Although in the previous book Nathaniel said, almost promised, he wouldn’t summon Bartimaeus again, events force his hand. He needs a servant demon that he can trust trust. Well, for a certain value of trust, given the relationship between magicians and their slaves.
The resistance that made a brief appearance in The Amulet of Samarkand make a reappearance, and a much more substantial one as they attempt to rouse the general populace into revolt against the tyranny of the magicians. But the commoners aren’t to be persuaded by random acts of theft and violence. So the resistance have to raise their game.
So we come to know more about Kitty, the girl who turned up in the first book. How she became part of the Resistance, and why.
And then there is the mysterious entity causing widespread destruction throughout London. No one knows what it is, all they know is that it is dangerous, having killed several spirits.
Stroud’s second book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy is even more readable and enjoyable than the first. We get to see what changes 2 years and 8 months have wrought on Nathaniel, and to find out that for the most part these aren’t too great. Now moving in more powerful circles he has become more and more a magician, with all the faults that entails, such as being overly ambitious, power-hungry, unfeeling, vain and I could go on.
Bartimaues, of course, is his usual old self. Time doesn’t really pass in the Other Place, and besides as a djinni several thousand years old almost 3 years isn’t really that long a time span.
As with the last book the narrative shifts from one point of view to another, though this time round there are three narrators; Nathaniel, Bartimaeus and Kitty. Each with their own agenda and perspective on events.
This is the middle book of the trilogy, the one that is usually the least entertaining as there is no “shiny new world” to show off, and a lot of set-up for the final instalment. This doesn’t really suffer from that problem as it has one self-contained story that the book resolves by the end. Stroud also develops the world he has created, so we get to visit Prague, and to see how the commoners live.
All in all an entertaining and amusing read, with plenty of humour thrown in.