Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud

Here we take a mini break from my poetry selections. I just finished The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. This book is in the same world as Stroud's earlier Bartimaeus trilogy (e.g The Amulet of Samarkand, 2003), but is a stand alone book. Whereas the earlier trilogy was set in the fantasy equivalent of the 19th century England, this book happens in ancient Israel during the reign of King Solomon. In Stroud's fantasy world there are powerful magicians who do magic by summoning djinni and other Mideastern style magical beings, and forcing them to be their slaves. In this book the most powerful magician of all is King Solomon who wears a ancient ring that allows him to control many of these powerful magical creatures. One of the djinni, Bartimaeus, is more mouthy and sarcastic than the others and is always getting in trouble. He somehow gets in league with a young girl warrior, sent by the queen of Sheba to kill King Solomon and steal his ring. It is an audacious quest, but Bartimaeus is an audacious djinni. Stroud's writing is so clever and snappy. It is very intelligent humor, complete with footnotes. (don't miss the footnotes, they are the funniest part.) Even though you know how it must end, he takes so many twists and turns getting there that it doesn't feel predictable. Be warned that Stroud is not shy of having minor characters killed in ghastly ways, but it is all done tongue in cheek. In a way I like this book even better than the first trilogy, because the main character of that trilogy started out pretty snotty (he got better as the series progressed). You don't have to have read the first group to enjoy this. This is a great choice for the kind of kids, boys or girls, who are voracious fantasy readers age 11 and up. (398 p.)

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