The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud is the third book of the Bartimaeus Sequence and the second book of the original Bartimaeus trilogy. It takes place two years after the first book.
Nathaniel, the name he goes by now is John Mandrake, is now apprenticed to the Minister of Security and is put on the case of cracking down the resistance. Having previously been mugged by some of its members, Nathaniel feels confident he can crack the case. But as time goes by, and other mysterious attacks in London happen, he’s getting nervous. He knows one person who can help him – if you can call him a person really – figure out what the resistance is up to and what kind of creature is attacking London. Summoning Bartimaeus is the only thing he can do, even though it might place him under the scrutiny of his fellow magicians. After all, Bartimaeus knows his birth name.
I liked the second book just as much as the first, but for different reasons. Nathaniel, John, is now a magician and you can see the pressure of his peers getting to him. He’s different from the child he once was (the child Bartimaeus thought might actually turn out fine) even though he’s still a child. Fourteen years old and already working in security. The strain it puts on him, and the need to remodel his personality and appearance, is great. It’s hard to see him as he once was. He’s harder now, and colder.
But the most interesting thing about this book was a deeper insight into the resistance, through the eyes of Kitty Jones. She’s a member of the resistance – one of the more ‘higher ranked’ members – and appeared briefly in the first book. Now she plays a bigger role. The book alternates between the perspective of Nathaniel, Bartimaeus and Kitty.
You get a sense of how the ‘commoners’ feel about magicians, both the good and the bad. The headstrong and the meek. And you get to see Kitty for the idealist and slightly naive girl that she is. Though her heart is in the right place – as evidenced by her attempted rescue of her friend Jacob, even though she knows it’s a trap.
Bartimaeus and Kitty both, even though neither of them would even want to admit it, are a bit fond of each other and enjoy the conversations (as few and brief as they are) between them. Bartimaeus even lies to Nathaniel to save her from being hunted, which will play a bigger part in the next book.
And there is of course, the golem and the mystery of its master. All in all, Jonathan Stroud nailed it again!