Thursday, April 20, 2006

Well I Liked It

A while back I read The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, book 1), by Jonathan Stroud, at Hadrian's enthusiastic suggestion. It was quite good. Not brilliant, but really enjoyable. So when he told me he was disappointed with the second one, I moved it to the bottom of my list. When I was preparing to drive down to Wichita for Tri-Conference a couple of weeks ago I wanted something to listen to. Lo and behold, one of the few selections on CD was The Golem's Eye. I started it on the way back and have been hooked ever since. I finally finished it today and have to say I liked it even better than the first.

We're not the only ones to give it mixed reviews. Check Amazon, for instance, and you'll see that it was a starred review in SLJ yet Jennifer Hubert, reviewing for Amazon, said:
Stroud’s second book is far too long and gloomy, focusing more on the priggish Nathaniel and wronged Kitty than the dijinni readers have come to adore. Fans of Jonathan Stroud’s breakout hit, The Amulet of Samarkand, may be a little disappointed to discover that Bartimaeus features so little his second book. While Stroud cleverly uses the class war between the ruling magicians and the disgruntled commoners as a metaphor for current political and social clashes, the text suffers overall from a lack of the dijinni’s famous facetious footnotes. Avid fans are left skimming the slow parts and hoping that when Bartimaeus escapes his servile bonds he will be given more space to make them laugh.
That's much the same thing Hadrian said about it. I, on the other hand, found it very engaging. While still enjoying the facetious Bartimaeus, I appreciated the fuller development of their world. Kitty provided an alternate viewpoint to the too often annoying Nathaniel, and the class warfare created a lot of depth. I'm very caught up in these characters now and their part to play in the greater story of Stroud's universe. I can't wait to see what happens to them in the third book. (But first, To Kill a Mockingbird.)


Hadrian said...

What can I say?- Ms. Hubert did pretty much sum up my feelings about The Golem's Eye. And while I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the first book, it was still good. (I get the feeling I was much more wowed by The Amulet of Samarkand than you were, though). The third book, however, is possibly the best in the series (though not perfect by any means) and the ending is positively mind blowing.

Leelu said...

I thought the ending was a little predictable, but then again, I'm weird that way. Bartimeus' history is what really fascinated me in Ptolemy's Gate.

I've got Lummox reading the second one, now. Maybe he'll weigh in with an opinion or two. ;)