Where I would have given The Magicians a flat 3.0, I felt The Magician King merited a 3.75, but since I wanted to make it clear how much more I enjoyed this book compared to its predecessor I gave it a 4.
That said, The Magician King wasn’t a slog like The Magicians was for its first 200 pages. Instead from the very beginning we are right into the story. We are introduced to the other animals and see the tears occurring in Fillory. The story has a grander scale as they are out to save all of magic by collecting the seven gold keys. It’s important and you get that feeling from the beginning.
Unfortunately, it suffered much of the same problems as the first book. The story often meandered and lingered in places it didn’t need to. You found yourself looping around without making major progress until you realize all the missteps allowed the story to all nearly fall into place in the end. That results in a story that is both satisfying as you see the pieces that came together and not in the sheer simplicity.
Quentin was never particularly interesting. I never wanted to see what made him tick. I wasn’t captivated by his acts. Instead he felt extraordinarily ordinary. That made him relatable. You felt like you could potentially be in his shoes. He wasn’t perfect but he was overall a good guy who made some bad choices along the way. Far from irredeemable and far from the kind of person who you’d expect to get such an awful ending. You have to understand his punishment felt partly justified but largely unfair. He wasn’t bad enough for it to be rightful punishment. Yet he wasn’t good enough that it felt like a complete atrocity. It felt, much like Quentin felt, a bit slighted and a lot apathetic.
Where The Magicians left me wanting to come back to see more of Fillory. the Magician King left me wanting more because I want to see Quentin actually get what he deserves.