Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ptolemy's Gate - Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Stroud's Ptolemy's Gate is an awesome, gripping and fitting end to the Bartimaeus trilogy. The ending had me in tears: I was delighted that Nathaniel, who is now 17, has remembered once again that he was a human being not just a soulless efficient machine, which is what he'd become in The Golem's Eye !

What I find interesting and exciting is that for most of the trilogy Bartimaeus is the most sympathetic character we encounter, in spite of the fact that he's commonly referred to as a "demon". Stroud's subversiveness in this matter is endlessly fascinating to me; Bartimaeus has been routinely "employed" by his many magician masters to carry out all sorts of immoral actions, and yet I have far more sympathy with him than I do with Nathaniel.

Kitty turns out to be a very resourceful young woman - not only does she learn magic with the aid of an older magician who is not involved in the government, so that she can summon Bartimaeus to talk with him and learn more about his master Ptolemy (pronounced Toll-em-ee), whom Bartimaeus often disguises himself as when he is on Earth (a Djinni has no form at all when it is in the Other Place, which exists as a spirit dimension). Kitty senses, from the conversations/encounters she has with Bartimaeus in The Golem's Eye) that Ptolemy is important to Bartimaeus, and she wonders why he would want to appear in Ptolemy's form so often (Bartimaeus admits it's his preferred form when he's on Earth) when Djinn supposedly hate their magician masters. What she learns from Bartimaeus of Ptolemy is astonishing - and what she does with that knowledge is still more astonishing...

I think that the way Stroud ends Ptolemy's Gate is sufficiently open-ended that he could tell more stories featuring Bartimaeus, but I'm not sure that he will.

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I watched the final three episodes of Buffy's season 6 and the opening four of season 7 today. I find Willow's descent into grief and murderous magic at the end of season 6 fascinating - and her vulnerability at the start of season 7 is touching. I love it when Buffy goes to talk with her when she's trying to heal herself after her encounter with the extra-icky Gnarl, and Buffy shares/gives Willow her strength in healing herself. I love it that Dawn is no longer an annoying kid but actually scary (to Spike, at least !) and effective at research. Buffy's conversations with the different kids in "Help" are really well done - I love the way she simply sits and listens to the silence of the young man whose brother has signed up with the Marines until he's ready to tell her why he's there. Oh and Giles on horseback is SO sexy (and I'm not even that interested in horses !)

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