Book Review: The Golem’s Eye

I had posted the review of The Amulet of Samarkand quite some time back with a promise to finish the remaining two books of the The Bartimaeus Trilogy and come back with their reviews.

So, I did finish of the other two books – The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gates over the last couple of weeks. Would I recommend? Yes. But read the complete trilogy. If you have to read just one, stop at AoS, even though PG is the best. But a lot of things in PG won’t make perfect sense unless you have read the previous two books!

Let me review the second book, The Golem’s Eye first. And then, I will start reviewing PG.

Review : TGE

Golem’s Eye is probably the worst book of the trilogy, despite being far from getting classified as a bad book. The problem with TGE is that it gives you the feeling of being a filler. Something like the several filler episodes of Naruto while Sasuke is growing in strength at Orochimaru’s castle, and Naruto is growing in Konoha. To show the growth, you need to show something happening at Konoha which is helping all the Ninjas grow.

 

 

Plot (Skip this if you are planning to read the book – Doesn’t contain spoilers, but what the heck!)

Back to TGE, the book starts off a few years after book 1, Nathaniel/John Mandrake is a prominent person in the Government’s scheme of things. However, his status and safety is under threat, as a Golem is unleashed on the city of London, by God knows who! Nathaniel, under uberpressure from all angles, turn backs to the Djinn he had thought of not summoning again, and who continues to be his best bet, Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is full of his wise quips and antics as the two set out to solve the dual problems of Resistance & Golem that the city of London is grappling with.

Kitty, the cursory encounter with whom had left a deep imprint on both Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, makes a strong comeback as a Resistance member with an ideological/honest side. The resistance rises, gets crushed, and Kitty along with a couple of other people survives to set the stage for book 3 – PG.

The conspiratorial angle of magicians, power leading to corruption, and an innate honesty saving the day are still the main themes of the book. The allegories to modern day and historical politics/world are fairly visible. I am surprise how books like these find their way in the children’s section of bookstores. The hidden layers after layers of satire and metaphors is not something that I expect children to understand. Having said that, I think the story in itself is quite a generous dose of fantasy for children to enjoy!

 

My views

Where the book suffers is the shallowness of the conspiracy which does not get matched with the thickness of the book. The book could have been finished off in half the number of pages. It becomes a drag at times with all the details around things that sound better when narrated at a frantic pace. For instance, the scene at Gladstone’s tomb should definitely have been shortened, given the surge of emotions that every character would have been going through.

Good things about the book –

  1. Bridges the gap between AoS and PG nicely.
  2. The story has elements of fantasy which are nice (Golem, as a concept is quite intriguing)
  3. Nathaniel finally moves on from being the hero to the dark guy (for a big part of the novel).

Bad Things about the book –

  1. The pace
  2. There aren’t as many sub-plots in the story to wrote a 300 page book
  3. Could’ve explored Kitty’s character a little better
  4. The book has chapters narrated from the eyes of Kitty, Bartimaeus and Nathaniel. There can be chapters narrated from the evil guys’ eyes as well!
  5. While the book is titled the Golem’s Eye, Golem (I found Golem to be a very exciting concept) isn’t given a good amount of importance in a book which is more about the war between Magicians and Resistance

Back to my rating mechanism (mentioned in this post), the book holds true to 2 of the 4 parameters – attention to detail, loyalty to genre, and fails to deliver the ultimate punch on two of them – pace and content. I won’t go to the extent of saying it failed on the content. It’s the right content, but not sufficient!

Overall – Read the trilogy. It is very very gripping!

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