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The Golem's Eye

A book by Jonathan Stroud

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Nathaniel, Kitty and Bartimaeus duke it out!

  • Dec 17, 2010
Having successfully thwarted Simon Lovelace's ill-fated conspiracy in "The Amulet of Samarkand", Nathaniel is "adopted" by Jessica Whitwell, Security Minister in Britain's dark and oppressive government by magic and begins life anew in "The Golem's Eye". Recognized as an up and coming hotshot young magician, Nathaniel (known only as John Mandrake to his colleagues) is appointed the youngest ever Assistant to the Head of Internal Affairs and charged with the elimination of the bothersome Resistance. Nathaniel, initially cocky and confident that he can rid the government of this pesky Resistance problem in short order discovers he is up against sterner stuff than he had anticipated.

Deadly sharks, senior ministers in the government intensely angry and jealous of Nathaniel's rising star, circle quickly and close in for the kill as Nathaniel runs into roadblocks and fails to shut down the Resistance as ordered. Kitty and her fellow Resistance members seem uncannily able to thwart Nathaniel's best efforts at every turn. Nathaniel's future and, indeed, his very life seem in jeopardy when a Golem runs on a destructive rampage through London. Everyone except Nathaniel is convinced that the Resistance is behind the unleashing of the Golem and blame quickly falls on Nathaniel for the continuing mayhem.

The fast-paced narrative shifts point of view with every chapter, rotating from Nathaniel through Kitty, the young fiery heroine who lives life on the run with her fellow Resistance members, and Bartimaeus, the acerbic, witty djinni who continues to regale us with his clever, barbed but dead on point observations. Even though Stroud has produced a plot that never flags and pulls us along at an almost breakneck pace, "The Golem's Eye" is still a much darker, gloomier, minutely detailed and more atmospheric novel than its predecessor. The dominant theme is very clearly the corrupting influences of power, ambition and greed and the reader is left mourning flawed Nathaniel's fall from grace wondering whether he can find the moral strength and intestinal fortitude to re-assert himself as the fine young man we left far behind in "The Amulet of Samarkand".

Despite this rather more gothic 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 novel, are still a veritable fountain of wit. One scene in particular in which Bartimaeus destroys an incredibly valuable artifact in the British Museum thinking it to be merely a sign with a set of written rules for the museum patrons is laugh out loud hilarious.

The resolution of the plot line revolving around Gladstone's magical staff and the rampaging Golem provide a perfect opportunity for Stroud to bring this particular novel to a close. But it is quite clear that Nathaniel, now reduced to the status of a failing anti-hero, and Kitty, the charming yet resolute young commoner and apparently sole survivor of her Resistance cell will butt heads once again with Bartimaeus who, for the moment, has been dismissed to his spirit world.

"Ptolemy's Gate" awaits although I'm not sure I can!

Paul Weiss

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December 18, 2010
I remember this book in the trilogy as the point where I became deeply worried about Nathaniel--so much corruption for one young man! Great review really touches on all the high notes from a wonderful book :)
December 18, 2010
Thanks for the kind words, missprint.
More The Golem's Eye reviews
review by . December 18, 2005
The demon--excuse me--djinn, Bartimaeus once again steals the show in this second book of Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy. My favorite scene is in the British Museum where a mysterious monster is smashing his way through the ancient Egyptian antiquities and Bartimaeus clobbers it over the head with the Rosetta Stone.    This is one of the sharpest new fantasy trilogies that I've read since Cecilia Dart-Thornton's 'Ill-made Mute' series, and it seems to get better as it speeds …
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Paul Weiss ()
Ranked #7
   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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Due to the success of his first campaign involving theAmulet of Samarkand, Nathaniel, now fourteen, has been appointed the youngest representative ever to the Office of Internal Affairs, and has been devising traps to capture members of the Resistance--a secretive group of commoners who are determined to undermine the ruling class of magicians. When a magic-sapping Golem’s surprise first attack is labeled an act of Resistance terrorism, Nathaniel reluctantly summons Bartimaeus for help. Meanwhile, a zealous young member of the Resistance, Kitty Jones, is planning to rob the sacred tomb of the great magician Gladstone, and turn the power of his buried magical instruments against the spell makers. The towering clay Golem and its shadowy master unites the destinies of Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, and Kitty together in one fateful night--unfortunately, that night is much too slow in coming. 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 ...
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ISBN-10: 0786818603
ISBN-13: 978-0786818600
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

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