The fact that I’ve made it to the third in the series says a lot about how good it is. I’m not one for sticking with an author on blind faith or because of past glories.
Three years on from the events of The Golem’s Eye and we find England besieged on all sides and attacked from within by enemies of various sorts. Despite the empire’s fate teetering on a knife edge, the Prime Minister seems less capable to lead them than ever. Even our protagonist, John Mandrake, once such a stalwart of the government, seems to be having doubts, and not just because of the war.
This is another fascinating adventure, packed with Bartimaeus’ wry wit and characters who seem to be fighting their own demons. It’s the sort of book you can’t wait to get back to when you’re forced to put it down (or switch it off).
Having said that, I did see one of the big twists coming, telegraphed from the previous book. I didn’t see the one which follows it though. As great as the story is, there are times when it’s not perfect.
I found myself wanting Mandrake or Bartimaeus to stand up and unleash some vast power, even when they have the chance it never seems to work out that way. To be fair, it’s a mark of the series, it never boils over into the sort of heroic finale that is generally the norm. Perhaps that’s something which adds to the richness and depth of the characters, and the story; they’re never given an easy way out.
It’s also packed with wistful remorse, one eye always on the past, which does take away from some of the immediate action, dulling some of the effect.
As with the previous books in the series it’s beautifully read by Steven Pacey, he does a good job of bringing the characters to life with the simplest change of his voice.
The quality hasn’t dropped and this is as highly recommended as the rest of the series.