Lev Grossman burst into international prominence with his bestselling The Magicians, a novel that renovated fantasy tropes familiar from classics by C.S. Lewis with thoroughly modern situations and college-age characters. By novel's end, readers had been thoroughly enchanted by the magical land of Fillory, intrigued by the secret college of magic, Brakebills, and main character Quentin Coldwater had been tested by worlds both mundane and fantastical.
Now Grossman is back with a sequel, The Magician King, which has been receiving even more accolades than the first book in the series. Five years have passed since the events chronicled in The Magicians. Quentin and his friends rule Fillory as kings and queens. For awhile, everything seems tranquil, but a journey to the outer reaches of the kingdom results in disaster. Accompanied by his friend Julia, Quentin must negotiate danger back in the mundane world. But, never fear! The novel continues to expand on the magical marvels set out in the first novel, including dragons, portals, and spells. What has become readily apparent to this reader, at least, is that Grossman is upping the ante with each book, and deepening his characterization. The addition of Julia works nicely as a counterbalance to Quentin's point of view, too. If as Grossman has noted one main aim of the series is to update the classics of children's literature, like the Narnia series, for adults, he's off to a good start.
For this exclusive video interview I caught up with Lev Grossman at the rather boisterous Amsterdam Ale House in New York City in May and talked to him about the series and the new novel.