The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud (2010)

July 5, 2011 at 6:48 pm (fantasy, historical fantasy, teen)

I enjoyed Stroud’s “Bartimaeus” trilogy, and this prequel to the series does not disappoint.

Bartimaeus is what humans call a demon – a spirit dragged from its native dimension by a magician, and enslaved.  These spirits don’t like this – not being enslaved, and not being in our physically painful dimension.  They are not nice creatures, but one thing that the books make clear is that it’s entirely possible that this is far more the fault of the magicians (who are not nice creatures either) than the innate nature of these beings. After thousands of years of interaction between the two, though, it’s hard to be sure.

At any rate, the original series was set in nineteenth-century London, and revolved around Bartimaeus’ enslavement by a young magician of that era.   The new book explores a period when he was enslaved back in the age of King Solomon.  Stroud improvises freely on Biblical sources here, to interesting effect.

The thing about these stories is that they’re written primarily from Bartimaeus’ point of view, and that’s what makes them.  Because Bartimaeus is obnoxious – clever, perceptive, and nearly incapable of keeping his mouth shut when the potential for a wise remark passes by.  And he’s also, despite everything, capable of appreciating the physical world and, on occasion, of not holding his repeated predicament against it and every person in it.  Or maybe it’s just that he dislikes some individuals more than others.

I think you really have to read the book to understand, actually.  It’s definitely worth your time.

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1 Comment

  1. Charlotte said,

    I am very fond of this one! I love Bartimaeus’ voice.

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