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Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon

Review

Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon

King Solomon, in all of his splendor, has built Jerusalem into a world power with the help of a powerful ring that serves as a bridge to the other side, the place where spirits of all sorts live. Solomon relies on the ring to build large temples, keep himself safe from attacks, and rule with wisdom and power. But the ring is mainly used to keep other magicians in line who crave the throne themselves. Reputation of the ring’s power has also reached outlying kingdoms, especially Sheba, where Queen Balkis is not happy with the threat to her kingdom.

When word of a forced marriage reaches Queen Balkis, she dispatches one of her most loyal guards, Asmira, to kill Solomon and recover the ring. Asmira does so without question, even though she knows it’s a suicide mission. The road to Jerusalem is treacherous, and even if Asmira could get close to Solomon, numerous obstacles stand in her way. Still, Asmira is faithful to her queen and will not fail her.

After savagely and quite gruesomely killing his master, Bartimaeus has been summoned to work for Khaba, one of Solomon’s begrudged magicians. Bartimaeus has been placed on temple building duty, which he’s not happy about. Temple building duty is an insult to a fourth-level djinni, as Bartimaeus would say, so he takes a few liberties with his assignment. Although appearing as a pygmy hippo in a skirt while singing songs about Solomon’s private life might be hilarious, Bartimaeus is nevertheless chastised and reassigned to hunting down bandits in the desert where he stumbles upon a certain Asmira, who has escaped an attack.

After their initial meeting, Asmira and Bartimaeus don’t cross paths again until Asmira sets him free from Khaba’s command and summons Bartimaeus on her own. She has just two requests before she’ll set him free. Bartimaeus needs to help her get to Solomon and steal the ring. If the thousands of imps, foliots, djinn, afrits and mariads standing in the way weren’t enough to dissuade Asmira and Bartimaeus from their plan, then surely the fact that Solomon never takes off his ring and Khaba is hot on their trail will stop them in their tracks. This is Bartimaeus, though, and if there is wiggle room or a loophole, he’ll find it. 

If it’s possible to pack enough wit, sarcasm and personality into one character, then Jonathan Stroud has succeeded with his creation of Bartimaeus. Fans of the series will no doubt be eager to read of Bartimaeus’s ongoing adventures. But don’t worry. Plenty of footnotes capturing Bartimaeus’s comical commentary, unique point of view, and oftentimes cynical opinions are plentiful throughout, and the djinni is up to his usual antics, including ridiculing his masters, arguing with his frenemy Faquarl, complaining about his slavery, and ultimately saving the world yet again. I, for one, hope that Stroud has plenty of Bartimaeus stories to tell and that the djinni won’t grow too bored benefiting the earth with his presence. 

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on November 2, 2010

Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon
by Jonathan Stroud

  • Publication Date: January 24, 2012
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult 10+
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • ISBN-10: 1423124049
  • ISBN-13: 9781423124047