"Ptolemy's Gate", the final novel of The Bartimaeus Trilogy - introduced in "The Amulet of Samarkand" and continued with "The Golem's Eye" - completes the tale of John Mandrake, the magician and now Information Minister in the corrupt government of a downtrodden, dystopian England. The dominant theme of "The Golem's Eye" - the corrupting influences of power, ambition and greed - left the reader mourning a flawed Mandrake's fall from grace and wondering whether he could find the moral strength and intestinal fortitude to re-assert himself as the fine young man left far behind in "The Amulet of Samarkand". His one-time resistance foe, Kitty Jones, narrowly escaped from her encounter with the Golem three years earlier, has slipped under the radar entirely and is quietly learning the craft of magic herself. Bartimaeus, the witty motor-mouth djinni, is feeling weak, wan, sickly and near death as his essence or spirit has badly deteriorated as a result of his almost non-stop presence in the human's world subservient to his summoner, John Mandrake.
If "The Amulet of Samarkand" was a light-hearted, childlike (and definitely hilarious) romp through Mandrake's early education as a young magician and if "The Golem's Eye" was a richer, more gothic telling of Mandrake's succumbing to the siren calls of power, corruption and wealth as a member of England's ruling government, then "Ptolemy's Gate" is certainly the darkest of the three novels. Mandrake, Kitty and Bartimaeus, each with their own ambitions and motives, are all on a desperate life-or-death hunt for the perpetrators of a coup that threatens to topple the government and throw their world into a dark demon-ruled chaos.
In "Ptolemy's Gate", Stroud has treated us to a much more sophisticated, adult examination of motives such as cruelty and selfishness along with their mirror images, kindness and altruistic selflessness. The ending feels good, warm, cozy and satisfying in a way that is not entirely unexpected for a young adult novel but Stroud has also added the much more adult elements of sadness, death and loss.
Despite this darker approach to the story than its predecessor, readers need not worry that Stroud has lost his flair for comedy. Footnotes, while not quite as plentiful as in the first two novels, are still a veritable fountain of wit. They also introduce the character of Ptolemy and take us 5000 years into the past to build the character of Bartimaeus and provide the readers with an understanding of what it means to be a djinni painfully subservient to the beck and call of a summoning magician.
A highly recommended addition to the bookshelves of fantasy lovers and young adult readers.
Excellent fantasy for adult and young readers alike, PTOLEMY'S GATE completes the tale of John Mandrake, the magician and now Information Minister in the corrupt government of a downtrodden, dystopian England.
"Ptolemy's Gate" is the least favorite of my books in this trilogy. Poor Bartimaeus has been on Earth so long, he is almost too pooped to pun. Kitty has been leading a quiet, anonymous life in London's seedier districts, ever since the Resistance was destroyed by a nasty afrit in Gladstone's tomb. She lives in hope of contacting the djinn, Bartimaeus in spite of the fact that she is a commoner and not a magician. Meanwhile, in spite of his youth, Nathaniel is climbing higher … more