As a fan of the loveable roustabout demon Bartimaeus I was surprised to see that Jonathan Stroud had brought the franchise back after a five-year gap. The original trilogy was a great read (with the middle story a real weak link, I should add) with a rich, deep universe full of potential for further stories. Instead of building upon the world he already created, Stroud goes back in time thousands of years before Nathanial to the world of King Solomon.
Bartimaeus has been summoned by one of Solomon's evil magicians to labor on some tedious building site, though a chance encounter with a strange girl traveling across the desert on an assassination mission leads to a more exciting chain of events. Solomon is in possession of a powerful ring (a huge cliche in fantasy fiction by now) that can destroy the Earth if yielded by the wrong wearer. Bartimaeus and the girl plot to steal it, but there just might be a few surprise twists in store for them.
The Ring of Solomon is a fairly swift 405 pages. Some of the plot could have been tightened here and there, but it was in no way as overwritten as Golem's Eye (Bartimaeus Trilogy), so I should be thankful for that. The shifting narrative quickens the pace, and the amusing footnotes are just as witty as ever.
If Stroud continues this ancient history angle on the adventures of Bartimaeus I will surely purchase more of his books. Just give us something with a little more clout than a ring next time.
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