Friday, February 18, 2011

The Ring of Solomon

Bartimaeus is back... and he's just as funny as ever!

Jonathan Stroud has written a masterpiece of wit set in the time of King Solomon.

King Solomon is an evil king, intent on ruling the world under the iron fist of fear. He commands a Ring of great power, a Ring that, with one twist, allows him to command all the spirits that reside in the Other Place. With the might of that Ring, all the world cowers in obedience before his omnipotence.

The djinni Bartimaeus has been summoned and bound to a magician in punishment for having escaped and slain his previous master. Forced to work for Solomon's henchman, Khaba, Bartimaeus and six other disgraced djinn are hard at work on his Solomon's new temple, with strict instructions to use no magic in the temple's making. When these orders are disregarded, Bartimaeus and his six companions are sent to hunt out other creatures who are disrupting trade routes. 

Elsewhere, the Queen of Sheba has received multiple marriage proposals from Solomon, which she has refused. Now Solomon threatens to destroy her country's frankincense trade. To keep her country's peace intact, the Queen sends Asmira, a guard in her regime, to kill Solomon and steal the Ring. Fiercely loyal and obedient even to death, Asmira sets off to Jerusalem.

On his hunt, Bartimaeus meets Asmira as she is traveling to Jerusalem under an assumed identity. After many episodes, during which Bartimaeus is beaten by a very powerful marid and imprisoned in a bottle, Asmira summons Bartimaeus and makes him her slave, with orders for him to assist her in killing Solomon and stealing the Ring. Despite the seeming impossibility of the task, Bartimaeus shines his way through with his customary wit, sarcasm, and ingenuity. During their escapades, Asmira and Bartimaeus form an uneasy respect for each other. As the climax reaches it's conclusion, surprising facets of Solomon's true character begin to emerge.

This book is a must-have companion to the previous books in Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy. (1. The Amulet of Samarkand; 2. The Golem's Eye; 3. Ptolemy's Gate.) The Ring of Solomon will fast become another favourite to diehard Bartimaeus fans. I give this book a five star rating, but I happen to love sarcastic djinnis with a penchant for eating weaker spirits.

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