Jonathan is the author of the bestselling Bartimaeus trilogy, as well as standalone novels Heroes of the Valley, Buried Fire, The Leap, and The Last Siege. Jonathan worked as a children's book editor before becoming a full-time writer. He lives in St Albans with his wife and two young children.
Gr 6 Up-Fans of Stroud's "Bartimaeus Trilogy" (Hyperion) will cheer the return of the sarcastic, chatty, and mischievous djinni in this prequel. Or perhaps this should be termed a pre-pre-prequel as the setting is an alternate version of biblical times during the reign of King Solomon, where magicians command djinni and Solomon rides herd over the known world due to his possession of an all-powerful ring that causes everyone to cower before him. The Queen of Sheba, aware that Solomon is preparing to disrupt her country's frankincense trade due to her refusal of his multiple marriage proposals, sends her most trusted guard, Asmira, to kill Solomon and steal the ring. Meanwhile, Bartimaeus has been humiliated because of his misbehavior and forced to work for Solomon's henchman, Khaba, on his new temple. After an amusing incident in which Bartimaeus is caught in the form of a hippo while illegally using magic to lay stones for Solomon's temple, he is sent to hunt other creatures who are disrupting trade routes. He encounters Asmira, traveling to Jerusalem under an assumed identity to accomplish her mission. How Bartimaeus ends up as her servant, and what they discover about the truth of Solomon's power, makes this a delightful and fascinating book, and it's likely to bring new fans to the original series. Bartimaeus is a wonderful creation, with his constant storytelling digressions delivered in the form of footnotes. But the new character, Asmira, is equally well rendered, with her keen ability with daggers providing her with much-needed self-defense. Definitely a must-purchase for most libraries.-Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In this exciting prequel set in ancient Israel, Stroud presents an early adventure of his sharp-tongued djinn, Bartimaeus. King Solomon has risen to greatness due to the unparalleled power of his magical ring, but having had his marriage proposal rejected by the queen of Sheba, he now appears to be threatening her kingdom with destruction. Young Asmira, the fiery captain of the queen's hereditary guard, is sent to Jerusalem to assassinate the great king and steal the ring. Meanwhile, Bartimaeus, as sardonic, egotistical, and mouthy as ever, perfectly capable of "devouring [an] old magician and departing his tower with a burp and a smile," is currently controlled by the wicked Khaba, one of Solomon's court wizards, and is bitterly unhappy with his lot. When djinn and would-be assassin team up, complex court intrigues come to light and spectacular magics are unleashed. Although the Jerusalem of 950 B.C.E. is not quite as enthralling as was the London of the original trilogy, this is a superior fantasy that should have fans racing back to those books. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.