In the three years since the events of The Golem's Eye, Nathaniel (more widely known as John Mandrake) has risen to significant power in the government. Nathaniel has everything he's ever wanted, but is left feeling empty and unfulfilled. Bartimaeus has spent much of these years in service to Nathaniel, resulting in significant damage to his essence. Meanwhile, Kitty Jones, legally proclaimed dead thanks to Bartimaeus's lie, secretly continues her quest for revolution. She believes the key to such a rebellion may be found in Bartimaeus's past, but will she be ready for the truths she finds there?
Ptolemy's Gate is the final book in the Bartimaeus's trilogy (although a prequel has since been published). One of the great things about the final books in a series is that the authors can go all out. Without any risk of having to “top” anything in a forthcoming book, you're able to deliver big, epic events. Granted there is a risk here, as some authors will occasionally get so caught up in the epic-ness of the end, that they'll lose what made the series so appealing in the first place (see Inkdeath and Breaking Dawn). I'm happy to report that this does not occur with Ptolemy's Gate. In fact, I feel it's the best book in the series yet.
Both The Amulet of Samarkand and The Golem's Eye have several chapters dedicated to telling the back story of a major character (first Nathaniel, then Kitty). In Ptolemy's Gate, it's Bartimeaus's past we get to delve into, specially his time with the so-far mysterious Ptolemy. These are some of the most satisfying chapters of the book, as you really get to see what makes Bartimaeus tick. I also found the development of our main cast to be really interesting. It makes sense for Nathaniel to eventually become sick of the state of the government, where magicians fight more for personal gain than the greater good (sound familiar?). When he finally gains a sense of direction, his character really blossoms. I don't want to give too much away about Kitty, but Stroud certainly takes her in some interesting places this book. Like the two previous books in the series, Stroud doesn't coddle the reader. He understands that in order to succeed, that there are often big and permanent consequences as a result, and not always the ones you'd expect.
Ptolemy's Gate is a fantastic end to what's been a thoroughly satisfying fantasy series. I listened to the audiobook production, and found Simon Jones's narration to top notch once again. I tip my hat to you Jonathan Stroud. When it comes to the concept of “Young English Wizards/Magicians/etc,” it would be so easy to deliver another Harry Potter rip-off. Instead, Stroud has delivered a strong series with it's own unique flare.
Rating: five stars
Length: I listened to the audiobook, but the print version is 501 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
Similar Books: The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer, The Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy.
Other books I've read by this author: The Amulet of Samarkand (my review), The Golem's Eye (my review)
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