Skip to main content

The Golem's Eye - Jonathan Stroud



Well, Stroud sure has a very endearing way of treating his characters. I finished The Golem's Eye a little before lunch today and though there were times in the book when I felt like things were slacking a bit, in the end, I was filled with the same warmth and snorting-smile-to-self as had happened at the end of The Amulet of Samarkand. It was a good story and even better story-telling. 

Perhaps the latter supersedes the former. 

The plot isn't exactly genius, if you discount the use of detailed mythology and historical facts, which, on the other hand, is spot on. I like the way Stroud weaves through his characters and actions, more than trying to build up unnecessary potboiler-suspense. The book benefits from the firmly established characters of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus and some other side characters, and the add-ons to their existing layers of personalities appear well-thought of and disconcertingly real. The opening pages of the book were absolutely riveting, but in all fairness, any scene consisting of Bartimaeus is like unexpectedly finding ice-cream in the fridge. At times though, the flow did seem to stumble, especially, when the Resistance took the stage. In a world where everything was apparently structured - albeit in a malignant, tarry way - Mr Pennyfeather and his incohesive gang seemed almost painful to read about. Barring these sections, there were delightful phases ( I personally loved the James Bond-ish Prague episode) on and off. 



Besides the key protagonists, the one entity which has claimed a very exalted position in my scrap-book of cool characters is Honorious ! Nothing morbid about it please; in fact Stroud has outdone himself in describing the afrit and its exploits are about as interesting as Bartimaeus', though plainly due to very different, sickening reasons. To my mind, he is almost like Batman's Joker ! 

Ad then there is Kitty. I have had people telling me that they absolutely loved her. I liked her too, but not enough until the tomb incident, after which my luke-warm feeling towards her changed to utter respect. Talk about building strong female characters. She is every bit a Lara Croft with less glam and a real backstory. 

And where do I begin with the eternal duo of Nat and Bartimaeus. The former disgusts me about as much as I seem to enjoy Bartimaeus. The djinni's tongue-in-cheek demeanour is of course a constant source of joy, though this time around, there are also glimpses of its soul and conscience. Reading about Bart always reminds me of those rare people we all know of who grin and bear things so well, that after a pint you wish they would stop and share a bit of their burden. In Bartimaeus, I see a good, honest, highly intelligent mind, put to mostly unworthy, petty causes beyond his control and its ability to take that all in stride. Maybe, thats what most of us humans are anyway. Nathaniel on the other hand, seems filthy in comparison, though deep down I know he is a good lad. Besides his physical transformation, he still seems a child, albeit a prodigious one. It is an unlikely partnership that I'm not very happy about, but the only solace is that neither party is outright evil.

There now. I am getting emotional !

Moving on to clinical criticism, the language of the book is another reason why I loved it so much. The parlance is modern and casual. In fact, its simplicity while describing something other-worldly is truly amazing and worth emulating. For instance, the description of the British Museum incident is an outstanding example of how to give a first-hand account of things almost factually, and letting the readers grow a picture in the mind. 

This being the second book in the trilogy, I am looking forward to start on the final installment, maybe a couple of weeks later though. Till then, I can imagine the little, dark-skinned boy in a wrapped skirt smirking at the floppy-haired Mandrake !

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 books to read when you are depressed

Books are handy weapons to stave off blues - be it the dregs of the Sunday evening or a nasty bout of flu. When you are depressed, it takes herculean efforts to shake off the feeling. And I'm not even talking about the more severe, clinical form of depression. I can't get myself to pour myself a glass of water the day after Diwali; on Fridays on the other hand, I am the epitome of eternal sunshine. For such moody, dull days, these top 10 books are the surest way to dust a little sparkle in your life.
1) Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog): This is Jerome K. Jerome at his absolute best. It was published some 130 years back and is still capable of eliciting raucous laughter. It is the honest journal of three young, bumbling flatmates and their dog on a river cruise. Look out for some meandering, pedantic pages, but they offer some relief from the relentless humour. 
2) James Herriot'sDog Stories: If you love animals (and dogs, in particular), this is the ultimate…

List#1 The Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From

So I stumbled across this blog The Broke and the Bookish quite by chance (actually I was going through another brilliant blog Fourth Street Review, which led me to TBB). They have an interesting section for Top Tens, and this time it was The Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From. I'm not sure if I can name ten, but let's see here...



Alistair MacLean: Give me a warm-hearted, yet cold-demeanoured, taciturn, multifaceted gentleman, who is also a juggler with words, and a plot set in a crippled ship in hostile waters or a ice-floe or on ragged mountains, and the only other thing I'll ask for is a cup of tea to read it with.

James Herriot: I love animals. Enough said. No, but really, Herriot is the reason I took Library as my preferred choice of 'activity' at school.

John le Carre: God, its depressing to read a le Carre. But its right up there with MacLean. There's something hypnotic about his work and there have been phases when I've read nothing but …

I am currently reading...

The Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This is proving to be a very empowering read, which I believe was the whole point of the book anyway. For those judge a book by its cover (which is also pretty badass), it really doesn't seem to even skirt the edges of feminism. At its crudest, it is a collection of stories and their analyses to help rediscover what it means to be a woman. If it sounds redundant, then it goes to show howo much we need this book. 
I must say, books of this kind are not up my alley. It feels too verbose (even by my standards) and the bluntness induced by my utter worldly view of things makes it really difficult for me to penetrate the exuberance of being a woman, as noted in the book. I am just three chapters down, so it wouldn't possibly be wise to quote a favourite right now, but La Loba seems very ethereal. The whole concept of some force (our own, presumably) that can join broken, littered pieces, is deeply appealing. 
Newspapers a…