Review: Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud

Posted 6 July, 2011 by Amanda / 6 Comments

Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus, #3)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Borrowed from boyfriend
Read: 6/18-6/22/2011
In six words: Long build up to sad ending

Jonathan Stroud  Website | Twitter |  Facebook
Bartimaeus website
Amazon: hardback | paperback
Book Depository: hardback | paperback
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Book Order:
1. The Amulet of Samarkand
2. The Golem’s Eye
3. Ptolemy’s Gate 
4. The Ring of Solomon

Why I Started this Series and General Thoughts on this Book

I believe I started this series because I was in desperate need of something to read, and Kyle had already finished the first book.  Originally, I bought the trilogy for him as a gift because he has a fondness for YA fantasy books.  And yes, even though there is a fourth book, it is not a continuation of the first three books; rather, it is about Bartimaeus at an earlier part of his “career.”  I have so many mixed feelings about Ptolemy’s Gate.  The last 200 pages made for a pretty cool story, even if it did have a sad ending.


Three years have passed since the magician Nathaniel helped prevent a cataclysmic attack on London. Now an established member of the British Government, he faces unprecedented problems: foreign wars are going badly; Britain s enemies are mounting attacks close to London; and rebellion is fomentingamong the commoners. Increasingly imperious and distracted, Nathaniel is treating Bartimaeus worse than ever. The longsuffering djinni is growing weak and vulnerable from too much time in this world and is nearing the end of his patience.

Meanwhile, Nathaniel s longtime rival Kitty has been stealthily completing her research on magic, demons, and Bartimaeus s past. She has a daring plan that she hopes will break the endless cycle of conflict between djinn and humans. But will anyone listen to what she has to say?

In this glorious conclusion to the Bartimaeus trilogy, the destinies of Bartimaeus, Nathaniel, and Kitty converge once more. Together the threesome faces treacherous magicians, a complex conspiracy, and a rebellious faction of demons. To survive, they must test the limits of this world and question the deepest parts of themselves. And most difficult of all they will have to learn to trust one another.
from Goodreads

A More In-Depth Look

The pacing was atrocious.  It took me 300 of the 500 pages in this book before I finally got to the point where I could not put Ptolemy’s Gate down.  That, I think, is why I’ve rated this lower than the previous books.  It takes so long to get to the “good part” of the book, and while Stroud’s writing style is rich and full of life, it has the tendency to distance me, not pull me in.  This proves to be a poor effect, because there was not a strong enough plot to hold my interest for long, and the best character by far is Bartimaeus himself, but he is not always our narrator.  The only thing that kept me reading was knowing that Kyle would want his book back eventually, and it would just be easier if I finished it before giving it back.  The last 200 pages almost nearly rewarded me for sticking with it, even if there were parts of it that were easy to predict.  But then the ending made me sad, and I hate endings like that, even if there is a valid reason behind it.

What I did like about this book, though, was that we finally got the back story of Bartimaeus’s favorite guise and master — Ptolemy — who had been referenced consistently throughout the previous two books.  Ptolemy’s Gate was a brilliant conclusion to this trilogy, as it managed to combine all the previous threads into one.  And I really really like the way it was tied together and what happened toward the end.  Nathaniel finally — finally — became less of an annoyance, and really grew into the young man that Bartimaeus caught glimpses of in the very beginning.  All these elements, plus the last 200 pages, saved this book from a lower rating, but they weren’t enough to catapult it back.  Ptolemy’s Gate is probably best served as a “read a little before you go to bed” kind of book.  That is all fine for Kyle, as that’s the way he reads, but I’m more the type to devour pages into the wee hours of the morning, stuffing my mouth with plots and just generally making a big mess.  In that sense, this book was frustrating for me.

As with past books, this one was narrated by multiple people: Bartimaeus in 1st person with his witty footnotes that I’ve come to love and look forward to, Nathaniel in 3rd person who is dreadfully annoying for most of the series but redeems himself at the end, and Kitty in 3rd person who provides the necessary push to bring Bartimaeus and Nathaniel together.

You Might Enjoy This Series If…

I originally bought this trilogy for Kyle after finding it on a “What to read after Harry Potter” list.  But, as I’ve said before, it’s not really comparable to HP unless you break it down to the very basics: YA, fantasy, magic.  If you like those elements, and you are a fan of the rich writing style used by Stroud, you will probably enjoy this series.


Filed under: ESR: 5, Review: Amanda, YA, ,


6 Responses to “Review: Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud”

  1. It took 300 pages to get into the book! AGH! How did you do it, Amanda? I would have given up.

    I don’t really read much fantasy, and I’d never heard of this series before, so I guess I’m out of the loop, but I can’t say I feel bad because this is probably not for me.

    did Kyle get through them? Did he like them? I think it is always interesting to hear from a guys perspective on YA.

    Sorry this book was a bit frustrating for you. I’m the same way. I want all consuming reads. LOL

    • I’m stubborn and stupid? The ending was ALMOST worth it.

      Kyle hasn’t gotten through this book yet. I am interested to hear his take on it, though, because I think that it might work better for his style of reading. And you know, Missie, I think he commented on my review of the first Bartimaeus book… something about agreeing with me though he would have probably rated the book higher.

      Oh, and I’ve tried to get Kyle to write a guest review for me, but he refused. :(

  2. You’re a better reader than I am–after 50 pages, if something doesn’t hook me, I put it down. So, I think one will be a pass. Thanks for the honest review!

    • Probably more stubborn, I guess. A book has to be incredibly boring or terrible before I put it down. I was also supposed to read this book within a certain time frame so that I could give it back to the boyfriend, and that probably also helped me to plow through it.

      The sad thing is that Bartimaeus is a FABULOUS character, and I really liked him.

  3. Felicia

    Oh you are a stronger gal than I —I have given a book 100 pages but 300? WOWZER. Great and fair review!