Booked Up

“The Magic Will Not End”

The final part of Lev Grossman’s epic trilogy is worth your attention, even if you missed the first two.

By - Sep 11th, 2014 12:18 pm
The Magician's Land.

The Magician’s Land.

This week, I am recommending something unusual, the final volume in Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy, The Magician’s Land. Purists would never start at the end of a trilogy, but I think this book is good enough to make you set those prohibitions aside. Compulsives may balk, but I wouldn’t want to delay this kind of gratification just because I hadn’t read the two previous novels.

I have, in fact, read Grossman’s two earlier books: The Magicians and The Magician King. They form the foundation for the third and introduce the magical world of Fillory. Fillory’s story is part-Lord of the Rings, part-Narnia, and part-Harry Potter. But don’t expect wholesome adventure and enchantment. This is not your little nephew’s fantasy world. Grossman has created a very adult read with plenty of expletives, sex, and graphic violence.

The style of these books is witty and humorous, even when dire things are happening. Although Grossman has a truly original vision, he treats his aforementioned influences with a mixture of reverence and derision. The result is a refreshingly current amalgam of homage and parody. There is nothing stodgy or old-fashioned about these books, except for the conventions being shattered.

The title magician is Quentin Coldwater, the brilliant and troubled ex-king of Fillory. Exiled to his native Earth, he ends up teaching (disastrously) at his old magic alma mater, Brakebills (think R-rated Hogwarts). The view of magical pedagogy is both fascinating and oddly reminiscent of the worst of your school recollections.

Quentin soon becomes embroiled in a magical heist and finds himself closer to what he really wants: Fillory and his lost love, Alice. All of the plot lines converge as we find that Fillory is on the verge of apocalypse. It is here that all the stops are pulled and we are treated to a satirical version of the Bible’s Book of Revelation, complete with the death of worlds and the rise of anti-Christs.

Magic is a very combustible commodity in these books, but never more so than in this “last battle” mode. While we often think of “good” magic versus “bad,” we are instead forced to see that these constructs are not applicable in Grossman’s magical universe. As order disintegrates and previous alliances unravel, all expectations disappear, until the jolting conclusion.

If all of that sounds a little daunting for your first trip to Fillory, perhaps you would enjoy starting at the beginning, but don’t say I didn’t tell you that Lev Grossman has saved the best for last.


Spotlight on Local Writers: Peter Roller

Milwaukee’s Peter Roller is a music professor at Alverno College. He is also the author of Milwaukee Garage Bands: Generations of Grassroots Rock. A treasure trove of local musical groups, both amateur and professional, the book is part history and part tribute to the joys of playing music. One of the most wonderful aspects of Roller’s book is its irreplaceable collection of band photos.

Milwaukee Garage Bands: Generations of Grassroots Rock is published by The History Press. Dr. Roller’s website is and more information about the book can be found here.

Upcoming Book Events:

Friday, September 12 (2:00 PM): Betsy Woodman, author of Emeralds Included: A Jana Bibi Adventure, at Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee.(414) 332-1181

Friday, September 12 (7:00 PM): Madison’s Miki Knezevic, author of Behind God’s Back, at Boswell Book Company.

Sunday, September 14 (11:00 AM): Story Time with Jannis! She is reading Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won and Jon Klassen’sThis Is Not My Hat. Story Time is appropriate for ages 18 months and up at Boswell Book Company.

Sunday, September 14 (3:00 PM): Tom Angleberger, author of Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus: An Origami Yoda Book, at Boswell Book Company. This reading is appropriate for ages 8 and up.

Monday, September 15 (7:00 PM): Daniel Shumski, author of Will It Waffle?: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron, at Boswell Book Company. Samples will be provided by local author Julia Pandl.

Tuesday, September 16 (7:00 PM): Chelsea Cain, author of One Kick, at Boswell Book Company.

Wednesday, September 17 (6:00 PM): Haggerty Museum of Art Book Launch with Milwaukeean Kevin Miyazaki, author of Perimeter: A Contemporary Portrait of Lake Michigan, at 530 N. 13th Street in Milwaukee. Co-sponsored by Boswell Book Company.

Thursday, September 18 (4:00 PM): An Oak Creek Library Event with Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna, author and illustrator of The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, at 8620 S. Howell Avenue in Oak Creek.                           Co-sponsored by Boswell Book Company.

Thursday, September 18 (7:00 PM): Michael Perry, author of Visiting Tom and Truck, presents his debut middle-grade novel, The Scavengers, at Boswell Book Company.

Friday, September 19 (7:00 PM): United We Read, featuring writers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Creative Writing Program, at Boswell Book Company.
Send your book club picks and author event information to me at or on Facebook at And good reading!

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