Lev Grossman’s The Magician King is a fantasy novel about Quentin Coldwater. It is the sequel to The Magicians, in which Quentin learns that magic is real, attends Brakebills College, and graduates as a classically trained magician. Upon graduation, Quentin learns that Fillory, a fantasy world that he and his friends had always assumed was just a work of fiction by Christopher Plover, is actually real and they rediscover the way to travel to it. When The Magician King opens, Quentin, two of his fellow graduates from Brakebills, Eliot and Janet, and Julia, who went to high school with Quentin, rule as the two kings and two queens of Fillory. In The Magician King, Quentin, who has always viewed himself as the hero of his own adventure, learns the true meaning of what it means to be a hero.
Quentin and his fellow monarchs are on a quest, though not one that is too trying. After all, “everything was easy. Nothing was hard. The dream had become real.” The kings and queens of Fillory are searching for the “Seeing Hare,” a Unique Beast of Fillory that has the power to see the future. They are just about to catch it when they realize that the hare has set a trap for them. The monarchs stop before a massive clockwork tree. The face of the clock has been destroyed, giving the monarchs pause. Quentin shoots an arrow at the tree and watches it stop in the air before shattering. Looking at it, Quentin feels a thrill of adventure and urges his friends to join him on a new quest. However, he ultimately decides not to approach the tree. The monarchs instead leave the meadow to eat lunch and drink champagne. They are interrupted by Jollyby, Master of the Hunt, who has caught the Seeing Hare. When Jollyby asks the hare what it sees in their future, it shares that it sees “death and destruction...disappointment and despair!” Jollyby suddenly has blood coming out of his mouth. He coughs and dies.
Back at Castle Whitespire, the monarchs try to figure out who killed Jollyby. Meanwhile, Quentin and Julia volunteer to travel to Outer Island, a small island on the eastern edge of the Fillorian Empire that has not paid its taxes for a couple years. Quentin reflects sardonically that this will be his final quest. In preparation for his journey, Quentin holds a tournament to find the greatest swordsman of the realm, and the winner is Bingle, a...
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