Ptolemy's Gate
Jonathan Stroud
Hyperion Books, 2006

Ptolemy's Gate is the third book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy; the first was The Amulet of Samarkand, and this series should be read in order -- so go read that first.

Ptolemy's Gate picks up a few years after the end of The Golem's Eye, and things have changed... a bit. Mandrake has risen to the rank of Information Minister, and is writing war propaganda and suppressing riots among the commoners. Bartimaeus is still his captive, and is starting to wilt from his long entrapment in our world. And Kitty Jones is still around, and still working to cause trouble.

England is in a bit of trouble, with the American colonies starting to revolt, and that means a tense time in the higher levels of the government. Mandrake and the other ministers are facing revolt in the streets, and this time it's not a small block of magical terrorists, but pretty much everyone. And more and more of them are becoming resilient to magical attacks, or gaining the power to see demons, or who knows what else...

And Bartimaeus has become fairly useless. Not just unhelpful, that's expected, but actually too weak to complete his missions. A very prolonged stay in our world, together with an unending series of punishing tasks, has rendered him weak and even more sullen than usual. Despite this, Mandrake is still reluctant to set him free, even temporarily, for no good reason. Well, except that Bartimaeus holds the key to destroying him, but that's hardly new.

Kitty is back... not that she ever really left. She's spent a few years as a kind-of-sort-of apprentice to a doddering wizard. This has not really helped her much, as the wizard is quite certain that neither commoners nor females are able to learn magic. And if maybe they are able to learn just a little bit (enough to help with the boring fiddly bits that he's getting too old to mess about with), they certainly don't need any deep knowledge of demonology, no matter how many odd questions they might ask about certain ancient Egyptian spirits.

Oh, and then there's Ptolemy, Bartimaeus' old master (very old, back in the days of the pharaohs), and the only human he ever really liked. Throughout the book we have flash backs to learn exactly what happened back then to impact Bartimaeus so deeply. Of course, being dead for a few thousand years puts a damper on his role in the plot, but it's an engaging story nonetheless.

All in all, this is a quite satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. The major characters are more fully developed, and some of the happenings we've been hoping for/expecting finally come about. Overall the story is perhaps a bit more fast-moving and engaging than in the previous book, without loosing the spurious griping and multitude of plot-lines that make the stories so much fun. The ending is a bit of a surprise, so I won't say too much here, but suffice to say that Kitty, Mandrake, and Bartimaeus all become a bit more human and a bit more friendly, and all the right people end up on the right side for at least a little bit. There's not really much more to say, except that if you've enjoyed the previous two books, you will surely enjoy this one.

While this is officially the last book in the original trilogy, there is a prequel that was published after Ptolemy's Gate, The Ring of Solomon.

ISBN: 078681861-1
AR Book Level: 5.7