Continuing my new series ‘Reading Rachael‘, I decided to read something in the Young Adult section for the month of February. Again, I was highly ambitious and chose a trilogy, but with several Sunday afternoons devoted to reading, I was able to finish all three novels!
The Bartimaeus trilogy takes place in an alternative history of London, and follows three different characters, as their lives intertwine. The novels are full of interesting magic, complex characters, and excellent humour!
One of my favourite aspects of the Bartimaeus trilogy, is that much of the trilogy is told from the perspective of the main character, Bartimaeus, a 5000 year old djinn. Not only does Bartimaeus have an acerbic wit, which I loved, but he often has asides with the reader, in the form of footnotes, found at the bottom of each page. I was initially taken aback at seeing the footnotes, since they’re rarely found outside of academia (and frankly, I really can’t stand footnotes in academic papers either), but these asides provide great insight into how Bartimaeus perceives the world.
Another aspect of the story that I very much enjoyed was that all of the characters are flawed. In fact, they’re all deeply flawed – so much so, that it is quite difficult to like one of the main characters. It is easy enough to write likable main characters, and it’s even easy to redeem those characters who are flawed. But Stroud, as an exceptionally skilled writer creates characters who are not always likable, and are not always fully redeemable. In so doing, he creates incredibly realistic characters, ones to which I could relate, which in my opinion is much stronger in world building than just writing likable characters.
The magical artifacts, spells, and the world of ‘alternate history London’ as imagined by Stroud is incredibly intricate, and fascinating. I never knew what to expect next, and the sheer creativity of the world was wonderful.
There is actually a forth novel in the Bartimaeus world, that was written as a prequel to the trilogy. It’s called the Ring of Solomon, and I started it, read seven chapters, and put it back down. I was disappointed with the prequel because although it is supposed to be part of the same universe as the other novels, it felt incredibly disjointed, and frankly confusing at times. I wasn’t invested in the story at all.
Still, anyone who loves Young Adult fantasy should absolutely read the Bartimaeus trilogy. I highly recommend it!
Have any of you read the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below!
March’s ‘Reading Rachael’ will be epic fantasy!