Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hail to the King

The worst part about sequels is having to wait for them. I learned this lesson very early in my literary life, when I was reading the Goosebumps series. As a kid, I was what you could safely call a ravenous reader, finishing the newest book in the series the day it came out, and then having to wait for the next one. This doesn't seem particularly impressive until you take into account that there were over 60 of the suckers.

Fortunately for younger me, the Goosebumps books were released at a breakneck monthly pace. While it didn't feel particularly fast at the time, it has certainly felt expedient when compared to the wait I have had to endure for the sequel to Lev Grossman's The Magicians. Amusingly, I learned of the sequel's existence the same way I learned about forthcoming Goosebumps book - from a blurb in the back of the first book. That was in 2010. July, I think. I had to wait a lot longer than a month.

Jason, Daniel, and Amie get first dibs on new galleys. A few months ago, Jason came into the receiving room and rather hesitantly told me that he had obtained a galley of The Magician King. I think he was concerned that I was going to mug him in the back alley and take it. Admittedly, the thought crossed my mind. He quickly added that a few additional copies were on the way. He retreated safely, my jealous bloodlust temporarily stayed. And a few days later, I had my own copy.

For those unfamiliar with the general premise of The Magicians, I would refer you to one of our previous blog entries. We rejoin our protagonist Quentin Coldwater back in the magical land of Fillory, where he and his friends are royalty. Quentin literally has the entire magical world at his fingertips - and he's bored out of his mind. To break the monotony, he volunteers to lead an expedition to a faraway island who has neglected to pay taxes for a long time. He doesn't really expect an adventure to come from this seemingly mundane journey, but he quickly discovers that something exceedingly powerful is threatening his magical home - as well as all magicians everywhere.

Grossman's trademark style is everywhere in this book, and that's a good thing. While still firmly grounded in the realm of fantasy, he effortlessly weaves in literary and pop culture references (there's a particularly clever Lisbeth Salander reference) that makes the text accessible to general fiction readers as well as diehard fantasy fans. The pacing is excellent, the characters are quirky and relatable, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep you up late into the night.

I drew these conclusions from the advanced reader copy. And then, I came upon this entry, while perusing Lev Grossman's blog. And this, from slightly earlier. Everyone knows that galleys aren't necessarily the finished product, but apparently the galley I got was just a step above a draft. Some might feel cheated in my position, but instead I'm incredibly optimistic. If I liked the story as much as I did in its unfinished form, I can only imagine how fantastic the final finished copy is.

If you haven't read The Magicians, go pick up a copy and read it. And then call and reserve your copy of The Magician King, which lands on 8/9. You won't be disappointed. But regardless of whether or not you read the book, if you stumble across anyone with tattooes like these...

...think twice before crossing them. Especially if you spot the 50.

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