Author: Lev Grossman
Series: The Magicians, book 2
Recommendation: Read The Magicians first, if you like it, the sequel is for you.
Summary: Quentin, Elliott, Janet, and Julia are the rulers of Fillory. They have a castle, all the amenities they could ever want, and their every wish catered to. However, Quentin isn't happy and searches for a quest; of course he soon begins a journey with higher stakes than he expected.
Reactions: The Magician King turned out to be everything I expected of the sequel to the first book. It had a combination or magic, heroism, quests, and love combined with grittiness, pain, loathing, etc. This is just the style of the novels, an interesting combination of children book world with adult realities.
At the start the book wandered quite a bit and I didn't see the plot coming together until well into the second half of the book. The first part just felt like Quentin stumbling around getting into trouble one way or another. However, the plot did come together and made a lot more sense in the retrospective of the ending. The ending is indeed quite elegant and I am happy with how the author handled it.
As I read through the book, every so often, there would be a chapter following Julia's life on Earth after her failed examination at Brakebills and before her reunion with the gang in The Magicians. I rather liked her story being told, she turned out to be an interesting character with a lot of flaws, but sympathetic at times. I thought it was an interesting perspective on some of the events we only saw from Quentin's eyes before.
All in all, The Magician King was what I expected it to be. It was well-written and entertaining and gruesome in places, but it didn't blow me away. Still, it's a good read and one I would recommend to those who enjoyed the first book in the series.