The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud

Posted March 28, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

The Golem's Eye

The Golem's Eye

by Jonathan Stroud

Series: The Bartimaeus Trilogy #2
Publisher: Hyperion on August 23, 2004
Genre: Fantasy
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

The second adventure in the Bartimaeus trilogy finds our young apprentice magician Nathaniel working his way up the ranks of the government, when crisis hits. A seemingly invulnerable clay golem is making random attacks on London. Nathaniel and the all-powerful, totally irreverent djinni, Bartimaeus, must travel to Prague to discover the source of the golem's power.
In the ensuing chaos, readers will chase a dancing skeleton across London's skyline, encounter the horror of the dreaded Night Police, witness a daring kidnapping, and enter the Machiavellian world of the magician's government. Eventually, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus have to go head to head with the fearsome golem before the surprise identity of his master is finally revealed.


It’s such a different experience listening to the Bartimaeus trilogy rather than reading them.  Neither is bad, they’re just different.  I’ve read these books a couple times in hardcopy, and while I’ve listened to The Amulet of Samarkand a couple times… this is the first time I have listened to The Golem’s Eye In my memory, I liked The Golem’s Eye least of the series (I like The Ring of Solomon best) and never really felt the need to go on when a wave of nostalgia incited me to pick up something from my high school years.  I’m not sure if it’s the audiobook or the time that has passed since my last read, but I definitely like The Golem’s Eye more than I used to.

Somehow, over the years, I had forgotten there was an epic grave robbery?!

Don’t get me wrong – generally speaking, I am not a fan of desecration.  Even though we historians do a lot of that, well, it’s incredibly disrespectful to the dead.  But any sort of adventure sequence in a fantasy book… I’m all in for something like that.  Especially because I remember not liking Kitty in my initial reads (I was hooked on Nathaniel’s walk between good and evil) and as I’m re-reading it, I’m realising… Kitty’s storyline in The Golem’s Eye is awesome There’s great pacing and a bunch of adventure.  I still don’t love her character particularly, but she gets into a lot of interesting corners and I’m noticing a lot of nuances to her character that make her more complicated than I remember.  So if I’ve ever preached about not liking Kitty… I retract it.  I retract all of it.

Nathaniel, aka John Mandrake, continues to be a frustrating disappointment.  I liked the bit about the hat in Prague, of course, but I just… I want so much more from his character.  But here’s the thing, and here’s one of the ways I can tell that I like a book when I’m waffling… when I am more concerned about the characters’ moral dilemmas than their actual characterization… they’re well-written.  So while I’m disappointed in Nathaniel as a person, I’m not disappointed in him as a character.  The Amulet of Samarkand got me invested, and now I’m rooting for him to make the right choices.  Which he does not make when I want him to.

The Golem’s Eye falls a bit short in the plot department.

The golem itself appears early in the book, but for most of the middle and until just about the very end, it disappears and the characters follow other leads, do other things.  I personally found it a bit frustrating to feel like there was a complete departure from the plot until a last minute wrap up.  While I understand that all the intervening events make the wrap-up possible, they just didn’t seem as cohesive as they could be.  For that rambling, roundabout solution, this book loses a bit of points in plot for me.

For anyone who read The Amulet of Samarkand, please know that The Golem’s Eye is not a dealbreaker.  In fact, as far as second books go, it’s rather good.  There’s no filler slump here, not really.  Each Bartimaeus book is a self-contained story, and the worlds of London and Prague are honestly fantastic.  The djinn himself amuses me to no end.  The first three stories do create an arching plot (Nathaniel’s journey) so I recommend reading this one to get the whole story.  It’s good, it’s just not as good as the rest of the books in the series.  But I still recommend it!

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★


Do you prefer trilogies to have self-contained stories, or for each book to be simply part of a whole?  Personally, I think I like to have both – a self-contained story and an overarching plot.  I find a lot of trilogies only do an overarching plot – has that been your experience as well?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

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