The Ring of Solomon: Can You Really Say “Bartimaeus Is Back” If It’s A Prequel?

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The Ring of Solomon is written by Jonathan Stroud. It was published in 2012 by Disney Hyperion. It is the prequel to the popular Bartimaeus trilogy. Stroud’s website can be found here.

Genre: Oh, let’s call it Realistic Fantasy. It is set in the real world.

Summary/Blurb:

“It is 950 B.C.E., and King Solomon rules Jerusalem with a steely hand; a hand on which gleams a magic ring of immense and unforgiving power. Solomon has just begun work on his marvelous temple, charging Khaba, a formidable magician in his royal court, to oversee its construction. The workforce is an ill-behaved bunch of demons, a particularly unruly djinni named Bartimaeus among them. True to form, Bartimaeus promptly gets kicked off the temple project and assigned the even more miserable task of hunting bandits in the desert. There he crosses paths with Asmira, a highly skilled and loyal captain of the Queen of Sheba’s guard, on a suicidal mission to save her country from Solomon’s imminent attack. Of course, Bartimaeus has no intention of helping her. That is, until Asmira makes him an offer he cannot refuse…”

~Inside Flap

Cover Art

Passages/Quotes:

Sunset above the olive groves. The sky, like a bashful youth kissed for the first time, blushed with a peach-pink light. Through the open windows came the gentlest of breezes, carrying the fragrances of evening. It stirred the hair of the young woman standing alone and pensive in the center of the marble floor, and caused her dress to flutter against the contours of her lean, dark limbs.

She lifted a hand; slim fingers toyed with a ringlet of hair beside her neck.

“Why so shy, my lord?” she whispered. “Come near and let me look on you.”

In the opposite pentacle the old man lowered the wax cylinder in his hand and glared at me with his single eye. ‘Great Jehovah, Bartimaeus! You don’t think that’s going to work on me?”

~Stroud 5

Blue fires leaped in the center of the magician’s outstretched palm. “Not another second’s delay, Bartimaeus. Tell me what this object is, or I’ll pummel you with the Essence Fist.”

“You’d hit a woman?”

~Stroud 23

This one may contain spoilers, but it’s so good that I couldn’t resist:

“Bartimaeus of Uruk, you first of all. Your crimes are legion. You have caused the deaths of dozens of my spirits, you have spread chaos and disaster across Jerusalem. It was by your advice and through your actions that this girl was able to get access to the Ring. Not only that, you have at all times displayed extraordinary insolence toward my royal person. Your hippo guise—”

“No, no, that was perfectly coincidental! It looks nothing like your wife!”

“—showed appalling disregard for the sanctity of my temple. That was what I was going to say.”

~Stroud 385

Warnings: A tiny bit of swearing, no more than you would find in today’s TV shows. Also contains djinn and spirits and the like. This is heightened by the Biblical figure of Solomon front and center, so I would advise that anyone who has problems with this type of setting and magic not read this book.

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Rating: 5/5

What I Liked:

I love the Bartimaeus books, so when I saw this prequel I knew I would have to read it. And the best thing is that it doesn’t spoil anything from the trilogy, being a prequel, so it’s perfectly fine to read this book first. It does allude to a few things (such as Bartimaeus seeing something and thinking “I’ll have to try that sometime” and then doing that thing in the trilogy), but no spoilers.

The cover is just…gorgeous. I love phoenixes (phoenices?) in general, and this cover is all glittery-holographic-phoenix goodness. I found myself shutting the book at times and just staring at the cover.

A phoenix tea set I found during my travels this summer.

The wit of this book is fantastic. The type of humor that Stroud writes is the humor I love, so reading a book that contains it brings me great pleasure (it’s similar to the humor from Entwined, but a bit more…sophisticated?).

The plot is fast-paced (but not too fast), the suspense is just right (Stroud uses POV change to its utmost effect), the characters are multi-dimensional…I could go on.

What I Didn’t Like:

I expanded on the Warning section because I myself felt a teensy bit of discomfort (Stroud’s magic is “harder” (darker?) than, say, the magic of Harry Potter, and putting someone such as Solomon in the mix felt a bit…wrong), but I still greatly enjoyed the book.

Overall Review:

The Ring of Solomon is the perfect book for those who either want to read more of the world of the Bartimaeus books or want to get started. It’s genuinely funny, well-written, and has a great cast of characters. I highly recommend this book and the trilogy if you want to read something entertaining.

Coming Up Next: The Midnight Tunnel by Angie Frazier

One thought on “The Ring of Solomon: Can You Really Say “Bartimaeus Is Back” If It’s A Prequel?

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