Jonathan Stroud,
Bartimaeus Trilogy #3:
Ptolemy's Gate

(Hyperion, 2005)

Ptolemy's Gate is the third and final book of the Bartimaeus trilogy, following The Amulet of Samarkand and The Golem's Eye. The story starts three years after where Golem's Eye left off, and John Mandrake (Nathaniel) has risen rapidly to the position of Information Minister, engendering jealousy among more veteran members of the government. Instead of dismissing the djinni Bartimaeus, so that Bartimaues could recover, Mandrake has kept him continuously in this realm, leaving Bartimaeus very, very weak. Just as Bartimaeus is reaching the point where remaining on Earth could drain him fatally, a major plot to overthrow the government begins to surface.

Meanwhile, former resistance member Kitty Jones has taken on an assumed identity, as many people, including Mandrake, think she perished at the hands of the golem three years ago. Kitty is working for a magician and secretly studying how to summon Bartimaeus, as she felt that he could tell her much that might help the commoners. Kitty pieces together Bartimaeus's past, which turns out to be quite interesting indeed.

Mandrake finally finds Kitty just as the coup attempt starts, fails very badly and leads to consequences that are, in the context of this fictional universe, truly dreadful and catastrophic. Will any of them survive? I will say one thing: at least one hero dies, quite nobly. However, I will also say that, by the time the death occurs, there are three solid hero candidates (Mandrake, who has rediscovered his humanity, Kitty and Bartimaeus).

Jonathan Stroud's writing remains as crisp, clear and fast-paced as in the first two books. The emergence of the Ptolemy character and his storyline is a great addition. While Bartimaeus has become slightly more mellow, his character has also become much more complex. Kitty has also been further developed, and Mandrake/Nathaniel experiences a credible and satisfying epiphany.

The Bartimaeus trilogy is very interesting reading for anyone from age 11 and up. There is humor, magic, intrigue and character development, and moral issues are addressed. While this book certainly concludes the trilogy, Stroud has created a fictional universe that could serve as the setting for more stories. Some of the characters do survive. Hmmm, I wonder....

by Chris McCallister
10 June 2006

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