Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Magician King – Lev Grossman


Maybe this was one of those times when being a hero didn’t involve looking particularly brave. It was just doing what you should.

For those playing the home game; you know that while I really enjoyed Lev Grossman’s novel The Magician’s I had a hard time getting past the fact that Fillory was basically Narnia. I enjoyed the sequel more than the first to be honest, sometimes that happens. Maybe it’s because they’ve had to time to flesh things out. Either way I feel like Mr. Grossman did a phenomenal job returning us to the loving arms of Fillory.

First, he plunges you head first into Fillory where the Kings and Queens have been ruling for some time and they are comfortable in their roles as caretakers. That is, except for Quentin, who is always looking for the next big adventure. He finds it in the form of a quest for magical keys. What they are used for? He’s not really sure. But an adventure is an adventure. A quest is a quest.

Among his companions on this trip is the ever mysterious Julia, whom we met in the first book. She had a such a juicy story and a pretty disappointing exit in the last book. What happened to Julia? Why did she remember Brakebills? Why did she so resemble a junkie last time her and Quentin met? Why is she suddenly flying outside of his office window with Janet and Eliot? Wait, how did she even know Janet and Eliot? These questions plagued me at the end of the first book and I am happy to say that all these questions and more are answered in the sequel. Grossman takes turns chapter by chapter shifting from the present and Julia’s past  and her story arc is satisfying.

In this epic adventure that Quentin and Julia are on, you follow them to the Outerislands, back to Earth, back to Fillory, and round and round you go. It is easy to keep track of where they are since Grossman has a knack for describing the surroundings. You meet new endearing characters and some people, albeit pretty predictably, return. You are left wanting more at the end of this novel. What’s going to happen to Quentin? What’s going to happen to Fillory? Is Alice ever going to make a return appearance? (Something I’m sure fans were asking with the release of the final novel published last August.) I’m excited to see how this epic tale of Quentin and Fillory ends. I hope it’s as satisfying as I want it to be.

As You Wish- Cary Elwes


Well…you know.

Everyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a nerd about The Princess Bride! My Aunt and Uncle sat me down to watch it when I was around seven or eight, along with another wonderful fantasy film Willow, because they were flabbergasted when I had told them I hadn’t seen it. So, to them, I say thank you. The film The Princess Bride has been my favorite since that day back in Texas when the first shot of the old 80’s baseball video game flashes on the screen. To this day I still watch at least five times a year…at least. I could go on and on about the random trivia I know about the film or how I love being the first person to tell someone that S. Morgenstern isn’t a real person. But this isn’t what this post is about.

I was completely bowled over with emotion when I received this book from my fiance’s family for Christmas. I unwrapped it half way, saw the title, jumped up and hugged them. What a better way to start the new year than with a book about my favorite movie?!? It is a breeze to read and anyone who has any love for the film should read it. Even though you can feel the love that the cast has for each other it’s nice to read about how close they became on set and how close they all still are.

I was pleased to find out that I don’t know all of the “behind the scenes” things that went on during filming. For example; one of my favorite lines is during Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times when the Inigo asks the Man in Black:

“Who are you?”

“No one of consequence.”

“I must know.”

“Get used to disappointment.”

Then something amazing happens. Inigo just shrugs and says “Kay.”  It was completely unscripted! One of the greatest responses to a series of questions!

This book just deepened my love for the film, which I didn’t think was even possible. I have grown up watching these characters and can recite lines at the drop of a hat and yet I still never tire of climbing the cliffs of insanity, going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, battling R.O.U.S’s, hoping it’s enough to buy a miracle, not going swimming for a good hour, storming the castle, and finally finding true ‘wuv.

The Magicians- Lev Grossman


I got my heart’s desire, and there my troubles began.

I remember being in Borders on the corner of State and Lake in Chicago one particularly rainy afternoon when this book came out. I picked it up and read the back which toted such names as George R. R. Martin saying “The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea.” I realized that I wanted to read this “Harry Potter for adults” book, but I didn’t have the money at the time or what have you so I put it down. Now, flash forward to a few months back where I’m perusing the stacks of the Ferndale library and come upon the book I discarded years back. Again, this wasn’t why I was in the library so I put it down.

Then, as luck would have it, I had nothing in my queue to read. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the title or the author’s name, but I remembered the tree. That damn tree on the cover plagued me. I went to the library and thought “I’ll just walk through the stacks around where I saw it the last time.” And what? Pull out every book within the range of where I think I remember seeing it? Yep. That’s exactly what I did. And people! It worked! My stupid plan worked.

Now, I have to say that if you look on my page (linked below) you will notice that I finished this book back in early December. The delay on this post is simple, friends. Gilmore Girls. Yes, again I was distracted by the damn Netflix! Also, I was given a copy of Cary Elwes’s book As You Wish for Christmas, which I am almost done with and will blog about it promptly this time. Enough of my prattling. On to the book.

I tore through the first half of The Magicians where you are introduced to Quentin, Alice, Penny, Eliot, Josh, and Janet. You also meet, Julia, a girl with whom Quentin is infatuated with at his highschool. Julia bugged me. She seemed like she was going to go somewhere, like she was going to have an arch then she just disappears. Either way, Quentin dreams of living life in Fillory a fictional place, much like Narnia (I’ll come back to that in a second), when out of the blue he is transported to a school in upstate NY that is safeguarded by magic. He takes a strange written test and then goes through a rigorous physical magic test as well. Not really sure what he’s doing he passes anyway. Enter the Physical Kids, that is what the gang mentioned above call themselves. They go through school together and grow to really care about one another; a romance blossoms between Quentin and Alice, which you see coming from the first time they meet but it’s satisfying non the less. All of the magic happenings and all the things they go through at school are thrilling! I couldn’t put the book down…that is…until they “graduate” from magic school.They laze around a New York apartment, drinking, having sex, dabbling in magic. They become so severely bored that they betray one another. Which just made me sad, honestly. Then Penny stumbles back into the picture, he had been absent for a while, he’s come with amazing news. He has a button. A button that will get them to Fillory.

Now, folks, I have a problem with Fillory. I love Fillory. I think it’s a great place and it picked the pace of the book up again, but it’s too much like Narnia. The parallels are so similar that I would have to stop reading, especially if I was at work having my shift drink and ask my literature major friend JoBeth; “Did this happen in Narnia? Did that happen in Narnia? Wait, weren’t there four kids in Narnia?” I asked her so many Narnia questions that I think I may have annoyed her (Sorry, JB.) but she finally looked at me one day and said “Fillory is really bothering you, isn’t it?” Yeah, it did. I couldn’t get over the similarities. Correction, I still can’t get over the similarities, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book. I loved the book and I’m looking forward to returning to Fillory and Quentin and the gang in The Magician King. 

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