Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ptolemy's Gate

The first time I read The Amulet of Samarkand, I was hooked. I succumbed to the charms of the wise-cracking djinni Bartimaeus, and I adored the book. The Golem's Eye was harder to like. It was still a good story, and the character of Kitty made an interesting addition, but young magician Nathaniel was behaving abominably, and there wasn't enough of the wonderful voice of Bartimaeus.

I had hopes that Ptolemy's Gate would live up to the expectations set in the first book. I'm happy to say that it's everything I'd hoped for - and more!

Several years have passed, and Nathaniel, known to all as John Mandrake, is now on the Council, one of the most important men in the government. But things are spiraling out of control, and between the war, protests by the commoners - and protecting his own position - Nathaniel is kept pretty busy. He fears to release Bartimaeus back to the Other Place for a much needed rest, but the longer Bartimaeus remains in this world, the weaker and less effective he becomes. Meanwhile, Kitty is involved in a plan of her own, a plan that she hopes will solve the problems facing her country. When Bartimaeus and Nathaniel uncover a plot against the government, the three of them - Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, and Kitty - will be thrown together against unimaginable danger.

Start with an exciting story that'll keep you on the edge of your seat, add in a wisecracking djinni, an idealistic young woman, and an, er, unsympathetic but confused magician, and you've got a winner. But even more than that, Ptolemy's Gate is a powerful and moving story that resonates with choices and consequences, sacrifice and redemption, and the human bonds of love and obligation that even djinni can fall prey to.

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