Posts Tagged With: Jonathan Stroud

The Ring of Solomon (Bartimaeus) by Jonathan Stroud

“The rules between my masters and myself are clear: the magician forces me to help him get wealth and power, and I do my best to nobble him.”

I heard rumours a while ago that Jonathan Stroud was working on a new Bartimaeus book. When I discovered it was soon to be released, and I could get hold of an early copy, my excitement knew no limits! I just finished it, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Bartimaeus is back, and he’s better than ever!

To go back a bit, there may be some who haven’t heard of this fun character. Bartimaeus is first introduced to us in The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate, now together known as The Bartimaeus Trilogy.

These books were set in a world much like our own, but where magicians exist, normally as politicians. They have the ability to call up and enslave demons of various types, and use them to carry out their deeds. In this world, the magicians are pretty much the villains, and you end up wanting the demons to win!

Bartimaeus is the main demon of the trilogy, and the stories are told partly from his point of view. He’s been around for a long time, and likes nothing more than trying to catch out the magicians. The key to his character is his sarcasm and wit – many of his best comments appear in the footnotes, and bring many ‘laugh out loud’ moments.

Returning to The Ring of Solomon, it’s actually a prequel to the trilogy, as it’s set many centuries ago. However, it’s a stand alone story, and there’s no need to have read the trilogy.

To me, this setting is where Bartimaeus is meant to be. There are more magicians, they are open about there practices, and there are more demons around.. the perfect situation to show Bartimaeus to the full.

The story itself concerns a very powerful ring with Solomon owns – it can bring forth many demons, including one extremely powerful one. This gives him ultimate power throughout the land, although it does mean that many people would like to get rid of him.

One such person is Asmira, a young girl sent by the Queen of Sheba. As a guard, she is given two simple tasks, kill Solomon and get the ring – obviously something she won’t be able to do without help!

It’s a great story, with some interesting twist and turns along the way. If you want to find a serious side, Stroud does look at the issue of devotion versus slavery, as well as the use of power. But with his clever writing, this is done in amongst the best parts of the book.. the action, fun , sarcasm and wit.

Personally speaking, having recently re-read the trilogy, this book is actually a little more grown up. I know many adults enjoy the trilogy, but I think this one offers them even more.

For fans of Bartimaeus, this is an absolute must-buy. For those not yet introduced to him, you may want to give him a try!

The Ring of Solomon is published on Oct 14th 2010.

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Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud

As a fan of Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy, my feelings were a little mixed when I discovered that he was publishing a new book. Although there is the expected excitement, there is also a concern that anything new will fail to live up to expectations or maybe even be too similar to previous books.

In this case, however, I should not have worried. Stroud has stayed with fantasy, but with a very different setting. In this book, we are taken to a valley, somewhere that feels like Northern Europe. As with previous books, however, there’s no specific time frame.

So onto the story – the residents of this valley are divided into ‘houses’, with their own areas, and their own tales of heroes past. From a background of violence, when their heroes all came together to defeat the dreaded ‘Trows’, they are now very peaceful people, with all their weapons melted down.. although jealousies still exist.

The children are brought up listening to tales of heroic deeds, and Halli finds himself longing for a return to these days. When an ancient feud is re-started, he may just get his wish – but in doing so, will he learn what it truly means to be a hero?

Halli’s journey kept me hooked to the book, aided by Stroud’s wonderful humour. It’s a little more subtle than the wonderful one liners found in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, and yet it kept me smiling, and keeps a fun feel to the book.

However, there is a darker, slightly scary side to this book, and I would imagine it suiting slightly older teens.. as well as adults, of course!

Jonathan Stroud is certainly one of my favourite young adult fantasy writers, and this is a great addition to his books. I hope now we don’t have to wait too long for the next one!

Published by rbooks 1st Jan 2009
Hardback £12.99

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If you’ve read Heroes of the Valley, I’d love to know your views, especially on the ending.. come along and discuss on the forum.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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