Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com
He's back! But this time around, the smart-mouthed djinni, Bartimaeus, is exhausted from too much work and not enough time to recover in his netherworld home. It's like they always say, "All work and no play makes Bartimaeus a dull supernatural being." Although, in this case, he's anything but dull. He's tired, weak, sharp-tongued, homicidal, and insulting. But definitely not dull.
In this third installment of THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, the hero is again a djinni who has little respect for humans and even less interest in their petty wars and government squabbles. The magicians who rule England in this series of books insist on summoning Bartimaeus and scores of other demons to fight their wars, provide magical assistance of all sorts, and generally do their bidding. The demons see this treatment as slavery, and for good reason. What would you call forced servitude for no pay under threat of intense pain?
PTOLEMY'S GATE opens to find poor Bartimaeus stretched to the breaking point by his magician master, Nathaniel. A war in America is going poorly, the commoners of London are growing tired of the ruling class of magicians, and young Nathaniel is looked upon with jealousy and mistrust by his co-workers. As a result of all of these threats, Nathaniel rationalizes the need to keep Bartimaeus around to help him deal with the many problems that he faces. After a long association with the djinni, it is almost as if Nathaniel trusts his reluctant servant. And it is almost as if Bartimaeus has a shred of concern for human dealings. Almost.
PTOLEMY'S GATE is an excellent capstone to the extraordinary Bartimaeus series. I enjoyed all of these books immensely and recommend them to anyone who enjoys young adult fantasy. Like the first two books, THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND and THE GOLEM'S EYE, this one is filled with humor and excitement. These books also offer some social commentary for those who want to pay attention to such things. For example, the ruling class of magicians in these books take extreme measures to maintain their own positions, while claiming that they are really just interested in keeping the masses safe. There are resistance groups that oppose the government, and they engage in acts of terrorism to free themselves from the magicians' oppressive yoke.
The entiretrilogy is a fun-filled pleasure to read. Doubtless it would be possible to read PTOLEMY'S GATE without having read the previous two books, but I would not recommend it. There is quite a bit of background that would be missed, and the story would definitely suffer. While the first book in the series, THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND, could probably stand alone, the second two (THE GOLEM'S EYE and PTOLEMY'S GATE) should be read together. And once the last page of PTOLEMY'S GATE is turned, readers will undoubtedly wish they could summon Bartimaeus back for more.
I ended up borrowing this book from the library. I finished it a couple of days ago; and I just returned it.
I would say that this book was quite good but not as good as the first two books. If I had read this book first I probably wouldn't have finished it; in fact I probably wouldn't have gotten past chapter 5. It took until chapter 10 before it started to get interesting. At least that was my experience.
All the three of the trilogy are definitely good reads but I won't read them again.
I don't know what it is that makes a book good enough to read again, but this series doesn't have that quality, at least not for me.