“Last fall, Princess of Landover was released…a new book in the Landover series after more than a decade. I had read the Landover books back in the 90s but had largely forgotten many details of the story, so I decided I may as well catch back up before reading the new book.
In Magic Kingdom For Sale -- Sold, we follow a meandering lawyer in his quest to find purpose in a life that has become dull and unfulfilling. On a whim, he responds to an advertisement selling the right to be king in a fantasy realm called Landover. He initially expects some sort of special effects or other technological wizardry but is shocked to quickly discover that this magical world is real and with it come all sorts of dangers and adventures.
Ben Holliday is officially king, but the kingdom is a mess, thanks largely to the neglect caused by the continual sale of kingship and the lack of successful kings doing the job. Although set up for failure in many ways, Ben decides to give it his all and actually try to succeed at the job that many before him had run away from.
The concept itself is intriguing and a lot of fun. It's the sort of fantasy I remember from my youth and wanted to experience…the idea that if you found the right path, took the right turn, or moved a certain rock, there would be a passageway to an amazing land where magic was real, fantastic creatures and races flourished and anything was possible. Instead of merely happening on the kingdom, the adventure is taken up a notch by making Ben king (even if his power is largely limited due to lack of political recognition in the land).
The writing is solid and I could really visualize a lot of what was going on. The characters are fun and well crafted, though sometimes not quite as three-dimensional as I would have liked. Ben himself is a good full character though I often found myself frustrated with his perceptions and doubts.
The plot is enjoyable and believable. We wander the land with Ben and his new found friends as they try to show citizens of Landover that he, Ben, is in fact king and he deserves to be recognized as such. All of the factions have natural doubts but slowly they set up specific conditions under which they'll recognize his authority. And those conditions set up a variety of fun adventures.
The fantasy action itself isn't anything terribly revolutionary or exciting in terms of the Fantasy genre. However, the intriguing characters, the well constructed plot tension, and the solid writing make this a worthwhile read.
One note that put me off a little bit because I had forgotten about it, is the fact that Ben Holliday swears. In Brooks's Shannara series, the language is very subdued. They have their own form of swearing (Shades) but generally the language is very "G" rated. Landover's language is still mild by comparison but would be "PG" rather than "G." While this did strike me as odd, it was realistic when considering that Ben is an American lawyer from the heart of Chicago in the 19080s.
I look forward to re-reading the series and getting back into the heart of Landover. Most people I talk to don't really consider the Landover series to be Brooks's best work. Many even shun then. While I agree that he has many books that are better, Magic Kingdom is well worth reading and is a lot of fun as long as you go into it not expecting some sprawling fantasy epic with deep reaching effect.
3 out of 5 stars”
“This is the first Fantasy novel I read as a kid. I never could get into the sequels but I have to give this book credit for my life-long love of fantasy. I gave it three stars because I don't know how good it would be to read now. Since I thought it was good at the time it must be pretty bad, right? hahah!”j s wrote this review Monday, June 21, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I've been a big fan of Terry's Shannara series for years, but for some reason I could never bring myself to read this one. Not quite sure why- I guess because the summery sounded too cliche, but I finally decided to go for it.
Overall, it was a decent read. Not particularly one of his best or unique, but solid and well told. I think he stuck too close to a lot of classic fantasy themes without adding anything particularly special the way he did with Shannara. Not a bad thing, but it didn't make it stand out much. The characters were pretty typical, not hateable, but not special enough for me to like them. I rated it midrange because it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't fabulous either.”
“Novel idea that kept me interested, though a little unbelievable at times.”Tracy P wrote this review Sunday, May 9, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Really fun book - if you like fantasy series but you want a light, enjoyable read then this series is perfect for you. In particular the first book is very lighthearted and fun - its basically the main character and cast bumbling through the running of a run down country. Pick it up - and enjoy it!”Tim P wrote this review Thursday, May 6, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The first of my mom's books that I pirated (when I got sick of reading through kids' books and being done in 2 days.)
Interesting concept: There's an ad in the paper: Magic Kingdom for Sale.
This guy is so "done" with his life and where he's at that he actually calls the number listed (even though any rational person would say that this should be a joke.) His friends think he's crazy, but he liquidates his assets and buys it anyway. And of course, since this is a book, it's not a joke. He arrives to a neglected kingdom: a castle which is falling apart (because it's a living castle in mourning over the fact that it has no king), a man who's been turned into a dog by the incompetent sorcerer, and the like.
Oh - and the awesome balcony that will fly you all across the kingdom to have a look around. (You can't get off - so you can't travel there by balcony - but it sure beats looking at a bunch of squiggles on a map.)”
“Fun light reading.”Madlyn R wrote this review Thursday, April 29, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book is kind of hard because it has some words that i don't really understand but i am getting through it. This is a good book because it is about a fantasy world that anyone would dream of but it also has a problem. I think that this book is great because of the descriptive language because of the descriptive language i can visualize it better”Alex H wrote this review Wednesday, April 28, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“One of my all time favorite books! This is the series that got me interested in fantasy in the first place. I used to use any excuse possible to dye my skin green so I could secretly pretend to be Willow :)”Martha K wrote this review Saturday, April 24, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No