Freedom is an illusion. It always comes at a price.
The Bartimaeus Trilogy is set in a fictional London, wherein magic, magicians and demons are normal occurrences in everyday life, and that they actively participate in events all throughout history. In a sense, the trilogy offers an alternative, witty and funny “explanation” on how monumental events have happened in history. The story follows Nathaniel and his djinni Bartimaeus from his childhood as a young noble magician to his transformation to becoming the corrupted John Mandrake, and eventually his redemption and return to good.
The trilogy cleverly and wittingly showcased humanity, on how good people get corrupted, and how they redeem themselves (if they choose to). That there’s always hope for change. Readers are also offered a glimpse on the hierarchy, competition, rivalry and camaraderie between spirits. The depth on how these aspects are explored enables readers to empathize with both Nathaniel and his witty but manipulative servant Bartimaeus. But really, the star of the entire trilogy is Bartimaeus and his epic footnotes, narrating his comments and POV on historical and present events. You can’t help but feel sorry for him, especially when he’s been consecutively summoned by Nathaniel even when he still hasn’t regained enough strength from the Other Place. You can easily feel how hard it’s been for him to properly carry out his tasks without much source of energy. He’s cunning, evil, but likeable. All characters were beautifully written and creatively imagined that you can’t help but root for them.
When I finished reading the last book, I was both satisfied and heartbroken. Satisfied because it was a good ending, in a sense that I felt like it concluded the way it should’ve, even though that wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to end. I was heartbroken because I knew that there would be no more continuation to the story. That it ended like that (can’t really say much without spoiling it), and it felt like a part of me died too, in an excruciatingly good kind of way.
Paul Sweeney once said: You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. That’s exactly how I felt when I finished Ptolemy’s Gate.
If you still haven’t read this trilogy, then you are seriously missing out. I highly recommend this.
A dozen more questions occurred to me. Not to mention twenty-two possible solutions to each one, sixteen resulting hypotheses and counter-theorems, eight abstract speculations, a quadrilateral equation, two axioms, and a limerick. That’s raw intelligence for you.
–Philip Pullman, Ptolemy’s Gate