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In a golem's eye,
This review is from: The Golem's Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy) (Paperback)
The sharp-tongued djinn of "Amulet of Samarkand" returns in the second book of Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy. It's a solid fantasy romp with some sharp social commentary and chilling wizardry, but it suffers from somewhat less of the delightfully observant Bartimaeus.
It's been two years since budding magician Nathaniel summoned the djinn Bartimaeus, and the two ended up enmeshed in a bizarre conspiracy. Now Nathaniel is working his way up in the world of politics and magic, with the sardonic Bartimaeus as his servant. But then the two end up in another hair-raising adventure -- a golem is attacking people in London, and Nathaniel is trying to find out who sent it, and why.
Meanwhile, the resistance against the magicians is growing, and the golem is supposedly an instrument against the magicians. But that isn't quite the case. Instead, a fiery young resistance member, Kitty, is doing some plotting of a very different sort -- and her plans will bring her neck-to-neck with Nathaniel and Bartimaeus.
Stroud takes readers to a parallel world where England is ruled not by bluebloods, but by wizards. It's not a new idea, but he gives it a new spin by wrapping it in political power as well as magic. If the backstabbing mage's world of the first book wasn't chilling enough, Stroud presents the eerie Night Police in this one.
Stroud's writing is solid and detailed, with plenty of gloomy atmosphere and the occasional hair-raising episode. Perhaps the biggest flaw of this book is that the action more often than not focuses on Nathaniel rather than the cynically lovable Bartimaeus. However, it's to Stroud's credit that he can make the intricate political plotting so interesting, while mixing in some grimly funny magic as well.
Nathaniel is still a flawed anti-hero, like Harry Potter's more ambitious cousin. While he's a passable lead character, the one who really steals all the scenes is Bartimaeus. He doesn't appear nearly enough, but his acerbic observations tend to be right on the money. And Kitty is a more likable person than Nathaniel, with a bit more fire in her personality.
The sequel to "Amulet of Samarkand" suffers from a lack of djinn, but Jonathan Stroud manages to keep it going at a steady pace. "The Golem's Eye" is a creepy fantasy read, for anyone seeking something a bit darker and deeper than Harry Potter.