I love a good pain in the ass character. There’s just something about obstinate characters that makes my heart leap with joy, my friends. Bartimaeus, the djinn from the series of the same name by Jonathan Stroud, is a first class pain in the ass,much to my delight. The Ring Of Solomon is a prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy, although it’s listed on goodreads as Bartimaeus number 4.
The year is 950 BCE. The setting is Jerusalem. Solomon is king and ruler over all the land with his great ring of power. Fresh from killing his master, Bartimaeus thinks he’ll have a few hundred years to chill out in the other dimension. Imagine his chagrin when he’s brought back immediately by Solomon and is forced to guard the desert from brigands under the harsh eye of magician Khaba. MEANWHILE, young palace guard Asmira is in the service of the queen of Sheba who has a favor to ask. You see, Solomon has threatened Sheba — if they don’t pay tribute then there will be war and there’s no way Sheba can stand up to that. Asmira is asked to kill Solomon and bring his ring back. Asmira and Bartimaeus’s paths cross and the two form a plan to kill Solomon — however the odds are impossible.
Readers, The Ring Of Solomon contains FANTASTIC world building. I love when books take place in the Middle East, and the whole alternate history thing going on. There’s a complex magical system at work, where magicians can use spirits to do their bidding, but have to follow certain rules. FYI, I love when magic isn’t this all powerful, all perfect thing and there are checks and balances, that makes it more real to me. The complex system of spirits was fascinating too, from djinn, marids, foliots, and imps each inhabiting different planes of the spirit world. It is SO interesting.
I will say that I thought The Ring Of Solomon started off rather slow and a bit boring. I was kind of confused as to what was going on and why. However, it gets much better and I soon became very engaged. You don’t have to read the prior three books in this series by Jonathan Stroud to be able to dive into this book. Instead, The Ring Of Solomon stands alone perfectly, and well you all should know how I feel about standalone books by now. (HINT: I love them.)
The Ring Of Solomon definitely has deeper meaning. It’s got questions of what it truly means to be free. How do we define a slave? Is it someone who is literally owned by another person, or someone who willingly puts their life on the line for a master without a second thought. We learn that not everything is exactly as we are told it is nor how it appears to be. And you guys I love my children’s literature served up with a side of intellectualism.
ALSO THERE ARE FOOTNOTES. They are often hilarious and go on these random tangents. I thought it added a special touch to The Ring Of Solomon.
Reading The Ring Of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud has made me much more excited to pick up The Amulet of Samarkand, which is on my Project Fill In The Gaps list, now that I have a glimpse of what I am in for. As an adult, I loved this book. I think precocious children will love this book too, especially if they have a sense of humor and a tendency towards being stubborn.
Disclosure: I borrowed this from my local library.
This is a CYBILS book.