This is third and final installment of Grossman’s trilogy, and frankly I was a bit disappointed in it. As with the other two books, this was about the futility of essentially everything, and it felt like Grossman got a bit lazy. Also there was definitely not enough of Julia who had very quickly become my favourite character in the previous book. There are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read this, stop now.
While Quentin is a bit older now, he’s still pretty mopey as he works as a Brakebills professor for a short spell before inevitably being fired due to some illegitimate use of magic. We meet Plum, a spunky young student who also gets expelled, but out of all the characters in this series she was probably my least favourite. I liked all the parts in Fillory with Janet and Elliot, even Josh and Poppy are ok, but I couldn’t stand Quentin and Plum in the real world.
Essentially Quentin decided to try and create his own world as Fillory is dying and in the process brings Alice back. I’m still unsure how I feel about this decision as, while I liked Alice, I had kind of made my peace with her being gone. Bringing her back also seemed out of line with what Grossman was trying to do. That and of course there’s a happy ending with Quentin saving the day. For all his harping on other Fantasy series, Grossman ends his the exact same way as the others, Fillory is saved, Quentin and Alice get to live happily ever after, and Julia continues livinge her existence as a demi-God (But really, where was she the rest of the book!)
Overall I enjoyed the trilogy, and while I guess the happy ending works, i never thought I’d be rooting against everything working out. It would have been nice if Grossman had just had Fillory die and everyone forced to adapt, although I guess maybe then it would have been too expected.
In lieu of a “further reading” section, I leave you with two of my favourite quotes from the book.
“It was funny about magic, how messy and imperfect it was. When people said something worked like magic they meant that it cost nothing and did exactly what you wanted it to. But there were lots of things magic couldn’t do. It couldn’t raise the dead. It couldn’t make you happy. It couldn’t make you good looking. And even with the things it could do, it didn’t always do them right. And it always, always cost something.”
“And it was inefficient. The system was ever airtight, it always leaked. Magic was always throwing off extra energy, wasting it in the form of sound, and heat, and light, and wind. It was always buzzing and singing and glowing and sparking to no particular purpose. Magic was decidedly imperfect. But the really funny thing, she thought, was that if it were perfect, it wouldn’t be so beautiful.”