Time for reading..... The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud (book recommendation and review)

Does this novel has a cool cover or what? It came really handy when I accidentely dropped the book in the sink while I was blow drying my hair. Well, fortunately this 3D cover protected the book from being damaged by the water (a good thing since I borrowed this book from the library and would hate to give it back in bad state). Anyhow, a lesson learned there!  Take it from me, it is not possible to blow dry your hair and read at the same time. It simply isn't possible. We don't have 3 hands, so no we can't hold a brush, a hair dryer and a book at the same time. Unless we can do magic. This is what this book is all about. It is a fantasy novel, a sequel to The Amulet of Samarkard (published in 2003) that I actually mentioned about a year ago on this blog. It is my second novel by this British author but not the last one because I do plan to read all the sequels, and perhaps others works by Stroud as well. Jonathan Stroud seems to me my kind of writer. There are a lot of authors from Britain that I really like but it is always nice to find new ones.  As much as I like classics, I'm also always on a lookout for new stuff.  This particular novel was published in 2004. In one way, it is a light read, full of humour, but if you read it the way I do, you can also take something else from it- a life lesson about how important is it to think with our own heads and not just accept everything that is served on our plate.

I was really looking forward to reading this second novel in the Bartimaeus series. I was quite curious to see what it would be like, not just in the sense of the development of the story and the characters, but of the world building as well. I kept wondering how will this world ruled by magicians develop further? I was eager to see what place will our protagonist Nathaniel take in it, will he become like the rest of them (i.e. all the other corrupted magicians)? The world that the author created in the first novel was of great interest to me. In the first novel, I found the setting as fascinating as the story itself. I must say that I wasn't disappointed with how the world building evolved in this one. This sequel was wonderful, an absolute joy to read. Often the sequel disappoints, not being able to retain its original charm, but not this time. It is obvious that the author already had things worked out in his mind because everything seems to flow naturally. This sequel opens up as a mystery novel. Nathanial has to solve the mysterious attacks that are bringing shame to the government. He is utterly engrossed in this task, for his career and his life, depend on his ability to solve the mystery and find the group that is behind these attacks. There are many twists and turns in this Golem’s Eye and many secrets to be discovered. In fact, the secret identity of the person behind the golem’s eye is only one of them. This is an excellently plotted novel with enough food for the thought- or at least that is my experience.

 If one cares to, one can draw many parallels to our own world, just switch the magicians with modern politicians. The magic could be used as a metaphor for power and money. In this alternative world, the general public doesn’t have much say in anything. It is understood that the magicians know better and that the commoners should just look after their own business and stay out of magicians’ way. In other ways, exactly like democracies in Europe and USA. As far as I can recall, nobody asked us, the European public, would we like to stop trading with Russia? There was no referendum on that subject in any EU country.  I’m not an expert on economy, but one doesn’t have to be to know that the record high unemployment in Europe is a sign of economic collapse and you don’t need to be one smart cookie to figure out that a bit of trade would go a long way right now.  Likewise, I didn’t notice that American politicians are consulting the public on the subject of whether it is a good idea to push a nuclear superpower into a war? If some politician decides it is time to go to war, that’s what happens. Nobody asks the public anything. Yes, we get to choose between people serving identical power groups every few years but that doesn’t amount to much, does it? If it seems to you that this scenario where one small group dominates another larger group seems unlikely, think again.

 I swear this real world we live in sometimes sounds more ridiculous than a third-rate fantasy novel. No wonder I feel the need to escape it by reading first class fantasy novels. This novel seems a lot more logical and better thought through than our own ‘real’ world (and the sense of humour is right up my alley, so no wonder I like it so much). I mean there is a logical explanation to why people don’t rebel against politicians/magicians in this novel, they have a complete control over the schools, the media, the education, every aspect of life.  What is the explanation for general public being so passive and believing everything it is told in our world? Golem’s Eye does give us plenty of explanations as to why this world is the way it is, but this time the dynamics of a narrative are a bit different, it is no longer only about the boy and the djinn, now it there is another character that takes the prominent place. When I wondered, what characters would be a part of this sequel, I didn’t expect any of the old ones to reappear (I mean at the end of the previous novel, most people surrounding Nathaniel are killed and off he goes to be the part of the elite). I completely forgot about Kitty, a girl that shows up shortly in the Bartimaeus narrative and makes a fool out of him. Well, she turns out to be an important character in this novel and there is a good reason for her introduction for it makes sense not just in terms of the plot but in adding a human dimension to this novel.

