Friday, August 06, 2010

Book Review: Ptolemy's Gate

This third and last part of the trilogy may well be called the best of the three. As is usually the case with a trilogy or a saga, the last book has a big responsibility: to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. When it tries to forcefully tie up the ends, the reader can see it and this makes the read a laborious one.

However, Ptolemy's Gate is very much in keeping with the first two books: witty and clever. Jonathan Stroud is a brilliant writer. After seeing what he's capable of here, I will try and read all his books.

The story moves along at a good pace, though the bits about the war and the commoners' agitations did slow things a little.

Bartimaeus's essence has dwindled to almost nothing, and he needs, desperately, to return to the Other Place, if nothing, to at least recharge. He has been continuously bound for the last three years (since The Golem's Eye) to Mr Mandrake, now Information Minister, who has used the djinn along with several other spirits to run errands and take care of business as usual for the government. Mandrake is still only 17 years old, and his mental sharpness (I can almost hear Bartimaeus guffaw here) deserts him when he has to work with the attractive but cruel Jane Farrar of the police, and later with someone else we know.

It is delightful to read about Ptolemy in ancient Alexandria and his bond with Bartimaeus, the reason why the djinn takes on the boy's form so often. Stroud's descriptions are minimal but those few carefully chosen details paint a vivid picture of another time and place.

This trilogy is a must read for fantasy fans (young and old). The wit alone makes the books worthwhile but the intelligent writing and plot make them thoroughly admirable and worth owning.

3 comments:

A Ramble in Aphasia said...

HI Hash, I’ve read the first book Amulet of Samarkand long back but though I enjoyed it I somehow did not feel moved to buy the rest of the series. After reading your review I think I should take a stab at it now. Maybe I’ll check it out at the library.

Hasmita said...

Cool! Maybe you'd like to browse through Amulet and then move to the next one--not a must, though.

Damyanti said...

Hadn't heard of this writer before, thanks for the review.