Thursday, April 7, 2011

Top Shelf, Selection Nine--The Bartimaeus Trilogy

It's taking me a long time to count down the books on my top shelf. One of the reasons for the delay is that I'm waffling. Although I'm trying to keep my selection at ten, I have eleven favorites in mind. I occasionally think I should knock a selection off my list, but first, I decide to reread it, just to make sure. So that's what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks, rereading The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud. And now I'm sure--it definitely belongs on my top shop, especially if the definition for that is a book that I'll reread multiple times.
In fact, through my rereading. I came to the conclusion that Bartimaeus is one of my favorite literary characters. He's ironically funny, sassy and smart, brutally honest and a bit of a romantic--although, he wouldn't like you to think that. There's a bit of tragic hero about him as well, considering that he's a slave.
If you haven't read The Bartimaeus Trilogy--and you really should--it takes place in a modern day London, controlled by magicians. That's what the magicians want people to believe, anyway. In actuallity, the magicians secretly enslave djinn--or demons--to do their work, which creates the illusion that they're performing magic.
The plot of the trilogy sees these magicians scheming and conniving with and against each other for--what else?--power. Bartimaeus and his magician/master, Nathaniel, end up tightly woven in the political and magical machinations, and Nathaniel does much of the power grabbing himself. Bartimaeus acts as a--usually unwanted--voice of stingingly clear reason.
The chapters of the book are written in alternating viewpoints. The Bartimaeus chapters are first person with footnotes when Bartimaeus, who's capable of multiple thoughts at once, interjects an explanation or snide remark. I laugh out loud at many of these, even after multiple readings.
The end of the book is always a little sad for me, because, truth be told, it's a bit abrupt. But mostly I'm sad becaue I'm not yet done spending time with Bartimaeus. Even Nathaniel inches his way into my heart by the end.
Until recently the only way to revisit my friends would be to read the trilogy over again. But I've just heard that a new Bartimaeus book is out. I'm not sure how that happened without my being first in line, but now that I know, I'm off to the bookstore to buy it. Right now.