You see another thing I wondered about was what the relationship between the boy and the djinn would be like in the sequel. I took it for granted that there will be a relationship between the two of them. I assumed that the boy will, despite promising otherwise, summon the djinn to serve him once again. I was not mistaken, for Nathaniel indeed summons Bartimaeus when he finds himself in trouble. I guess we can give him some credit for at least attempting to avoiding his promise. What make the dynamics of their relationship so interesting in the first one is the fact that Nathaniel is vulnerable to Bartimaeus because the spirit knows his name. In addition, Nathaniel’s naivety (not to mention young age) made him less like other magicians. However, Nathaniel of Golem’s Eye, is not a very likeable character. He is only a few years older, but he is very much changed. Bartimaeus still can negotiate with him, because he knows his secret, but the relationship between them is different.

Surely, Bartimaeus said some bad things about Nathaniel in the first sequel, but it was obvious that the boy’s youth got to him and that he felt some sympathy for him- probably because he reminded him of the Egyptian boy, the only master Bartimaeus seems to have respected. Nathaniel does show some sheds of decency that his superiors lack. Nevertheless, everything is different now. Hence, comes Kitty! As the only individual with some moral decency, she is contrasted sharply with all the other’s characters. This works very well with the premise of the novel that states that magicians are inheritably bad.  As I said, I quite liked how the magicians need for power is showed to be pathological in essence. Indeed, I could strike some parallels with 1984, if only there wasn’t so much humour in this one. Everyone who says anything against magicians is, a priori, considered an enemy of the state in much the same way as described in 1984. So, my initial question of whether this sequel would elaborate on politics, revealing more about the power structures and dynamics of this would, could be answered with yes. There is a lot of serious issues tacked through Bartimaeus sarcasm, from slavery to colonialism. He is notorious for his funny remarks on humans.

What makes this possible is Kitty.  The author digresses into past to give us her background. This was also necessary because her story is connected with the plot in many ways. The reasons why Kitty hates magicians so much are quite relevant for the context of her story. In addition, the injustice Kitty suffered from the hands of magicians allows us to understand her actions. Her character development is handled with care.  We understand why she is so driven to take revenge. We understand why even when everything seems futile, she doesn’t stop. Being the moral character she is, makes her invoke admiration in Bartimaeus, invoking him to share his knowledge of history and human societies with her. His discussions and dialogues with Kitty were really interesting and well developed. For me, Bartimaeus was always the star of the story and I was quite happy with his role in this novel. His bond with Kitty seemed quite genuine. All this happens later on in the story (exactly how their paths cross again I won’t say), but I will say it feels very real and meaningful all the same. The fact that spirits are forced to serve magicians is something we’re told from the beginning, but the sequel elaborates on it, comparing spirits (djinns and other lesser spirits and beings) with slaves. This sequel made me sympathize with others djinns, not just our charming Bartimaeus but it was through Bartimaeus conversation with Kitty that I realized how much spirits really hate being materialized and how it takes a toll on them.

I think that I said in my review of The Amulet how that first novel seemed more suitable for young adult and adult audience than for young children (no graphic description of violence in neither of these two, but there are plotted murders and deaths). However, this one seemed a bit lighter for some reason (even if it discussed serious matters at times) so it might very well be suited for older kids. It could have felt that way because there was a lot of humour in it, in all shapes and forms. Maybe it felt a bit ‘lighter’ because Kitty represents imminent if not evident hope for change. Moreover, Nathaniel’s turn into a ‘serious magician’ is not without a sense of comedy. He might be losing his moral compass, but his djinn is there to remind him of it and make fun of him every step of the way. His intellectualism still serves him well, but he seems kind of lame in comparison with Kitty, who is the heroine of this one. That was refreshing- having a girl be a hero for once!

 I pretty much liked everything about this one.  There were only a few minor things bugging me. One of them was the way that the narration kept switching from first to third person when Bartimaeus would change form. For example, when he would become a cat, the sentence would be- the cat did this or that but then it would return to the first-person narration. Perhaps, this was to give us a better visual perspective of events. It might even serve to enable Bartimaeus to focus on narrating things his way, without having to explain what is he doing on the physical level. This was only a bit irritating at start, soon I got used to it and didn’t mind it. One thing that I did mind was how naïve Nathaniel still was, despite his obvious high intelligence. One in a while, I think he could have been less abashed with what was going on. Apart from that, his character development, with his teenage insecurities contrasted with incredible ambition, was well balanced. Another thing that I felt was lacking was a few juicy conversations between Bartimaeus and his master. I know that the novel was fast paced and that really wasn’t much place for it (especially with Kitty’s past and present life being introduced) but it would have been fun seeing more dialogue between them. Their changed relationship and estrangement did make sense; I was just left wanting a bit more. 

