Books: Grossman Returns Triumphantly with ‘The Magician King’

Two years ago, author Lev Grossman took adult readers on a roller-coaster of a fantasy ride in his critically acclaimed book, “The Magicians.” Fillory was an illuminated place of lust, desire, magic, and adventure — the setting for an R-rated “Harry Potter,” a more graphic “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and the beginning of an epic tale not unlike the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

On August 9, Grossman is bringing readers back.

The Magician King" once again stars Quentin Coldwater and his mischievous cohorts in a journey that involves a “magical sailing ship, a fortune-telling dragon, [and] even a talking sloth named Abigail.” Already on Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month" list, Grossman’s latest is being hailed as a “triumph of (and an homage to) modern fantasy writing.” Kirkus Reviews adds that “The Magician King” is “spiked with bitter adult wisdom” and is “not to be missed.” Readers can preview an excerpt here.

Let the next adventure begin.

"The Magician King" will be available August 9 from Viking Adult. For more, explore the Lev Grossman and Science Fiction channels on Trove.

Also out this week:

» “House of Holes: A Book of Raunch" is bound to incite "fistfights in the hallways of your local public library." A laugh-out-loud "sex-positive escapade,” author Nicholas Baker aims to “surprise, amuse, and arouse" in his latest work of comedic fiction. Available August 9.

» If the hardcover edition of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" was too intimidating to pick up, the paperback version may be slightly more digestible. Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Mukherjee’s sweeping history of cancer is a “magnificent, profoundly humane" story. Available in paperback August 9.

Image courtesy of Penguin Group.

TV: ‘Falling Skies’ Invades This Weekend

What happens when you combine aliens, teenagers with machine guns, and Steven Spielberg? This Sunday at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central), viewers of “Falling Skies” are about to find out.

The eight-part TNT drama takes place in New England, six months after an alien invasion leaves most of the planet decimated. A small group of survivors is forced to band together for survival — civilian militias battle deadly robots and six-legged creatures, forage for food, and try to navigate what’s left of the lives they once knew.

Variety’s Brian Lowry describes the series’ premise as “mixing a strain of Tea Party nostalgia with a whole library of alien-invasion fiction.” In terms of predecessors, he explains, it lacks the subtlety of “Battlestar Galactica,” hewing “closer to ‘Independence Day,’ with a touch of ‘Red Dawn.’”

There are quite a few promising signs that “Falling Skies” will appeal to a broad audience — the executive producer is Steven Spielberg, who the New York Times’ Kristina Onstad calls “the strongest extraterrestrial brand in the world,” and the show’s format follows the “slow-reveal, mystery-upon-mystery template” perfected in “Lost” that keeps viewers guessing.

But will there be enough surprises from a post-apocalyptic, alien-invasion storyline to sustain the series? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

Also premiering soon:

» The hour-long, weeknight news and political commentary program “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” relaunches on Monday, June 20, on Current TV.

» “The Hot Zone,” “a fictional medical procedural set in 2006 at the only military hospital providing advanced surgical care in all of Southern Afghanistan,” debuts Tuesday, June 21, on ABC.

For more, check out Trove’s Falling Skies, Sci-Fi TV Shows, and Television channels. Image from ABC.