Phew! Where does one start with ‘Ptolemy’s Gate’, the conclusion to Jonathan Stroud’s ‘Bartimaeus’ trilogy? What started off as a fun, shallow but witty/funny series, gets layered, emotional and very engrossing by the third book.
You need to have read the first two books to appreciate and understand the third installment of this fantasy series. Some crucial characters and sub-plots that are introduced in the first two books gain more significance in the finale. Stroud’s language is a lot more vivid this time and readers can notice a maturity in his writing, right from the first few pages. It’s so great to see a writer’s growth, it infuses a sense of joy within you while reading.
As a history buff, I LOVE how ‘Part 1′ in the book starts with a flashback chapter set in Alexandria (125 BC). There’s an assassination attempt on a young royal, complete with daggers, poisonous darts and what not. It’s a thrilling beginning and readers finally get an intriguing look at Bartimaeus’ relationship with Ptolemy, one of his older masters, whose guise the Djinni prefers taking whenever he is summoned on earth. So through the book, we keep getting these flashback chapters that are richly written, taking you back in time. The primary plot unfolds in present-day London, where Bartimaeus’ master John Mandrake/Nathaniel is a big Minister and even part of the Prime Minister’s council. Unfortunately, our favorite sarcastic Djinni’s powers are dangerously deteriorating due to his constant enslavement under Mandrake, who refuses to give him a break.
The highlight of this finale was Bartimaeus’ equation with Ptolemy, even though those chapters aren’t too many. A lot of readers would’ve happily lapped up an entire novel centered around just these two characters. In-fact every major character apart from Nathaniel sees strong growth, especially Kitty. The feisty human-girl is no longer a minion of ‘The Resistance’, and even though she is a fugitive functioning under an alibi, Kitty is determined more than ever to take on those in power in whatever little capacity she can. So Stroud continues with the theme of class-struggle and things gets more exciting because an unimaginable force of villains are at work in book three.
Readers also get a slight change in scene in the last book as a major character goes to Prague on a mission, and even though it doesn’t seem too different than the gloomy London, it still makes for a fun change. Nathanial continues to be the boorish bratty magician, but Stroud slowly tries to redeem his negative shades and it felt a little contrived. Regardless, Nathaniel might finally manage to worm his way into the hearts of some readers.
Stroud gives fans a fantastic finale and I was completely satisfied and happy for having picked up this trilogy. It’s a 5/5 for the final book!
Subscribe to our podcast on YouTube by the same name – Abstract AF
Ep 64 – Why ‘Diary of a Bad Year’ Was Bad Reading Experience