, very engaging and interesting, ties up all the lose ends nicely. But I still don't care about Fillory. I never became invested in what happens on or to Fillory. I never connected with any of the minor characters of Fillory, Ember, Umber, Benedict, the bodyguard,  and so on, they are just background to the story of Quentin. Actually, the only Fillory character  that I cared about was Benedict and he is quickly killed off in the second book. Fillory was Quentin's fantasy, not mine.

New York Times review of the book:

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