Tuesday 19 April 2011

Cover Identity | Bow Before The Magician King

You know, back when I starting out, all I wanted to do with The Speculative Scotsman was talk about Tigana. So I talked about Tigana, at length. And yea, verily, it was good.

However, I realised within a few weeks and a handful of comments that somehow or other, word about TSS had gotten out. And I'd run out of ways to say Guy Gavriel Gay was - is - awesome.

So I bought a bunch of books. All the speculative fiction that'd been clogging up my shopping basket on Amazon - that I'd sat undecided on for weeks, months, even years in a few cases - I bought. Ostensibly so I'd have something to talk about. But mostly because it was a brilliant way of rationalising the purchase of still more fantasy and science fiction as a sort of investment.

And more books = more happy, right? :)

Anyway, among the batch of books I bought, way back when, was The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. I'd been lurking around the blogosphere for ages even then, and I remembered a few reviewers had adored it, and a few... had not, shall we say? What swung me in the end was the gorgeous cover art.

What I actually got when my rather massive delivery came through was, thanks to the wiles of some shady Marketplace seller, this:

And not even that. That in blue. Pffff.

In any event, the best laid plans and all that, because within a few weeks of launching The Speculative Scotsman the review copies had started coming in, and it was all I could do even then to keep up with them even then. So The Magicians floundered on my bookshelves. I alphabetised it and forgot it, all but: in part thanks to the dreary corridor cover art and in part because in short order I found I had so much else to talk about.


There's a sequel on the way. But of course there's a sequel on the way! The Magician King will be out in September here in the UK.

I've known this for a while.

What I didn't know, before Lev Grossman posted about it on his blog yesterday, was that it'd look like this:

Which, well...

Isn't that just the loveliest cover art you've seen in years? Absolutely beautiful. So very pretty I might just have to move The Magicians from the bookshelves to the TBR tower.

So what do you all think? What are your thoughts on the new UK cover art? And in a larger sense, how about The Magicians, anyway? Will it be up my alley or what?

Bear in mind I kept my grammar Nazi at bay long enough to adore the Harry Potter books quite despite myself, took a real shine to Spellwright, though the last Orson Scott Card - The Lost Gate - left me cold, I confess. Am I even thinking along the write lines? Where if I might ask does The Magicians stand in the scheme of things?


  1. If there is one thing that one cannot complain about in the Magicians, it's the language. I confess, I had to pull out the ole dictionary (well, tap the word for the ole dictionary, anyway) a few times.

    For example, it's never 'a hedge trimmed in the shape of a bear'. It's 'a topiary bear'.

    There's been a lot of argument regarding whether The Magicians is an Harry Potter "rip off". But that gives the wrong impression. It's a story in the vein of the classic magic school, a la Earthsea or (yes) Harry Potter, but viewed through the lens of harsh realism that is so popular these days (think Richard K Morgan or Joe Abercrombie), and set in our modern world. Though it does have touches of Narnia style Alt Fantasy.

    At the very least it's worth reading to make sense of rambling comments like this :P

  2. I wasn't particularly impressed by The Magicians. It had a dark appeal to it, but though the writing was clear and enticing, the characters all rubbed off me the wrong way and the story tried at once to satirize popular children's fantasy books, as well as emulate them. It didn't work too well.

    I'm surprised and a little frustrated to learn that there's a sequel. It was not, in my mind, a good enough book to warrant a sequel. Nor was the ending so open it needed one... I guess that's just publishing today, right?

    But yeah, those are pretty nice-looking covers.

  3. These comments have not helped! :P

    Actually, perhaps they have.

    Anonymous makes The Magicians sound like it hones close to some genre tropes I can totally get behind, yet approaches the whole magic school thing with such a different tack I'd be frankly fascinated to see it taken, whereas Bibliobio - from your impressions I can only imagine how horribly it could all go wrong. Which can be kind of fun to watch, right?

    Meanwhile Wert's been telling me The Magicians might have been potential extended canon Narnia, the very idea of which is rather perversely pushing me more towards this book than away.

    Alright. All points taken. The Magicians sounds just interesting enough I think I might have to give it a go after all.

    Appreciate it, folks.

    And Bibliobio: I'm right there with you. Feels like every book's fodder for a series if it's successful enough, these days, and I've long since grown wary and weary of stories I'd have to wait years to see told. I wonder if the grass was ever any greener, though?