The Magician King

Free The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Book: The Magician King by Lev Grossman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lev Grossman
places, rather than actual places, were obviously where young master Benedict preferred to live. “The linework is . . .” He made a noise through his teeth: ch. “Jesus Christ.”
    “Jesus Christ” was an expression the younger Fillorians had picked up from their new rulers. It was impossible to explain to them what it actually meant. They were convinced it was something dirty.
    “In the name of the Kingdom of Fillory,” Quentin intoned, “I hereby pronounce you rated for fieldwork. Good enough?”
    Should’ve brought my sword. Benedict shrugged, embarrassed. It was exactly what Quentin would have done ten years ago. Quentin almost found himself liking the kid. He probably thought nobody could possibly understand how he felt. It made Quentin realize how far he’d come. Maybe he could help Benedict.
    “Think about it. We should bring somebody to update the maps.”
    Though the draftsmanship looked fine to Quentin. Idly he turned the crank of the brass map-viewing contraption. It really was very neat: little half-concealed gears spun, and the Outer Island drifted away and was rolled up on the far side of the scroll. He kept cranking. Yards and yards of creamy blank paper passed by, decorated here and there with dotted lines and tiny numbers. Empty ocean.
    Finally the scroll ran out, and the loose end popped out and flapped around.
    “Not much out there,” he said, since he felt like he should say something.
    “It’s the last scroll in the catalog,” Benedict said. “No one’s even looked at it since I’ve been here.”
    “Can I take it with me?”
    Benedict hesitated.
    “It’s okay. I am the king, you know. It’s my map anyway, if you want to be technical about it.”
    “I still have to sign it out.”
    Benedict carefully rolled up the scroll and placed it in a leather case, then gave him a slip of paper that allowed him to take it out of the map room. He had cosigned it: his full name was Benedict Fenwick.
    Benedict Fenwick. Jesus Christ. No wonder he was sulky.

    Quentin had an obsolete sailing ship that had been raised from the dead. He had a psychotically effective swordsman and an enigmatic witch-queen. It wasn’t the Fellowship of the Ring, but then again he wasn’t trying to save the world from Sauron, he was attempting to perform a tax audit on a bunch of hick islanders. It would definitely do. They left Castle Whitespire three weeks to the day after Jollyby died.
    A stiff salt breeze was scouring the waterfront. The Muntjac ’s sails looked ready to lap it up and race off over the horizon in search of more. They were a glorious white with the very pale blue ram of Fillory splashed across them like a watermark, their edges snapping and vibrating with barely contained excitement. It really was a marvelous beast.
    A brass band played on the waterfront. The conductor was visibly urging his charges to greater and greater volumes, but the notes were whipped away by the wind the second they left the instruments. With half an hour to spare Benedict Fenwick had turned up with the clothes on his back and an overnight bag stuffed full of clinking mapmaking equipment. The captain—once again, the unflappable Admiral Lacker—assigned him the last available quarters.
    Eliot walked out onto the dock with Quentin to see him off.
    “So,” he said.
    “So.”
    They stood together at the foot of the gangplank.
    “You’re really doing this.”
    “Did you think I was bluffing?”
    “A little bit, yes,” Eliot said. “Say good-bye to Julia for me. Don’t forget what I told you about her.”
    Julia had already stowed herself in her cabin with the air of someone who wasn’t planning to reemerge till they’d made landfall.
    “I will. You’ll be all right without us?”
    “Better off.”
    “If you figure out what happened to Jollyby,” Quentin said, “go ahead and kick the ass of whoever’s responsible. Don’t wait up for me.”
    “Thanks. For what it’s worth I don’t think it was the

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