A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is full of amoral and immoral characters. There's only one semi-admirable character, but most readers won't be rooting for her to succeed.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Nathaniel, the main human character (though certainly not the hero) of the first book, is now the youngest junior minister ever in the government of an alternative British Empire run by magicians. To him falls the job of dealing with the increasingly annoying anti-magician resistance movement. When the destruction grows in scale, no one will believe Nathaniel that it's unrelated to the resistance, that it is in fact the work of a golem, controlled by a traitor in the government. So he summons Bartimaeus, as snide and reluctant as ever, and travels to Prague to find the secret of the golem.
Meanwhile Kitty, a member of the commoner resistance introduced briefly in the first book, is part of a group planning to raid Gladstone's tomb for artifacts of great power. Both her plans and Nathaniel's go badly wrong, setting the stage for a climactic confrontation with the golem.
Is it any good?
The good news is that Bartimaeus is back; the bad news is that there's not enough of him. What made the first book in this series a standout was his sarcastic commentary, self-aggrandizing descriptions, witty banter, and delightful footnotes detailing the workings of magic and demons in this alternative world. They're all still here, just less of them.
Meanwhile Nathaniel and Kitty alternately take center stage in a complex and often exciting, if too loosely edited, adventure involving, among many other things, grave-robbing, a demon living in Gladstone's bones, political intrigue, war, werewolf police, destruction, and a shadowy figure who seems to be playing all sides like puppets. Nathaniel, one of the least likeable main characters in children's literature, continues to fascinate and frustrate the reader with his growing power -- and obtuseness. The stage is clearly set for a grand finale in Book 3, presumably including Nathaniel's reclamation.