Posted in books

Homeward Bound and The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

(Just so you know, we’ve been home for over a week. Since being home, our life has gone back to organized chaos–with school starting and all. But I wanted to chronicle our trip home, because it was pretty interesting.)

Home! The one bad thing about a road trip to vacation is that you have to drive home. And all you want to do, at that point, is sleep in your own bed. We did make it interesting, though, with some great stops. And some LONG days. Thank you Lord for giving me children that travel well.

We left semi-early, after a good breakfast with my parents, my aunt, and my cousin’s younger daughter. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was good to know that we would be home in a couple of days.

We headed north on I-25 and hit US 85 (which we could have caught from Greeley, but we went west first). Through Cheyenne and then Eastern Wyoming. Still north. I guess I’d probably been up that way as a child, but I don’t remember it. We had a ‘cabin’ Western Wyoming, west of Laramie, so going east from Cheyenne didn’t happen very often.

It was beautiful, in a bountiful plains, amber waves of grain kind of way. I could live there, as long as I could bring four or five of my favorite families with me. We could live off the land. Of course, I’d need wifi and wine. Although, with wifi I could order wine . . . .

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Cool family. Really, we’re cool.

And then up to South Dakota. We had decided to hit Mount Rushmore, if only for a few moments. We discovered, on our trip out, that it was also Sturgis week, so the roads were littered with cycles and trucks towing cycles. We drove into Deadwood, but so did half of the Harleys at Sturgis, so we didn’t stop. We did stop in Sturgis, where we made sure to get pictures. We may not be badass bikers, but we can pretend. As we drove into town, I told Ted I was so happy I no longer had a minivan, because then I’d be really dorky ;-).

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Awesome helmet.

I saw some interesting sites, including this really awesome helmet.

I also saw a sight I will never forget: I let my husband and older daughter out of the car to get tees at a booth and drove around the corner. A biker, or a man dressed like a biker, walked down the sidewalk in a leather vest, his leather riding chaps, and . . . a banana hammock. I began chanting, “Libby, don’t look. Libby don’t look.” She must not have, because she never said anything. Thank you Jesus for small miracles at Sturgis.

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My girls at a scenic overlook.

We then continued on to Mount Rushmore. We saw the monument, stopped to take pictures at a scenic overlook, but that was about all.

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Libby and the presidents.

 

 

 

We know we need to go back and do the hike. There are a lot of really cool things to see and do (including Deadwood, without the bikes).

We hit the hotel in Keystone, South Dakota. Good dinner, good night’s sleep. Up early the next morning. Hit the road. Boom! We really wanted to get home, so we only made a couple of stops. We HAD to make a detour to Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. Interesting, but really just a bunch of touristy shops with some fun stuff sprinkled in between.

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My girls and Annie Oakley.
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Ted being funny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the trip was “hurry up and get home.” Two 12 hour days of driving. We finally got home late on Sunday night. The dogs were THRILLED!!!! I was thrilled to sleep in my own bed, and thrilled that the cleaning lady cleaned our house and got us all spic and span.

The most amazing part. I drove. The whole trip to Colorado. The whole trip home. I drove it all. I am a driving rock star.

And now,  The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman.


 

The Magician’s Land is the final book in Lev Grossman’s wonderful Magician’s Trilogy. In case you haven’t had a chance to read the first two books, let me give a brief synopsis.

In the first book, The Magicians, we’re introduced to Quentin Coldwater, a brilliant, introspective young man with a love of the fictional, magical land of Fillory. Suddenly and without any real warning, Quentin learns that magic is real, and there is a real magical college in upstate New York. He’s admitted to the elusive Brakebills and whisked away. After a few years learning about magic, he takes the next step and learns that Fillory is real as well. And adventure insues.

In book two, The Magician King, we catch up with Quentin and his friends in Fillory, where they have been installed as royalty. It’s cool, it’s exciting, and it’s boring. When a quest comes Quentin’s way, he jumps at the chance. He and one of the queens sets of for adventure. In this book, we also learn some of the backgrounds and get fillers for the other royals.

And then, book three. The Magician’s Land takes place after the quest is over, and Quentin’s world has been turned upside down. He has been kicked out of Fillory for trespasses committed during the quest, and now must find his way in the real world. He takes up a place as a professor at Brakebills, but soon finds himself out on his ear and on another quest of sorts, this one involving a student with a Fillory connection. We see flashes of Fillory, which seems to be dying. And, although Quentin is gone from Fillory, his actions in the real world have consequences to the magical land. Quentin has a chance to redeem himself, and to save a world that he has always thought of as home.

I really loved these books. In The Magicians, Grossman gave us the perfect combination: Harry Potter’s Hogwarts combined with C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. But he adds in humor, cunning, and wit along with some pretty much adult themes to make them more. The first book stood on it’s own just fine; it didn’t need to be a trilogy at that point. With The Magician King he creates a definite second book of a trilogy. By the third book, The Magician’s Land, Quentin is nearly 30, and I really started to feel for him. He’s been through the ringer. He is, and always has been, melancholy and self-absorbed, but now his world is gone and he’s making it on his own. This is the book when Quentin finally starts to grow up and becomes a sort of hero.

It was a good ending to the series. I didn’t want to root for Quentin, but I did. The book does jump around a bit, but that is kind of necessary. Quentin seems to be a pretty mediocre magician, yet he is the guy who performs the most important feats of magic and makes the intellectual leaps in the right direction. I cheered for Quentin.

There are other series that I am glad when I turn that last page, others that leave me heartbroken when I finish. This one hit neither one of those notes. I loved the series, but it didn’t leave me with a sense of letdown after it was over. I will suggest this series until the cows come home, but I came back into the real world soon after it was done. Maybe it was because it was in the middle of a road trip. I don’t know. But read the series, let me know what you think!

 

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Author:

I love to read; writing is my outlet. My blog is my way to combine the two, with a some life stories thrown in for good measure.

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