Monday, December 18, 2006

The Bartimaeus Trilogy Review

Potential Spoiler Warning: this article may spoil some of your fun in reading the novels.


The Bartimaeus Trilogy is a fantasy novel series by Jonathan Stroud. It consists of the following books (in order) The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golems Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate. The most notable things about the books are the fast and thrilling narrative and very good humor.


Like I said, the narrative was fast and thrilling. The pace never slackens (perhaps a little bit in the second novel) and the best part is, it is absolutely hilarious in parts. I wish more of the narrative was from Bartimaeus whose witty repartee is well worth reading about a thousand and five hundred pages of this series. The best part is, the author ended it in three parts rather than dragging on unnecessarily. It is the most fitting length for this trilogy.


The characterization is excellent. All the major characters have been drawn out in sufficient detail. Nathaniel aka Magician John Mandrake comes out very well as a talented un-spoilt youth who gradually becomes just like everyone else. He does, however, always keep alive that small spark of goodness within him which kindles into a fire at the climax of the story. Kitty Jones again has been portrayed very well as a commoner who is seeking to do something about the corrupt system. Her rebellious tendencies do not prevent her from seeing the truth as she always doubts the motives of his fellow revolutionaries who appear to be happy in just spreading vandalism. And yes, there is our dear Bartimaeus. Well, you got to read the novel to know what he’s like. Words just don’t do justice to this most delightful character Stroud has created.


The series is full of alternate meanings. It is a very good allegory on how political power functions in human societies. The magicians are the powerful people in the society. The commoners are, well, commoners. The people who have power make all effort to prevent others from getting it. For example, the magicians make magic the exclusive craft of their own kind, while it is clear that commoners can learn it without trouble, as Kitty Jones proves in the end.

It is also an excellent portrayal of the Master-Slave relationship. Perhaps even a comment on the colonial tendencies of Britain where the master makes almost no effort to understand the motivations of the slave. Indeed, such tendencies become so very ingrained in popular discourse that the people in power almost start believing what misconceptions are popular about the slaves.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, Bartimaeus Trilogy is very very wonderful, in my opinion. And the ending is one of the best I've ever read.