It's better than The Magicians, but still disappointing. The high point is Julia's back story; the rest doesn't hang together very well. Grossman seems to have decided that he's writing amusing fantasy rather than a parody of fantasy, which at least clarifies his genre. There is nominally more sense of Quentin, though there is still much more telling than showing. I can live with this, but what I can't live with is the arbitrariness of the action. Characters appear and disappear with little coment. Perhaps some will return in a third book, but wouldn't their absence be commented on more by the main characters? Janet is nothing, absent from most of the narrative; I don't think it spoils the story overmuch to say that Jollyby is killed very early, but his death is never explained; Penny is now, for unknown reasons, sort of an okay guy. The action of the novel recalls Angelica Button and The Dragon King’s Trundle Bed from The Simpsons (season 18, episode 8), from magic of the quality of Headmaster Greystach's "Moustache powers! Activate!" and story progressing startlingly similar to Angelica's exposition, "I somehow escaped from the hourglass!" And the climax: Really? All those Maxwell's demon-type gods are going to be thwarted by turning some keys in locks? How? And why do the keys also unlock keyholes in the air? And why is everyone hurtling around between worlds? And how are the two gods encountered (rapey fox and succor-mamma) related to the cosmic electron-plumbers looking for who tapped the cosmic magic sump? Oh--and ending courtesy of The Truman Show,, more or less.