Have you ever found that you love the sequel of a book more than the first, or around as much? Bartimaeus (Book Two): The Golem’s Eye, by Jonathan Stroud, is one of those books. It is truly an epic, epic writing, epic length (I’m serious, there’s probably over 200,000 words in it, which makes it an epic. Like how novels are 17,500 to 60,000 words long), and epic characters. Bartimaeus however, remains my favorite character. Ptolemy is my other favorite, but whatever. I am not saying anything relevant to the story yet! Let me remedy this. It starts with darkness… or semi-darkness at best. We are at Prague, when the British are about to conquer it, with old Gladstone’s help of course. Who is at Prague? That admirable djinni, the hero of our stories, the wonderful djinni who…. well you must know of all his wonderful exploits by now, if you’ve read the first book. He is the fantastic Bartimaeus (a.k.a. N’gorso, a.k.a. Necho, a.k.a. (my second favorite one) Rekhyt), and he is of course, very bored. He goes and checks on some sentry imps who happen to be complaining about him, so he cracks their heads together and tries to give them a pep talk (regrettably, this is one of the very few things Bartimaeus isn’t good at, have you noticed yet that I really really like his character, and that I have no problem praising him? :P), around the end of it, the Brits start attacking.
After a bit, Bartimaeus is flung into a cart full of hay, and meets one of his compatriots, a djinni named Queezle, Queezle is a very nice character, a mere 1,500 years old, which means she’s young. Anyway, they discuss some spells in the walls, which crumbled under some sort of attack (the spells were Bartimaeus’s, Queezle said it was shoddy workmanship, and wondered what djinn had worked on the walls. “Can’t think,” was Bartimaeus’s quick reply). Anyway, they eventually seek out their master (ugh, a fairly odious specimen he is too) to see what they should do. Of course, their master has to be an absolutely loyal twit, so instead of fleeing, he orders them to protect the emperor, who is busy asking for his faithful afrit (which died earlier on) and a few other afrits to lift his precious aviary to safety. Sheesh… he’s been told multiple times that his afrit is dead, and he still doesn’t believe them. He gives off a lot of noise with his complaints, luckily though… when they got attacked by an afrit, their master held onto a magical weapon a couple of seconds too long and blew himself out of existence, releasing Queezle, Bartimaeus, and any other Other Place entities unfortunate enough to be in his service.
Anyway, we go to modern day London (where the great unwashed dwell, a.k.a. humans. XD That was his description of them in the first book) to visit Nathaniel, who’s getting on well. He is in charge of rooting out the Resistence. So far he’s had absolutely no luck of course. After a couple of encounters, he finds himself having to call Bartimaeus. Neither of them are very pleased to see each other. Bartimaeus comes very close to ratting Nathaniel out because he is so furious. They had “made a deal”, Bartimaeus wouldn’t reveal his birth name and Nathaniel wouldn’t summon him again. After Nathaniel finally managed to get Bartimaeus to listen to him, he enlisted his help, which, unfortunately for Nat, luckily for us readers, meant that he’d get the insolence that Bartimaeus usually exibits.
So things go on, Bartimaeus carries out Nathaniel’s orders like in the first book, they eventually find out that a mysterious force that destroyed Sholto Pinn’s shop is actually a golem (this knowledge was gained through Bartimaeus nearly losing his life, and he didn’t even get a thank you! How rude), something from Prague, the last few walked when Gladstone attacked it, in the time Bartimaeus was there. But meanwhile, there is a third player in this story. Kitty Jones, the girl who stole the scrying disc from Nathaniel in the first book, the girl who led Stanley, Fred, and possibly Nick or Martin to waylay Bartimaeus and try to steal the Amulet of Samarkand. When she first appears, it is the night before Mr. Pinn’s shop gets savaged. She is at a theatre with Fred and Stanley, waiting for the play to end so they can go accomplish their mission.
They break into a store, steal a few magical items, and then against Kitty’s orders, Stanley chucks a magical weapon back which blows up quite a bit of the things in the shop. Kitty is upset by this because they are harming Commoners, Stanley insists they are Collaborators, people who cozy up to the magicians and do whatever they want. Kitty has a natural resilience to magic, Stanley can see the auras of magical objects, Fred and Anne (another Resistence member) can see the true forms of “demons” (a.k.a. noble entitites from the other place, such as Bartimaeus). Tim could “hear” magical objects, but at one point when they had to scatter to escape the Night Police, he went one way and was never seen again. Nick has Stanley’s talent, and so on and so forth, Mr. Pennyfeather, their leader, shares Kitty’s talent, and is perhaps stronger, he once withstood the attacks of three afrits after all (pretty darned impressive).
Meanwhile, John Mandrake (a.k.a. our “lovable” Nathaniel) has been told by his master Jessica Whitwell (a thoroughly dispicable woman who trapped Bartimaeus in a Mournful Orb in the first book, the nerve!) that he is to go to Prague to see if the parchment that animates a golem still exists (Tallow thinks this is completely impossible). So Bartimaeus is dismissed until he reaches Prague, where he is summoned again. Of course, Nathaniel is never happy without something to complain about is he? But in this case it’s kinda justified, a rather creepy bathroom, a bed with bedbugs in it, dusty curtains, cobweby floors…. and in in his infinite wisdom, Bartimaeus told Nathaniel that he only had that room because he was British. Nathaniel said that because he was British, he should have the best room, meaning that, sadly, Bartimaeus’s wisdom was wasted on him.
That evening Nathaniel put on a floppy hat with a blood red feather (which, according to Bartimaeus, looked brick red. He was right again of course, but Nathaniel wouldn’t listen would he?) and they went to the cemetary. Predictably, Nathaniel complained about how it was unhygienic to have the cemetaries inside the city. Talk about picky! As they meet Harlequin in the cemetary, Kitty is getting ready to go with the Resistence to desecrate Gladstone’s tomb, which is seemingly protected only by a Pestilence. They get by that with help from an unknown benefactor that Mr. Hopkins puts them into contact with. All goes well… until Kitty discovers a hidden part of the room as Mr. Pennyfeather, Nick, Stanley, and Fred get the lid of the sarcophogus off. The hidden part of the room contains six skeletons. Why they are hidden so neatly, and why they had to be hidden, is a mystery… until they find out that Gladstone left one more thing to stop intruders. A level nine afrit called Honorious, who is bound to his bones.
While they discover this… fascinating fact (Honorious can kill them after all, it’s in his orders), Bartimaeus and Nathaniel are meeting Harlequin for the first time. The poor man gets killed, but Nathaniel and Bartimaeus (may he live forever, ^_^) have narrowly escaped the police of Prague. They know the address of someone who might be making golem parchments though. And so they set out to investigate.
Before I reveal any more of the story, I shall stop myself, because even though I give you all these details, you miss Bartimaes’s vastly amusing quotes, Nathaniel’s occasional moments of embarrassment (which are funny), and Kitty doing something very amusing, which involves humiliating Nathaniel. Go Kitty! ^_^ “Ptolemy’s Gate” should have it’s review here soon, seeing as I’m already reading it. I’m up to page 99 already. ^_^