Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com
He's rude. He's surly. He won't hesitate to tell you when your haircut looks stupid. And in over 5000 years, he's seen some bad haircuts. I'm talking about my favorite djinni, Bartimaeus, back in book two of his young adult fantasy trilogy.
THE GOLEM'S EYE is an excellent sequel to the first book in the series, THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND. In the first book, we meet Bartimaeus, an ancient creature of enormous power that can best be described as a type of demon. Unfortunately, he and all of his kind hate the word demon. He classifies himself as a djinni, so we'll just go with that for the purposes of this review. Why annoy anyone who can shoot magical firebolts at you, right? Anyway, Bartimaeus, and other creatures like him, are summoned by human magicians to do their bidding. Needless to say, this forced servitude, or slavery, is not popular with the servants, so they do their best to turn the tables on their human masters whenever possible.
Enter Nathaniel, a boy who is in training to become a powerful magician. In book one of the series, he summons Bartimaeus from the netherworld and an involuntary partnership begins. In THE GOLEM'S EYE, young Nathaniel again finds himself in need of the djinni's aid, so he again turns to reluctant Bartimaeus. This time, a revolutionary group is blowing things up in London, which may or may not be related to a series of unusual occurrences that have the police stumped. Nathaniel feels that his career would take off if he can solve these crimes. But the stakes are high because he knows that his career, and possibly his life, are in jeopardy if he fails.
A key part of THE GOLEM'S EYE storyline centers on the activities of a London resistance group that is fighting to overthrow the magicians' government. Nathaniel's inability to track down these criminals is part of the reason he needs Bartimaeus's help. Of course, the djinni has little interest in helping magicians maintain their dominance. After all, they're the ones who continually force him and his kind into servitude. This conflict of interest makes for some entertaining scenes and conversations.
If you have not read THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND, I strongly recommend you pick that one up before diving into THE GOLEM'S EYE. Technically, you don't have to read the first one, but there is an awful lot of background you will miss if you don't. Plus, it's really fun.
Normally I find myself disappointed in sequels. Somehow they never seem to live up the expectations established by the original. But in this case, I was pleasantly surprised. This book is full of excitement, political intrigue, and humor. Bartimaeus is back with all of his cheeky comments, and there are plenty of thrills to go around. Overall, a great book.