As a sequel to The Magicians‘ strange and fascinating tale of magicians as lost and debauched trust kids, The Magician King fails to build effectively on the asked question: what do you when you can do anything?

Technically, it answers in the form of the too pat, “find a purpose,” which, yes, is correct, but too facile by half.

However, as a sort of interesting fantasy adventure, it works. It also tries to tie up the two strands of this second book, the tale of Julia, who paid a great price to learn magic outside the official university system (it’s complicated) and the quest of Quentin (often with Julia) to… well, often, it’s just a quest to find and/or complete a quest. They come up with a high purpose towards the end and resolve the two interlocking tales, but it, like the original question, feels too neatly tied up.