The Magician’s Land

magicianslandcoverWritten by Lev Grossman; published 2014.

The Magician’s Land is the final book in a trilogy written by Lev Grossman. I read and reviewed the first two books a few years ago (The Magicians and The Magician King) and loved them both. I was thrilled to finish up the trilogy and was even more thrilled by how well it finished.

The Magicians trilogy unashamedly rips off two of the big fantasy stories, Harry Potter and Narnia. We first meet Quentin Coldwater as a brilliant and cynical teenager who is invited to attend Brakebills, a college in upstate New York that teaches magic to the best of the best of American students. The second half of The Magicians takes place in Fillory (a Narnia-like fantasy land), as Quentin and his friends discover Fillory, save it and become its rulers. The Magician King takes place primarily in Fillory where Quentin and his old friend Julia are needed to save Fillory from the loss of magic. The end of the book finds Quentin banished from Fillory and sent back to Earth. It’s a bittersweet ending and a bit of a cliffhanger- Quentin has been obsessed with Fillory since he was a child. What is he to do now that he no longer has it?

So The Magician’s Land begins about 6 months after the end of The Magician King. Quentin is back on Earth and, after a short stint as a Brakebills professor, agrees to help steal a briefcase with ties to Fillory and the Chatwin children that first discovered the magical land. It’s a excellent book, and probably the best of the trilogy, that wraps up the story lines of all the major characters. I know that many readers found Quentin and his friends to be obnoxious, selfish, and self-absorbed, but that was actually one of my favorite things about this series. It gets a little boring when fantasy heroes tend to be either lone wolf types with a heart of gold or else they are nobodies that actually turn out to be super special and the only ones that can save the world. But here we’ve got characters that are just as messed up and fallible as, well, normal, real life people. This was the first book I’ve read in a long time that I wanted to keep reading until I finished it.

I would love to hear what other people thought of this book or the entire trilogy!

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The Feminist Mad Max

I remember when I first learned there was going to be a new Mad Max movie. I was ecstatic. It was a teaser on a DVD and it was quite some time ago (I want to say a year, maybe even a year and a half?). It was a teaser in the true sense of the word: short, disconnected images flashing across the screen with little speech. It was hard to tell the plot then but with a movie like this the plot isn’t that important. Basically all I knew was that it had Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy as Max.

And now I’ve seen it. And yes, it IS as good as everyone’s saying. The action starts almost immediately and by action I mean the car chase. Because essentially the Mad Max movies are drawn out car chases- a simultaneous warning against and glorification of car culture taken to the extremes. By now, most everyone has probably seen this movie if they are going to so I don’t see a need to go through what it’s about. But if you’ve read anything about Fury Road, you know that this is a “feminist” movie. As far as I can make out, it’s considered a feminist movie because it has a main female character, Imperator Furiosa, who is not there to be a love interest, a damsel in distress, or a well shaped body for men to ogle at. She is a remarkable woman and leader who is better than the men at quite a few things- and the men even acknowledge this. She is, in fact, portrayed like a human being. I think we can all agree that Hollywood has problems with creating female characters and Mad Max: Fury Road is a step in the right direction.

furiosa

That being said, I have a problem with the idea that this is what feminism means now. Because Furiosa is being hailed as a hero because of how traditionally masculine her actions are. She fights, she shoots guns, she blows stuff up, she kills people. The only thing that really differentiates her from the other (male) characters is that she has a more delicate bone structure. And you can make the argument that there is no place for traditional femininity in a Mad Max movie (and I’ll probably agree with you on a lot of points), I’m tired of being told that the women I should admire are the ones that act like men. While part of me loves Imperator Furiosa, with her toughness and fight skills, just as large a part of me wants to see elegant ladies in beautiful dresses having tea parties, which is probably why I loved the recent Cinderella movie so much. So yes, let’s admire Furiosa and Fury Road for creating women that act like human beings but let’s also stop acting like the only admirable women are the ones that act like men.

Here’s a movie review of Fury Road that better expresses what I’m trying to say about Mad Max “Feminism”.

Dragon’s Loyalty Award!

I’m not sure what this is really; WordPress seems to have all these delightful little awards that have no purpose beyond fun and perhaps a writing prompt. And considering that I haven’t written anything here since the end of March (*cringe*), perhaps this will help me get back in the swing of posting somewhat regularly (in my defense, I’ve shifted work locations several times over the past few months to help out with serious short staffing issues in the library system I work at- things should be back to normal in a few weeks!).

dragonsloyaltyaward

Anyways! Here are the rules:

  1. Display Award on your Blog.  (Done)
  2. Announce your win with a post and thank the Blogger who awarded you.  (This is that post, thanks to follow shortly.)
  3. Present 15 deserving Bloggers with Award. (Everyone I would have sent this too has already been awarded this so…I’m just going to skip to #5.)
  4. Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded.
  5. Write seven interesting things about you. (See below!)

Many thanks to Jubilare for the nomination. Her blog is always excellent and her thoughtful comments on my posts generally make me wish I could just delete what I wrote and paste what she said instead. Be sure to check out the post she wrote (transcribed?) when she accepted her nomination- it’s far cleverer than what I will be posting.

Without further ado, here are 7 interesting things about me:

  1. Water makes me happy. I don’t know why but if I get into a lake/ocean/pool, I will stay there until I have to get out. There is something so blissful about floating or swimming for me. And if I can’t get a large body of water, even charming trickling rills will lift my mood by a thousandfold.
  2. The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a farmer. Decades later, I realize that what I really want to be when I grow up is… a farmer. Don’t get me wrong- I’m a public librarian and, mostly, I love what I do. But there is something so appealing to me about the self sufficiency that farming could provide. I do realize that I have a tendency to idealize that lifestyle so I read as much as I can about it and grow what I can in my townhome.
  3. I’ve had pet cats my entire life but I’ve never wanted anything more than I want a dog. I love cats- they are affectionate and independent and absolutely crazy. But a dog! It would be a completely different experience than cats and one I hope to experience soon. Ideally, I would have an Irish Wolfhound. Their large size, strange appearance, and gentle demeanor makes them irresistible to me.
  4. I almost went to school for costume design. Two years into college, I realized I was deeply unhappy with the school I was at (the school was fine, but just wasn’t right for me). I had grown up sewing and had recently taken a costume design course that I loved. I actually chose the school I transferred to based on the fact that they offered a costume design major. Sometimes I regret that I ended up with a history major instead. (Only sometimes.)
  5. I have never been to Ikea. I’m not sure if this is a big deal. There is an Ikea in my city. I’ve never felt a strong desire to go there but when I tell friends I have never been, they seem shocked. Is it a big deal? It seems exhausting and expensive and potentially very bland. Am I wrong? Is there some specialness about Ikea and its wares that I will only discover once I visit?
  6. I love wearing skirts. In fact, I almost never wear pants, at least not outside my house. I own 2 pairs of jeans but usually an hour or 2 into wearing them I am regretting the decision. There’s something very feminine and comfortable and elegant about wearing skirts for me.
  7. I want to go to New Zealand more than anywhere else in the world. And if I could have a farm in New Zealand…heaven on earth.