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Publishers Weekly Review
"The sharp-witted shape-shifting djinni returns in this second volume of the Bartimaeus Trilogy, this time dealing with a mysterious attacker that is terrorizing London," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7-9-In the second book (Hyperion, 2004) in Jonathan Stroud's fantasy trilogy, the viewpoints of the djinni Bartimaeus, his sometimes hapless magician owner Nathaniel, and teenaged "commoner" Kitty weave a plot with various counterplots along the themes of revenge, greed and, ultimately, growth. Nathaniel, at 14, is full of himself and tends toward the foppish in both the views of Bartimaeus and the reader/listener. Bartimaeus continues to seem to be both smug and smarter than Nathaniel. Kitty is the most sympathetic of the bunch, but she appears to have no problem with plotting government overthrow of a very messy sort. During the long trajectory of this book, a Czech golem (a clay giant animated by blood-written magic) lays waste to the British Museum and Kitty helps unleash more cultural destruction by unburying the supposed dead at Westminster. Simon Jones provides voices for each of these characters, as well as their assorted minions, who include Kitty's badly magic-wounded childhood friend Jacob, the elderly commoner Mr. Pennyfeather who recruits her into the magic resistance force, and Nathaniel's mentors, none of whom seem to have a really good side. While plotting and fantasy are both well-developed here, the audience will have trouble feeling completely sympathetic towards any one of these protagonists; rather than a flawed hero, what we have here is a small group of folks-magical and otherwise-who are more arrogant than they are vulnerable. Those unfamiliar with the first volume, The Amulet of Samarkand (Hyperion, 2003; Listening Library, 2003), will have a little trouble working into the story at the beginning, but there's enough action to hold listeners' attention as they gather clues to what has brought about the current crisis-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 7-12. This sequel to The Amulet of Samarkand 0 (2003) takes up the story two years later, in 1868. According to Stroud's alternate history, London is governed by powerful magicians who keep the commoners in line through intimidation. Among the magicians maneuvering for power is the rather unlikable Nathaniel, now 14. When a golem destroys part of the British Museum, Nathaniel is sent to Prague to investigate the creature's origin. Once again, he calls on the powerful djinn Bartimaeus, one of the more memorable characters in fantasy literature, to help achieve his goals. Though bound by enchantments, Bartimaeus has a mind of his own and an ironic attitude that colors his witty commentary. Chapters narrated in first-person by Bartimaeus are interspersed with third-person narratives focused on Nathaniel or Kitty, a determined young commoner who appeared briefly in the first book. With a much larger role now, she emerges as a sympathetic young protagonist fighting against the injustices perpetrated by the ruling magicians. A dark, intriguing offering in a highly original fantasy series. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2004 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) This second book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy focuses more on the politics and society of the corrupt, magician-ruled London posited here and less on the personal stories of the orphan Nathaniel and the djinni Bartimaeus, with a noticeable drop in the entertainment quotient. Oh, there's action and intrigue aplenty -- the now-adolescent Nathaniel, with Bartimaeus's reluctant help, must overcome two seemingly unstoppable villains: a golem activated by an unknown traitor in the government and an insane, murderous afrit encased in Gladstone's skeleton. As if that weren't enough, Stroud adds a new major character to the mix -- Kitty Jones, commoner and Resistance member. Kitty's story as oppressed, brave rebel is compelling, and readers will find her admirable, balancing out the increasingly unlikable Nathaniel, who, as ""John Mandrake,"" power-hungry junior minister, is amoral and self-important. But pages spent with Kitty and Nathaniel/Mandrake mean fewer spent with Bartimaeus, and that's a loss: the djinni's dryly humorous, supercilious, often rude persona is one of the books' strengths; also, it's his voice that gives readers that insider's view of the book's highly inventive magical world. With most -- but not all? -- of the villains vanquished, Stroud brings Kitty and Bartimaeus together and spells out the similarity of their lots: both commoners and magical beings suffer at the hands of the all-powerful magicians. The potential for a Bartimaeus-Kitty partnership, plus one or two loose ends left untied, will leave readers eager for book three. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
Picking up two years after The Amulet of Samarkand ended, this sequel continues the original's fast-paced excitement and is enriched by a broader moral view and a third main character. Nathaniel, ambitious teenage magician (politician), works furiously to gain power and credence in London's magician-run government. Slave-djinni Bartimaeus, bound to follow Nathaniel's orders, retains his ultra-sardonic voice (including trademark commentary footnotes). The third viewpoint is that of Kitty, a teenaged member of the Resistance tormenting London's seat of government. Unlike headstrong Nathaniel (never questioning the British Empire's repressive power) and sarcastic Bartimaeus, the fierce, fiery Kitty is easy to root for. Grave-robbing, international spying, a city-smashing golem, exploding demons, and fearsome Night Police all figure in before the end--which of course isn't the end at all. Is there hope for resisting the Empire? Might enslaved djinn be involved? Stay tuned for more thrills. (character list) (Fantasy. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.