Tag Archives: Jonathan Stroud

Book Review — Bartimaeus:The Ring of Solomon

Standard

IT’S a rare thing for me to be so enchanted by fictional characters — especially in books. The very fact that they’re not real is one reason; also, most are generally not memorable enough.

Of course there are exceptions; for instance, Caroline Graham’s DCI Barnaby, Jo Nesbo’s Detective Harry Hole, Reginald Hill’s Dept. Supt. Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe (seeing a pattern here?) and Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus of Uruk.

Who is NOT a detective, by the way. HAH!

Baritmaeus is everyone’s — at least he’s mine — favourite djinni or demon, if you will (fourth level, by the way; he gets insulted if one likens him to a small fry scallywag). He is vainglorious, recalcitrant, rebellious and the typical wisecracking smart mouth that, at best, leaves me in stitches or, at worst, with a smile on my face. With the exception of a witty repertoire, I reckon these  characteristics make a pretty impressive resume for aspiring demons. Credit goes to author Jonathan Stroud, who brings footnotes to a whole new level and so much joy to reading.

In Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus travels back in time to the reign of King Solomon circa 950 B.C. (this was written as a prequel to the Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy which was published some years ago) for a new series of adventures while changing masters in rapid time.This time he finds himself under the command of the evil and oppressive magician Khaba the Cruel, who has insidious plans to overthrow King Solomon by threatening to ambush Sheba’s frankincense trade on behalf of the King. Solomon was the most feared ruler in all the kingdoms at the time because of a powerful ring he possesses. The Queen of Sheba, meanwhile, believing the safety and prosperity of her kingdom and frankincense trade at stake, sends Asmira, her personal guard to steal the ring and kill the King. In the midst of it all, Bartimaeus unwittingly finds Asmira his new master and is forced to cooperate in her fatal mission.

I must say that Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon wasn’t as good as the Bartimaeus Trilogy or, to be more precise, The Amulet of Samarkand which is the first instalment of the trilogy. That one really cracked me up and I liked that it was set in more ‘modern’ times. Still, it was a pleasant and amusing read and I would recommend it to those in search of some light entertainment.

One final comment: there was an unspoken message behind the story (for me). The story underscored the issue of slavery, albeit in a light-hearted manner. Aren’t we all slaves to something or other which makes us do things unquestioningly and forget to think logically and rationally? What are we bound to? Food for thought, really.