Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: The Bartimaues Trilogy

Just finished reading Ptolemy's Gate, the third installment in Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy. It was SO GOOD. Wow.

But I'm not being very coherent. Sorry about that.* I'll try and do better. Let's see.

The first book, The Amulet of Samarkand, introduces Bartimaeus, the fabulously snarky, famously famous, shape-shifting ancient dijinni of Incredible Power**, and Nathaniel, a twelve-year-old magician's apprentice who's out for a spot of revenge. Told in alternating chapters, the story traces their reluctant alliance*** against formidable foe Simon Lovelace, a powerful magician with some diabolical plans of his own.

The second book, The Golem's Eye, finds Nathaniel grafted into the British government****, with the much abused Bartimaeus back to try and salvage the mess he's making of his career.+ Enter a third viewpoint character, the fiercely idealistic Kitty Jones, who, along with a group of commoners called the Resistance, is fighting against the government.++ To make matters worse, a creature wreathed in shadow is wreaking havoc in central London, there's an insane skeleton on the loose+++, and the magicians have a traitor in their midst...

The third book, the aforementioned Ptolemy's Gate, finds Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, and Kitty forced into a tremulous alliance tied together with the shadows of Bartimaeus's past.++++

These books are fantastic. Lovely writing, compelling storyline, the characters evolve and grow... Just the right mixture of humor and pathos and history and detail. I'm excessively sad that they're over now^ :-(, but awesomely enough there's a fourth book coming next fall!^^


* It comes from being human, no doubt.

** And hilariously sarcastic footnotes. Like this one. Only funnier. And more sarcastic.

*** aka Forced servitude on the part of Bartimaeus. Darn magicians.

**** Which is made up entirely of conniving, power-hungry magicians.

+ The idiot couldn't do it on his own, of course.

++ sneaking around in the dark and pilfering magical items. It was the best they could come up with, being human and all.

+++ Don't ask.

++++ Hardly compelling, I know, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you.

^ Who wouldn't be??

^^ Readers rejoice!


silent_librarian said...

Awesome! I love this post! It is a very creative way in writing the review with the footnotes! Hehe! I read some of the first one before, and was excessively amused by the footnotes of the sarcastic Bartimus. (I love sarcastic characters.) Your review definitely makes me want to read the series! :D

Joanna R. Smith said...

Glad you like the review, Danielle! :-) And yep, you MUST read them. I'm itching to discuss their merits with somebody!!