Like Book 1, I bought this in airport, but this time, I was too early (and on top of that, the flight was cancelled for 4 hours, damn!). The cover of the book showed a blue bull with a distinctive smirk, with impossible white curl on his forehead, and who is this demon? No other than the diabolical Bartimaeus himself.
This book caught up Nathaniel 3 years after the end of the event in Book 1. Nathaniel, or Mr John Mandrake, now 14, was highly positioned in politics, being ambitious as he usually was, helped by his deeds in Book 1. He was the Assistant to the Head of Internal Affairs (Mr Julius Tallow) and the golden boy of Jessica Whitwell (Security Minister), to whom he’s apprenticed, and Rupert Devereaux (Prime Minister). As I mentioned before in my review for Book 1, in the life ruled by magicians, you could never be safe because of the ever-paranoid-and-jealousy of the magicians, especially in the higher ranks of government; that’s what happened to Mandrake. Being very young, people around him were constantly waiting for him to slip.
Meanwhile, the “commoners” who unsatisfied with the arrogancy and privilege life of magicians, had aroused many problems for the government, by stealing the magical goods from magicians and used the goods against them. They were called themselves “The Resistance”, consisted of people who had some resilience to magic or some unusual talents like feeling the aura of magical goods and seeing the demons. One of the main character in resistance was a young girl named Kitty, to whom Bartimaeus had crossed path in Book 1. It was Mandrake’s job to take care of the Resistance thefts, which was proven not to be a simple one, and his failure of getting more insight into the group was starting to endanger his position. Besides of that, there were also other attacks by unknown monster, probably sent by the Resistance, or perhaps by another group who wanted to overthrow Britain, he had no idea.
Mandrake had to summon Bartimaeus once more, although he had promised not ever to sent for Bartimaeus again in the end of Book 1. Bartimaeus himself was definitely not pleased to see Mandrake, but because of his usual elegant curiosity and “conscience”, Bartimaeus was embarked again into another adventure that involved higher politics, his own memory of his ancient past in Prague, betrayal, tomb exploit, magical staff, and skeleton pogoing around London. We also will meet other colorful demons summoned by other higher magicians.
This time, the viewpoints of the story were not only from Nathaniel’s and Bartimaeus’, but also from Kitty’s. There were also revelation of Kitty’s past, to make us understand why Kitty chose Resistance as her career. Nat is as ambitious, arrogant, and self-indulged as ever; Bartimaeus is as witty, sarcastic, and troublesome, and we come to love him even more; while Kitty is also a unique character, frustrated and angry of his group and of the magicians. The first parts are rather slow-paced, but after the skeleton was surfaced, you will ready to leave your task aside to find out what will happen to Nat, the adorable Bartimaeus, and Kitty.
The unsatisfactory thing of Book 2 is that Bartimaeus is not given enough part, and I want more of his hilarious footnotes. After finished Book 2, I think there are a whole lot of things left to tell, and I can’t believe this series will be ended by Book 3. In the end, I believe it will be one-on-one duel between Nat and Kitty.
Buy this book, and enjoy. Can’t wait to buy the third book: Ptolemy’s Gate (funny cover!) This time, Bartimaeus holds nothing, but there are some lights and yellow dots come up from his hand. Ptolemy is an astronomer, so the next magical things probably will be related to astronomy.