 In this review, I focused mostly on characters and the world building. I know that didn’t really say much about the plot, but hey I didn’t want to spoil anything for anyone. That- and truthfully as entertaining as the story itself has been (who doesn’t like a nice detective story?) that was not my primary field of interest. However, I will comment on the ending. I must say that the climax is really superb and that it all ties nicely in the end.  Towards the end, I kept asking myself how will everything get resolved, but actually the ending felt quite natural.The novel is, as you can see, quite long, more than 500 pages, but it was certainly worth the time it took to read it. I would have loved if I could read it in a short span of time, but my week was kind of awful, one of those weeks when everything that can go wrong does, so I had to pick it up a number of times. All in all, the sequel was more than satisfactory. I expected it to be good, but not this good.  In my view, it was perfect. That would be all for today, thank you for reading!



  1. Hi Ivana, I hope you are OK! I take a note of this book for my next reading but I have to be honest, I work so many hours that I do not have much time to read but I will on my next holidays.
    By the way the coffee set is beautiful :)

    1. thank you, I have never actually used this coffee set yet- I have too many of them, I guess:).

  2. Those tea cups are so cute

  3. Really interesting book:)
    Have a nice day!


  4. Yay for another awesome book review! Sorry that it took me so long to catch up with your blog, hun, I was away last week. This book sounds amazing and you are right, the cover is pretty awesome - glad it turned out to be quite practical, as well! Something about pretty covers always draws me towards books more, if a cover is attractive - I'm more likely to reach for it! x This books sounds like a pretty interesting read, I have always enjoyed fantasy novels; and this one seems to have quite a lot of depth to it, as well. I'm drawn towards stories that focus on character development, I find that you can't really have a good book (or a film, TV show or anything else), if characters are not fleshed out and we don't find any sort of attachment to them as viewers. Although I have to say, switching between the first and the third person narrative would probably bug me as well! I'm not sure why the author would decide to do that. Thanks for sharing another awesome review, and I hope you share more! They're always so much joy to read. :) Hope you're well! Sending lots of love your way. x x


    1. maybe I was reading more into it than was there, but it did seem to me that there is a lot of depth in this novel. It was an interesting read for sure. I'm not sure why the author switched from first to third narration while it focused on one character...but well, maybe he had reasons to do so. There are many more reviews coming along:).

  5. Really nice post! Thank you so much for sharing.

    ** Join Love, Beauty Bloggers on facebook. A place for beauty and fashion bloggers from all over the world to promote their latest posts!


  6. Another amazing review and thoughts, dear Ivanna! The Bartimaeus trilogy seems to be excellent! I understand what you said, that a sequel is normally not so good as the first book, but you found this one good. Alone, this is a good recommendation. I didn't know that spirits didn't like to materialize... and by the way, the cover is so nice! I loooved the picture, with the fine china and sweet table cloth! And yes, reading and drying hair is not possible :) I think that what you said is so true. It seems to have a parallel with today's politics. It maybe was written in a way that it sounds like a novel, but to cover the true intentions towards politics. And yes, no one asked about trading with Russia or nuclear power. But they say that they were elected by the people's votes, so that then they can decide on deeper decisions. Legally it's OK, but morally, I don't think so. But that's my humble opinion! I loved your post, as usual! Always teaching something great! Hope you have a very nice week!

    1. thank you dear:). I'm not sure how other spirits feel about it, but in this novel they don't like to materialize because it actually hurts them and it can kill them- but magicians don't care about that.

      I'm happy you liked the photos:)...yes, not everything that is right legally is also right morally. I hope that our politicians will come to their senses.

      Thank you so much for your comment dear:)

  7. aww so beautiful pics!

    kisses dear

  8. You certainly know how to present a book, love the presentation with this beautiful and elegant china. Happy Halloween, Ivana.

  9. sounds like an interesting book
    love the photos :)


  10. Ivana, your pretty tea set caught my attention instead being a foodie! Hahaha! The pattern is beautiful, dear! xoxo

    1. thank you...can you believe that I have never used this set?

  11. Fantasticna recenzija uz divne, retro fotkice! Mnogo mi se dopada porcelanski servis.



Post a comment

All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

Popular posts from this blog


Inspired by..... Tijana/ Nadahnuta....Tijanom

Lado (drawing of the day/ crtež dana)