My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Anti-hero, magician, and failed monarch Quentin Coldwater is back in New York, trying to make sense of life after Fillory. Some months after being expelled from his kingdom, in a last-ditch attempt to earn a living, Quentin takes a job with a band of other “renegade” magicians. Their assignment: to retrieve a magical object from a pair of thieves. Said magical object leads Quentin and his cohorts on a merry and dangerous chase. Meanwhile, back in Fillory, Eliot and Janet embark upon a quest of their own. Fillory, they are told, is dying, and they must find a sacred object of their own to save their land from utter destruction. These disparate storylines inevitably coincide, with some unexpected results and the return of a character or two we thought lost forever.
To get the best feel for this series, all three books (the other two titles are The Magicians and The Magician King) should be read one right after the other. It’s much easier to follow Quentin’s evolution as a character: from a whiny self-involved teenager to a 30-year-old man who makes a bad decision and does his best to make up for it. He’s not a saint by any means — and will never be one — but Quentin eventually acquires a little humility and grace and becomes a decent human being. That’s a satisfactory conclusion to this story all by itself.