Book Review: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
“Much to his annoyance, Bartimaeus the djinni has been enslaved by King Solomon the Great, who commands his empire with an all-powerful magic ring. But things get even worse for him when he meets Asmira, a young Sheban girl sent to Jerusalem on a deadly errand.”
Don’t read this book if you dislike authors taking significant liberty with biblical characters: while Stroud’s Solomon is wise, there is no mention of God’s assistance and lots of mention of various spirits’ endeavors. If you’re open to an alternative version of events though, this is a fun, albeit dark read. Bartimaeus is dangerous: he is a slave and he’s generally treated horribly treated by his magician masters. He’s also one of the most outrageously funny characters ever: he’s snarky, he digresses from the story often, and like Izzy Spellman these detours are delivered via footnote. Aside of always looking for a way to escape his bondage, he’s also always looking for a way to have a good time: hence, while working on Solomon’s new temple, he opts to do so in the shape of a hippo while singing ribald songs about the King himself. Even better than his sense of humor though is his generally ethical nature; despite the things done to him and the things he’s forced to do, Bartimaeus can still recognize and respond to goodness.
I loved the original series so I was delighted to discover this prequel. Published between 2003 and 2005, it’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed the 4th level djinni’s insolent wit and shenanigans. I remember Faquarl so it was fun to see the rivalry between him and Bartimaeus again. If memory serves, Bartimaeus often took the form of a young Solomon in the original trilogy which had me thinking that he had a longer relationship with the king than the prequel indicates – but it has been awhile, so I may not be remembering correctly.
Becky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks