At only fourteen, Nathaniel is a rising star: a young magician who is quickly climbing the ranks of the government. There is seemingly nothing he cannot handle, until he is asked to deal with the growing Resistance movement, which is disrupting London life with its thefts and raids. It’s no easy task: the ringleader Kitty and her friends remain elusive, and Nathaniel’s job-and perhaps his life-are soon at risk. As the pressure mounts, he is distracted by a new series of terrifying attacks in the capital. But is it the Resistance again, or something more dangerous still? To uncover the perpetrators, Nathanial must take desperate measures: a journey to the enemy city of Prague and-worse-summoning once again the troublesome, enigmatic, and quick – witted djinni Bartimaeus.
A thrilling sequel to the best-selling Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye is a roller-coaster ride of magic, adventure, and political skullduggery, in which the fates of Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, and Kitty explosively collide.
Even better than the excellent first book The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye is much more complex, action-packed and detailed. While the first book set the stage, introducing the world and characters, The Golem’s Eye builds on those concepts and picks up on threads hinted at in book one.
What I perhaps like best about the Bartimaeus trilogy that the most is made of the highly intricate world in which the story is set. Dichotomies exist between past and future and between magic and law, creating an interesting world filled with possibilities, and accordingly, meaning is packed into each and every page. The city of skyscrapers and cars is undeniably modern, much like our present day, while the magic of pentacles and scrolls is reminiscent of the past. In addition, the structure of society is set within the context of European imperialism, the same as in our past, the only difference being that London and its magicians are the seat of power. The similarities between their world and ours are such that when discussing problems within their world, they are at the same time, criticisms of our past and to an extent, the present day.
The Golem’s Eye is, in fact, not one story but four interconnected ones that work together to give a more complete story. There’s Nathaniel’s story which reveals the inner workings of government where he works to bring down the Resistance. Nathaniel is markedly less likeable than in the first book. Gone is the boy who cared about others, he has been replaced by the same type of pompous magician he used to despise. However, you come to understand how he got the way he is, and still root for him to succeed in his job and show up all those who continue to discredit him. Plus, his power with words is truly remarkable.
Bartimaeus is as funny as ever, and you begin to understand that perhaps his cowardice is in fact very necessary for survival in a world where he is treated as disposable. How the magicians treat these magical beings remains horrific – literally as slave labour. Kitty, the newest character, is brave, loyal and highly principled. Her story is split into two parts: the present which provides insight into the mysterious resistance and her past, which delves into the unfairness of living in a world ruled by magicians. These magicians are revealed as caring naught about the people they are supposed to be protecting, only about furthering their own influence and power. You learn that the ordinary people are living in poverty, and are subject to the whims of the magicians, while being fed continual doses of propaganda. It is thus unsurprising that people, like Kitty, are trying to rebel.
Yet, this book doesn’t directly take sides, and the morality of resistance is also considered – how much damage it is justifiable to cause in order to overthrow an unfair regime? At what point does one become just as bad as those in power when using their tools against them? Is violent opposition the best solution?
The plot, which contains all these above topics and more, is of course complex, twisty and thrilling. Extending from London to Prague, corrupt politicians and secret plots collide with magical entities. You’ll be left guessing who’s behind it all until the final pages, where the separate components of the story combine in a conclusion that neatly ties off the plot, but is just the right kind of unsatisfying that encourages you to immediately pick up book three.
Highly recommended to all fantasy lovers!