Since I mentioned it on my Literature Lineup, I thought I might as well jot down a few notes. Six years ago, hungry for a good read after Harry Potter, I was scanning the Middle-Grade section when I saw the cover for The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) It looked magical, shiny and oh-so-blue.
I picked it up and read the first paragraph, and from that moment I was hooked. Bartimaeus is, to this day, my very favorite first-person host. If I were to get a chance to hang out with one fictional character, it would be him; so long as he was under strict orders not to eat me. I ate through the book and the second in the Trilogy, and eagerly awaited the release of the third.
The Bartimaeus Trilogy is, to this day, at the top of my favorites list in regards to Middle-Grade Fantasy. The Ring of Solomon is, as far as I can tell, a single book released for readers who love Bartimaeus. Readers like me.
And it didn’t disappoint. I got all the same things I loved about the other books – magic, adventure, pithy remarks, and reflections on the affect power has on those who hold it. It restores “Self-sacrifice” as the definition of heroism, as opposed to “kicking butt” (though there is a lot of that, too).
This book is good enough to stand up on it’s own, without need for the Bartimaeus Trilogy. However, as is to be expected, the Trilogy has a lot more to feed one’s appetite, explores the themes more deeply, and delivers a stronger payoff. With the same amount of skill and finesse displayed in all four books, the trilogy is obviously going to be stronger, since it has more to work with.
And so, in short, if you haven’t read Bartimaeus yet – start with the Amulet of Samarkand. If you love the trilogy and just want more Bartimaeus, pick up The Ring of Solomon to find yourself whisked away on a magic carpet. (Which is actually a regular carpet held up by a particularly potent djinni. Make sure to get your incantations correct…)