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Friday, September 2

Not Gollum's Eye!

The Golem's Eye. Spelling is very important!

Jonathan Stroud creates such a vivid world, it is hard not to get caught up in the possibilities of a world of magicians and demons. A longer volume than the original, Golem’s Eye continues on nearly three years after the final events of The Amulet of Samarkand. Nathaniel is now fourteen and, due to his natural talent, has taken the position of assistant to the Internal Affairs Minister, Julius Tallow. Bartimaeus is quite happy recuperating in the ‘Other Plane’ from the ordeal Nathaniel put him though the last time he was summoned.

The most obvious change in Golem’s Eye is the addition of another main character. In Amulet Kitty was a confusing hindrance who stole Nathaniel’s scrying disk. Now, her story-line is intrinsically linked with that of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus. I found it jarring at first to have to have all of Kitty’s back-story dealt out when I really wanted to know what was happening with the others instead. It is a hard task to bring in a character that we know virtually nothing about and spend the time introducing her so by the end of the book we really care. It slows the plot right down, even if the back-story itself is interesting. Thankfully, once I was through the first third of the book events started to pick up and I began to enjoy her arc.

Nathaniel has started to show signs of becoming a stock-standard, self-involved magician. And when he finds it necessary to summon Bartimaeus again, the change is even more noticeable. No longer the innocent youth trying prove that he’s more than his master can imagine; he’s foppish and, although still showing huge potential, likely to be stifled by senior ministers who simply want to use him for their own advancement. Far less likeable than the first novel, I had little sympathy for most of what happened to Nathaniel.

Bartimaeus is the perfect counterpoint. Oozing wit and wry humour, the demon takes every opportunity to poke holes in Nathaniel’s plans or simply jab him about his choice of clothes. There is no doubt that we are meant to be on the demon’s side in this book, and as the one who is consistently entertaining and manages to evoke frequent laughs.

The use of footnotes for Bartimaeus to add many asides is far more refined now and every one is worth the extra trip to the bottom of the page for. My favourite would have to be “Tall and bone thin, her limbs were like long, dry sticks. I was surprised she didn’t catch fire when she crossed her legs.”

Golem’s Eye is clearly the middle book. Continuing the story with an intriguing series of events, paying off some things set up in the first volume, while clearly setting up many of the events to come in the next and final chapter of the trilogy. I already have my suspicions as to who is the overall mastermind. I eagerly await the third, but hopefully not final chapter, of The Bartimaeus Trilogy.

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