Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sequel Shines As Bright As First in Stroud's Magical Trilogy

After reading and loving The Amulet of Samarkand, I worried that the second book in Jonathan Stroud's The Bartimaeus Trilogy might not live up to the first. I shouldn't have worried.

The Golem's Eye picks up two years and eight months after the first book left off. Our hero - er, young magician, Nathaniel - is now working for Internal Affairs, strutting around London enjoying his new-found importance. His cozy little world is shattered, however, when an unknown menace begins wreaking havoc in the city. The government assumes it's another hit from the Resistance, and assigns the problem to Nathaniel. Eager to solve the crimes (thus gaining the notoriety he craves), the young magician summons his most powerful servant, the colorful Bartimaeus. Predictably, the djinn is not happy to see his former master, especially since "The boy had changed somewhat since I'd last seen him, and not for the better ... he was harder, harsher, and altogether more brittle" (167). Still, he's bound to young Nathaniel, and must obey his orders. Thus, he finds himself in the destructive path of an ancient enemy, who appears to be controlled by a magician. In order to return to his own world, Bartimaeus must help Nathaniel find the Golem's master.

This old pairing might have gotten a little dull (even though I adore Bartimaeus as a narrator), but Stroud introduces an exciting new element in the form of Kitty Jones. The teenager belongs to a group of Resistance workers, all of whom possess some form of resilliency to magic. This ability puts her in the perfect position to undermine the magicians who rule London. However, the group's activities prove ineffective, causing Kitty increasing discontent. When an informant tells the group how to break into the treasure-filled tomb of a famous magician, she can hardly contain her excitement. The dangerous mission doesn't exactly go as planned, and Kitty soon finds herself hunted by the government and one John Mandrake (a.k.a. Nathaniel).

Kitty proves slippery, but when Nathaniel dangles a friend's life in her face, she has no choice but to cooperate. Before the magician has a chance to extract information from Kitty, the two - along with Bartimaeus and Kitty's friend - find themselves face-to-face with not one, but two monstrosities from the Other World. Can the group save London from its twin terrors? Can they escape with their own lives? And, perhaps most importantly, will Nathaniel survive when everyone who knows him wants him dead?

I thoroughly enjoyed this second installment in Stroud's trilogy. Bartimaeus shone as usual, but he definitely had to share his spotlight with the brave Kitty Jones. She's as compelling as Bartimaeus, although her voice is more somber. Still, it's hard not to feel for her as she courageously takes on the magicians who routinely trample commoners like her under their shiny boots. I enjoyed these two characters immensely, but I really couldn't stand Nathaniel. He's an arrogant brat whose morals take a backseat to his ambition. Honestly, I found him almost insufferable in this book. Hopefully, he'll prove himself in the next volume.

For anyone who loves tales of magic and mystery, this trilogy is not to be missed.

Grade: A-

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll have to look into the series! It's always exciting when the middle book in a trilogy holds up. :)

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