Swashbuckle Up

King Quentin is restless. The luxurious court life isn’t for him; he may be king, but he’s still looking for the next big thing. Swashbuckling, anyone? Make that swashbingling, as Quentin takes on Bingle, the realm’s best swordsman, as his bodyguard. Quentin and his crew, which includes Queen Julia, set sail for the Outer Island in order to collect back taxes. Why a king would undertake such a journey personally is questionable, but this is Quentin – questionable behavior is his norm. What does cock an eyebrow is why would Queen Julia accompany him on his questionable task? Because this is their story to share, obviously!

In The Magicians Julia was Quentin’s high school crush whom he inadvertently crushed by not taking her to Brakebills with him. She wasn’t supposed to remember taking – and failing – the magical entrance exam, but she did, and the memory haunted her. Julia sought out magical training in back alleys and basements while Quentin was taught at Brakebills, and in The Magician King we see just how much she sacrificed for her craft.

The Magician King is a more mature book than The Magicians. It’s much less Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia (I’ll take the voyage of the Muntjac over The Voyage of the Dawn Treader any day!) and far more The Aeneid. It isn’t merely magic, it’s myth. It’s also a fine second act, as Quentin gets to become a hero at last, with all the suffering that a successful quest entails (think Jason and the Argonauts). Julia also becomes more than she was before (what is it with Quentin’s girlfriends undergoing supernatural transformations? Poppy might want to get herself checked for magical STDs at the centaur clinic!). With each succeeding book this series becomes more than it was before, and I look forward to the next evolution!

 

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