Ptolemy’s Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3), by Jonathan Stroud

Posted: November 19, 2009 in Fantasy
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In my review of the second book, I said “Sequels are often a disappointment, but The Golem’s Eye succeeds where others have failed.”

That statement is even more fitting for this third and final installment. I will go so far as to say that this book is the best of all three.

So far in the series, twelve-year-old Nathanial went from being raised by a petty and unloving wizard to defeating another rogue wizard who used the Amulet of Samarkand. A few years after that, Nathanial went on to take position at Internal Affairs, uncover yet another plot that involved a Golem and Gladstone’s staff, and found himself being saved by one of the last two remaining survivors of the Resistance. All with the aid of a sarcastic djinni named Bartimaeus.

Story overview:

Nathanial is now seventeen-years-old and has grown into a young man. With this come increased responsibilities as he is now the Information Minister. As prestigious as that sounds it mainly entails putting together pamphlets and other forms of propaganda to entice civilians to join the wizard’s war against America (one that is going poorly). In doing so he becomes even more cold and indifferent, especially to Bartimaeus whose essence is nearly depleted from having to stay in the human world for so long.

It seems that something deep inside of Nathanial cannot let go of Bartimaeus, who is one of the few reminders of the days when Nathanial used to be a caring lad. It takes a visit to his old school teacher and a face-to-face encounter with the supposedly dead Kitty for him to see what he has become. About the time he realizes this, Nathanial finds himself facing the man behind all the previous plots from the first two books.

The plan is to let spirits take possession of each wizard’s body. This way the wizard would have limitless power. The mastermind failed to realize that this only allowed the spirit to take full control, and soon the land finds an army of angry beings wanting revenge for hundreds of years of enslavement. Nathanial acquires a good partner in Kitty as they both attempt to find a way to save the people: Nathanial to obtain Gladstone’s staff and the Amulet of Samarkand, and Kitty to use Ptolemy’s Gate to enter the other-place and gain Bartimaeus’s favor as an ally of freewill.

My thoughts:

This story is candy for readers. I absolutely loved this series and this volume had me glued to the pages, filled with excitement, and not disappointed with the results (though I could have used a happier ending). I’m glad that Nathanial found his redemption, and that both he and Kitty developed a close bond. My only complaint is that this series has come to an end; I have grown so fond of it that this idea is a little depressing, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Things to consider:

There are some disturbing elements, but nothing beyond what is appropriate for this tale. The closest “inappropriate” situation is when Kitty summons Bartimaeus, who chose the form of a scary demon without clothing. Actually, this is done quite humorously and it is a laugh to see Kitty’s response, but the scene does have potential to be a little questionable. That is, if the reader takes it beyond the lighthearted intentions. Also, parents need to be clear that the “spirit” element of this story is fictional; they need to inform their children about the differences between these fantastical elements verses real-world ones. I can see some Christians holding picket signs and yelling accusations against this, but that’s the point of this blog: to thwart this kind of ignorant behavior. I stick to my series rating, preteen (tween) and older. Not gender specific.

Opportunities for discussion:

A main topic in this story is the risk of one losing their morals to the pressures of fitting into the mold of society. A Christian message you might add? Indeed so. Ask your children if they have ever compromised their morals for the sake of fitting in, then ask them how that made them feel.

Past reviews in this series:

1) The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)
2) The Golem’s Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2)

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Comments
  1. […] 1) The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) 2) The Golem’s Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2) 3) Ptolemy’s Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3) […]

  2. […] (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) 2) The Golem’s Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2) 3) Ptolemy’s Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3) GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "0"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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