So, I finished the trilogy.
It wasn’t bad. I get why people liked it. But I feel like it became more like just another fantasy series, as it moved away from the question of “what is worth doing if you are a rich and powerful magician under 25 who literally can just mess around, drink, and fornicate more or less indefinitely?”
Also, the gender politics became… questionable.
In most of the first book, the protagonist, Quentin Coldwater was depicted as being on his way to being a great magician, but as the books progressed, he was more as merely very good, but also second class to some of the truly great ones around him. Which was fine, as a narrative choice. Interesting, even.
There were two characters that made it seem awkward.
First, is Julia, who actually spends the second book as a sort of co-protagonist. The second book spends roughly half of its pages going over what Julia did while Quentin was at school. It was tragic, brutal, and great. But then she sort of disappeared and Quentin re-emerged as the protagonist. Re-emerged, at the expense of a more interesting and more powerful female magician.
Another one, Alice, died at the end of the first book and came back towards the last half of the second book and reveals that not only is she still (and always was) better than Quentin, that she has actually led an incredibly interesting life while Quentin was doing his thing.
It all winds up feeling a little… icky.