Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Golem's Eye

The Golem's Eye
by Jonathan Stroud, 2004

When Nathaniel dismissed the djinni, Bartimaeus at the end of The Amulet of Samarkand his future looked bright. At the beginning of this sequel, Nathaniel is on the fast track to success in government as a wizard although he is still just a youth. He is trying to unravel the secrets of the Resistance that is causing problems throughout London. A new series of very powerful attacks around the city have the governing class on edge and Nathaniel is under great pressure to discover who is really behind the trouble. He summons Bartimaeus to help him uncover the Resistance's secrets. He suspects the mysterious street kids he encountered in the first book are involved.

The story shifts and we see this London through the eyes of Kitty, one of the kids Nathaniel is looking for. Her eyes see a world where magicians have all the power and commoners like her and her family and friends are treated like second class citizens. A cruel attack bya magician on a friend sends Kitty out in search of revenge. As part of the Resistance she organizes raids to steal magical objects. Strangely, she is not affected by magic.

While attempting to retrieve some artifacts from Gladstone's tomb, Kitty's group is betrayed and her Resistance cell is destroyed.

Throughout the story we hear Bartimaeus's narrative of events. His observations are delivered with his customary humor though it is tinged with the suffering of a slave. He is the one who discovers the true nature of the threat facing this world.

The reader is routing for Kitty and hoping Nathaniel will see the light and turn his back on the corrupt government. We are also cheering for Bartimaeus and hoping for his freedom.

Stroud has created a world that is rich in atmosphere and fully realized. This is one of the most entertaining books I read this summer-- a thoroughly original series.

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