Title: The Golem's Eye (Bartimaeus #2)
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Published: 2004 by Corgi Children
My Rating: 5/5
The Golem's Eye is the second book in the Bartimaeus series, after The Amulet of Samarkand. Nathaniel has now been in the government job for two years under the guidance of Jessica Whitwell, a high level minister in the Department of Internal Affairs. Nathaniel has become overly ambitious, and detests people in the government who seem to jeer at him for his young age and lack of experience. He hasn't seen Bartimaeus in two years, because of their previous pact to not come across each other again, but when he is assigned the arduous task of finding the mysterious, terribly destructive creature or group roaming around the streets of London, he feels no one but Bartimaeus would be up to the job.
Popular magical places have been destroyed around London, and the Night Police or any magical security could detect no trace of a djinn or any being of magic. The suspicion goes to The Resistance, a group of youngsters who go around stealing magical artifacts to annoy the magicians. Nathaniel, however, does not think teenagers could have managed destruction of such magnitude. There is something far more sinister, something the magicians have believed to be extinct.
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The London government is run by magicians, and the commoners are grateful to them for providing them security. Well, not everyone is grateful, however. Some 'commoners' have suffered at the hands of magicians, like everyone else, and resent their power to the extent of attempting to overthrow them. Kathleen (Kitty) Jones is a young teenager who appeared briefly in the first book and occupies a large part of The Golem's Eye. She is part of The Resistance, and is slightly disconcerted by the fact that the major attacks are being attributed to them. The Golem's Eye takes us into two parallel worlds - one of Nathaniel and the magicians, and the other of The Resistance and the commoners. The back-story of Kitty and the members of The Resistance comes up in this book, and makes the whole story very, very interesting.
Bartimaeus is, as usual, his witty, humourous self. It's hard not to smile at his dialogues or footnotes. It's even harder not to be inspired to adopt that kind of attitude in real life situations as well. Bartimaeus is one of my favourite magical characters in literature! As for Nathaniel, I did think he was being a prick in a lot of instances. What happened to his character? He seemed totally influenced by his hunger for power and recognition, and the barely-decent boy in him seemed to have vanished, as Bartimaeus rightly observed.
The other thing that made me give this book a five-star review is the manner of writing. It's engrossing, gripping, and in one of the crucial scenes, downright scary. In hindsight, it doesn't seem that horrifying, but it nevertheless made me gasp and shudder, and that's what matters. Who cares about reality anyway? I had been thinking that The Amulet of Samarkand would be superior to its sequel books, but Jonathan Stroud is excellent in all his books. I have to admit that the beginning of this book was a little confusing, and not entirely gripping, because of new information of the past in Prague and about Kitty Jones, and also the lack of Bartimaeus, but it soon picked up pace as the background was set in place, and from there on it was a non-stop reading gala.
I'd highly recommend this series to fans of fantasy and young adult fiction. If you're looking for a mix of old magic and modern taste, this is the book for you! If you've read The Amulet of Samarkand, you have to continue this series. Now I'll be waiting for my copy of Ptolemy's Gate to arrive, and devour it in one go. The quotable quotes from the book are mostly dialogues by Bartimaeus, such as:
“Hey, we've all got problems, chum. I'm overly talkative. You look like a field of buttercups in a suit.”
“I wanted to wake you straightaway, but I knew I had to wait several hours to ensure you were safely recovered."
"What! How long has it been?"
"Five minutes. I got bored.”