Trilogies are as inevitable as ever, I suppose. When I did hear a third book in Lev Grossman's The Magicians
series was now available, though, I didn't rush to find it. After that, it took hearing the novels had been adapted into a television series to get me thinking about that story again; I began recording episodes only to find I couldn't find the time to watch them, and when it was a choice between recording another one of them and recording another old movie I left the series behind. (I at least don't have to watch through films shown on Turner Classic Movies to edit out commercials before recording them to DVDs.) However, when I stopped into the local library for a few minutes I happened to see The Magician King
on a display shelf, and that got me wondering, so I headed off to the "G" shelf to see a copy of The Magician's Land.
Once I had it signed out, I got through it with the speed that can surprise me when reading novels these days.
If there was one thing I'd like to say helped there, it was the impression that by this point in the series the protagonist Quentin Coldwater had been forced to grow up somewhat. What I'd sometimes seemed compelled to see as a relentless, familiar assault of "geek
culture references" seemed toned down in his
case, anyway. Perhaps it really had always been his friends who were more likely to make those references, though; Quentin did wind up making some of them in some particularly stressful situations, to say nothing of cooking bacon
to help get through one tough patch right after what had seemed a great feat accomplished wound up a little more ambiguous. I don't know quite why that grates on me the way it does, beyond the possibility it's about assuming a "correct opinion" that doesn't take some things seriously even as it refuses to find something else apparently worthy of attention. I did, in any case, get to wondering just how I would have reacted to a hypothetical student at the magical academy Brakebills being presented as "not having got over a teen interest in anime" and declaring herself a "magical girl"...
The novel as a whole might have seemed less inclined to indulge in the shock value of louche young things in a "faux Harry Potter meets faux Narnia" setting (although the characters do still drink like fishes). Its structure flashed back and forth to begin with to set up the ambiguous situation in the very first chapter, but this didn't carry all the way through. I didn't think of this as a burden; the conclusion in fact seemed quite satisfying. That got me wondering about returning to the first novels and reading the whole thing over again.