Posts Tagged ‘The Golem’s Eye’

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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TheGolemsEye_B2To my pleasure, I have finally been able to read the next book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. Sequels are often a disappointment, but The Golem’s Eye succeeds where others have failed.

In the last book, twelve-year-old Nathanial was forced from his parents and raised by a low-class wizard named Arthur Underwood, who treated the boy with distain. After secretly growing in knowledge—so not to be chastised by his master—Nathanial was one day treated poorly by one of the man’s guests, Simon Lovelace. With the help of a djinni named Bartimaeus, Nathanial finds out that Lovelace is up to more than the boy bargained for.

Story overview:

Two years after the defeat of Lovelace, Nathanial finds himself in a prominent position at Internal Affairs. When put in charge of tracking down the Resistance, he finds himself in a bind. Not only is he unable to discover who they are, but a new mystery appears and he is stuck trying to solve it.

After many attempts to summon efficient djinni, he turns to Bartimaeus as a last resort. Since this particular djinni knows his true name, it comes as a great risk to Nathanial, however, they agree to work together for a specific amount of time (with Bartimaeus prepared to divulge the boy’s true name soon afterwards.)

Discovering that the second threat is a Golem controlled by an unknown wizard, Nathanial finds himself in a tough position. Not only does the community of wizards not believe him, but he ends up trying to prevent himself from becoming their scapegoat. Unfortunately for him, it gets worse before it gets better and Nathanial does all he can do to keep his head above water (literally.) Kitty—the last living member of the Resistance—ends up crossing paths with Nathanial and the unexpected results surprise them both.

My thoughts:

I love the twist of making wizards in general the bad guys. Something not often tackled in fantasy. Kitty seems to have taken the place of Nathanial at “good guy,” as Nathanial has gone down the corrupt and self-seeking path of wizardry. I have yet to read the third book (is there hope for Nathanial yet?) but so far, I would say this is my favorite trilogy of the year. Wonderfully creative and absolutely humorous, I caught myself laughing out loud as I did in the first book. It did seem to me as if the beginning of the book was a little slower than the first one; there is more back-story, but if you keep with it you will see how necessary it is, after all, a minor character from the first book has become a huge part of the second. Kitty even has her own point-of-view along with Nathanial and Bartimaeus. Great character interactions and storytelling. A+, five stars, I cannot say enough.

Things to consider:

Overall, a really clean story. No foul language other than the occasional mention of a character cursing, no sexual situations or inappropriate references, and nothing that a sound believer would/should consider compromising. As I mentioned in the last book, the references towards demons is purely represented as a human misconception in the story. They are a type of fantasy spirit mentioned in old tales such as Aladdin’s lamp. There are some deaths and situations of violence that may be considered a little frightful for younger children, but overall I’d say preteen (tween) plus, the plus being adults too. Good for girls and boys, this one being a little more girl friendly than the last.

Opportunities for discussion:

I believe freewill is one of the more dominant topics in this tale. Bartimaeus often finds himself being reminded of his lack of freewill and the human’s power of slavery over him. This makes it worse when he thinks of humans and the fact that they do have freewill. This is a great Biblical topic with much opportunity for discussion. I suggest starting by asking your children what they think freewill is, and then ending it with your ideas on the matter.

Past reviews in this series:

1) The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)

One final note:

I wonder if there is a chance that Kitty is Nathanial’s sister. We never hear his “true” last name, and I have a suspicion that she may be from the family who gave him up. Perhaps a long shot, but that’s my writer’s brain in action.