Remember that time I read The Magicians and loved it super-hard? Me neither. THIS IS WHY I HAVE A BLOG, because I see from my review that I enjoyed The Magicians so much more than I remember enjoying The Magicians. Past-self, I’m sorry I never pay attention to you.
So when we last left Quentin and Julia and Eliot and Janet, they were kings and queens of Fillory and doing fine. In the course of their daily royal amusements, it comes up that an outer island failed to pay last year’s taxes, and everyone is like, Fehhh. But Quentin volunteers to go get the tax because Lo, he art bored. Being royalty in a magical, well-run country is like a lazy Saturday ALL THE TIME and eventually one wants a bit of questing, eh wot.
He brings Julia (with whom something is Not Right, and has been Not Right since she [and good thing Grossman brings this up again because I’d forgotten the plot of The Magicians entirely] failed to get into Brakebills yet still managed to acquire Phenomenal Cosmic Powers in ways yet to be explained) and also brings, like, a swordsman and a jaunty, refurbished little ship. And a surly map-making teen. Eclecticism is the only way to get anything done on a Quest.
So they go to the Outer Island to get the taxes and the lone woman there is like, While you’re this far, why don’t you jaunt out to After Island to get their golden key? And Quentin is like, Hrrrum…*taps lip* A non-fiscal quest, you say? And so they go, because what the hell, and MANY DOIN’S A-TRANSPIRE and there are BATTLES and TALKING CORPSES and DOORS INTO OTHER WORLDS WHICH PEOPLE ACCIDENTALLY GO THROUGH and at least one person dies.
Meanwhile, back in the alternating chapters, we learn how Julia came by her hedge-witch powers and it is both compelling and dark as hale. So that’s fun. And by ‘fun’ I mean ‘extremely sad in parts.’
So how could I have forgotten so completely how funny Lev Grossman is? That’s like forgetting which masseur gives the best deep tissues, amirite? (I am, of course, joking. There is no such thing as a good deep-tissue massage.)