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The First Page of "The Magicians Land."
This is the first page of the first chapter of my novel in progress, working title: The Magician’s Land. It’s the third book in the Magicians trilogy, and it starts out from the point of view of a new character named Plum. Like the other point-of-view characters from the first two books, Quentin and Julia, Plum is a magician-in-training, but unlike Quentin and Julia she’s not depressed and anti-social.
You could say it all started out as an innocent prank, but that wouldn’t strictly be true. It wasn’t that innocent. It was just that Wharton was behaving badly, and in the judgment of the League he had to be punished for it. Then maybe he would cut it out, or behave a little less badly, or at the very least the League would have the satisfaction of having caused Wharton to suffer, and that counted for something. A lot really.
You couldn’t call it innocent. But you had to admit it was pretty understandable. And anyway is there really any such thing as an innocent prank?
Plum was president of the League — unelected but undisputed — and also its founder. In enlisting the others she had presented the League as a glorious old Brakebills tradition, which it actually wasn’t, probably, though since Brakebills had been around for something like 400 years it seemed very likely to Plum that there must have been another League at some point in the past, or at any rate something along the same lines that you could count as a historical precedent. You couldn’t rule out the possibility. Though in fact she’d gotten the idea from a P.G. Wodehouse story.
They met after hours in a funny little trapezoidal study off the West Tower that as far as they could tell had fallen off the faculty’s magical security grid, so it was safe to break curfew there. Plum was laying full length on the floor, which was the position from which she usually conducted League business. The rest of the girls were scattered limply around the room on couches and chairs, like confetti from a successful but exhausting party that was thankfully now all but over.
Plum made the room go silent – it was a little spell that ate sound in about a 10-yard radius – and all the attention immediately focused on her. When Plum did a magic trick, everybody noticed.
“Let’s put it to a vote,” she said solemnly. “All those in favor of pranking Wharton, say aye.”
amazon.com interviews Lev Grossman, The Magicians author, about his final book in the trilogy, The Magician's Land.
Fans of Lev Grossman’s bestselling novels The Magicians and The Magician King, which follow the adventures of Quentin Coldwater in the fantasy land of Fillory, have been waiting for more details on The Magician’s Land, the upcoming third book in the series. Omnivoracious decided to interview Grossman about the new book, and the series in general. His answers give readers some teasing glimpses of the novel—and two short excerpts!
Amazon.com: How long now have you been living with the characters from this series, and does it get easier to write about this world over time?
Lev Grossman: I started writing The Magicians in mid-2004. So these characters have been around for (pause while writer tries to do math) nine years. Except for the Beast. He arrived in a dream in 1996.
Writing about them gets both easier and harder. Easier because I know the characters and the world very well. I don’t have to think about how they would behave: I just know. But it’s harder, too, because the best stuff always comes when the characters and the world surprise me. Julia for example—I truly never knew what she would do next, or where she would turn up, but whatever and wherever it was, it was always exciting. And occasionally appalling. But never dull. Can these characters keep on surprising me forever, now that I know them this well? I don’t know. But just to be safe I’m going to quit before they stop.
Amazon.com: Did you have an inkling of a third book in mind when you wrote The Magicians?
Grossman: I didn’t even have an inkling of a second book when I wrote The Magicians. I had no idea if anybody would want to publish it. So I didn’t want to jinx things by even thinking about a sequel, let alone a third book. But once I started writing The Magician King, the core idea for The Magician’s Land arrived pretty quickly after that. I wasted a lot of time doubting myself and trying out alternatives, but in the end it wouldn’t be denied.
Amazon.com: Although of course book two continued the story of The Magicians, it also seemed like a departure—not the same thing served up again. Can you give us some idea of how different this third book will be? And what excites you about writing it?
Grossman: My attention span is too short to tell the same kind of story twice. I just can’t do it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m like everyone else: if I find a bunch of characters I want to hang out with, and a world I want to hang out in, I don’t want the author to throw them out and start over with the next book. But you’re right, The Magician Kingwas a different kind of story from The Magicians, and The Magician’s Land will be different from either of them.
You could think of the first book as a sort of coming-of-age novel, along the lines of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, andThe Magician King as an epic patterned after The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I don’t know how to label the third book, but it’s neither of those. I keep coming back to the phrase “rich and strange,” but that’s not really a genre, is it? I can tell you what the Narnian antecedents are: The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle. (Which are, of course, the story of the creation of Narnia and the story of its destruction.) Whatever those are, that’s whatThe Magician’s Land is going to be.
Amazon: Could you give us an inkling of how book three starts?
Grossman: I can tell you exactly how it starts. It starts back at Brakebills—I really missed writing about a magic school, so I took the action back there. We’re reading about a new character, a senior named Plum, who’s planning some harmless mischief. But Plum is hiding a dark secret. Obviously nothing could possibly go wrong here.
Amazon.com: Is there a phrase or sentence you could provide—perhaps even an excerpt from your draft—that would be suitably mysterious and teasing and yet, to you, to speak to something important about the novel?
Grossman: Having massively overthought this question, I wound up with two different excerpts that I can’t seem to choose between. I’m not sure either of them tells you anything important, but here they are.
One is about a Brakebills student named Wharton and his remarkable pencils:
“Wharton’s personal pencils really were remarkable pencils: olive green, and made from some oily, aromatic wood that released a waxy aroma reminiscent of distant exotic rainforest trees. Instead of the usual fleshy pink the erasers were a light-devouring black, and they were bound in rings of a dull-grey brushed steel that looked too industrial and high-carbon for the task of merely containing erasers. He kept them in a flat silver case like a cigarette case, which also contained (in its own crushed-velvet nest) a sharp little knife that he used to keep them sharpened to wicked points.”
The other passage is about Quentin discovering that he has undergone a subtle, mysterious transformation:
“Quentin snuffed the candle out and lit it again. The light that played around his hands as he worked the spell was a little more intense than it would have been a week ago. In the darkness of his room he could see that the colors were shifted a bit toward the violent, violet end of the spectrum. The power came more easily, and it buzzed a little harder and louder in his fingers.”
Amazon.com: Those are certainly evocative! Can you imagine writing further books in this series, or is there a sense of finality now?
Grossman: It really is my full and total intention to end the series here. But I’m sure Ursula K. Le Guin thought that when she finished the Earthsea trilogy. If I had another good idea for this world, I wouldn’t let it go to waste. But Quentin’s story will be over.
Very disappointed to find the "Fillory" tag with like 12 total posts on it....
…I’m also disappointed the rights to The Magicians has been purchased by Fox, which means they’re probably gonna take out all the grit that makes the book so good. I hope they realize this is not Harry Potter, this is not Narnia, or Lord of the Rings, or some supernatural teen triangle drama. Not that those books, films, and shows aren’t entertaining, but Lev Grossman’s work is just NOT that. And I hope they don’t ruin his version of magic.