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 !


Popular posts from this blog

Man-Eaters of Kumaon - Jim Corbett

Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5

This one is decidedly a classic, so there is little point in reviewing this book. It is a beautiful one, without doubt. 
Personally, I avoid any form of entertainment (books, movies, plays, anything) which features cruelty - either directly or tacitly - towards animals (I have not yet seen any of the Planet of the Apes movies, Ant Man was uncomfortable too). So deciding to read this book took a certain degree of convincing. 
Much credit goes to the beautiful cover of the book. This one is an Aleph Classics (co-founded by David Davidar of The House of Blue Mangoes fame, and Rupa Publication) edition. In terms of sheer elegance, the cover design is unmatched.

The palette concept of jungle green coupled with the late afternoon sun creates an ambiance even before you delve into the pages. I picked out the book from a thin pile on a shelf in the little HigginBothams book-store near Charing Cross in Ooty, one biting winter evening (more on that later), such w…

Higginbothams of Ooty

It took us some time to decipher that the name of the crossroad was Charing Cross. After all, it is an unexpected name for an Indian crossroad in Tamil Nadu, and the mildly opinionated chap driving us to our hotel had a heavy accent. Charing Cross turned out to be a triangular enclosure, with an imposing fountain (we later discovered that it was named the Adam's Fountain; it is three-tiered, the second one topped by four very colourful cherubs). Since we had arrived in the middle of the afternoon in the thick of winter, the roads were thronging with people and vehicles. Shops were bustling and business appeared brisk. Our driver skilfully negotiated the traffic as we passed woollens shops, gift houses, eateries, groceries and mobile-phone shops. 
We returned to the market later in the evening, after having deposited our luggage. Both my husband and I had been fending off a nasty bout of flu and needed to restock our now near-empty medicine pouch. Charing Cross in the evening (thi…

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…