Recently I read The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. The book is part of the Bartimaeus Sequence (formerly the Bartimaeus Trilogy) and was published in 2010. Despite being published after the first three books, the events take place long before them. In my “Must Read Books for Children and Young Adults” post (which you can read here) I mentioned the trilogy. In truth, it had been so long since I had read them I forgot a great deal of the content, however the one thing I did remember was that they had captivated me. The Ring of Solomon is no different and I found it very difficult to put the book down once I had started..
The book centres on a Djinn named Bartimaeus who is clever, cunning and hilarious…there are some really good examples of comedy in this book, most of which come in the form of footnotes to relay Bartimaeus’ inner thoughts and explanations. He has been summoned by a cruel master called Khaba and must do his bidding until such a time that Khaba frees him or, well, Khaba makes a mistake and Bartimaeus eats him.
One day while dealing with bandits in a desert, he comes across Asmira, an assassin sent by the Queen of Sheba to kill Solomon of Israel. Why? Solomon has in his possession an all powerful ring (yep, you got it, it’s the ring of Solomon) which can summon a legion of spirits at any one time from the Other Place (the place where Djinn and other spirits come from). But she isn’t the only one planning and plotting and a hidden conspiracy is in action. Bartimaeus finds himself stuck in the middle of it all and as the blurb says, “He’s going to have to use every ounce of magic in his ever-shifting body to wriggle his way out of this one”.
The book is told from two perspectives. The first is Bartimaeus in first person which is quite simply a show-stealer. He has a brilliant voice and is a terrific character and one that I truly enjoyed spending time with. As for the other perspective, that comes from Asmira but is written in third person. Again, the read is enjoyable but simply can’t compare to Bartimaeus.
Is there anything I would change about this book? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. For instance the blurb lets on that there will be a greater role for a certain group of characters than there actually is and at times the ending seemed a touch inconsistent. Still though, it’s a mighty fine book. I couldn’t help being overcome by a sense of nostalgia as I read it because Stroud manages to create such a unique world and it was a pleasure to revisit it. Not only was it great to revisit it, I’m now tempted to go back and read the original trilogy…and I have a feeling they are even better than The Ring of Solomon!
Rating: 9/10. This one flitted between an 8 and a 9 but eventually I gave it the higher number based on nostalgic purposes.
Age Group: 13+. Fantasy readers will love this book