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Ptolemy's Gate

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Ptolemy's Gate
First edition (UK)
AuthorJonathan Stroud
Cover artistDavid Wyatt
SeriesBartimaeus trilogy
GenreChildren's, Fantasy novel
Publication date
September 2005
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint (Paperback & Hardback)
Pages515 pp (first edition, Hardback)
Preceded byThe Golem's Eye 
Followed byThe Ring of Solomon 

Ptolemy's Gate is a novel of alternate history, fantasy and magic. It is the third book in the Bartimaeus trilogy, written by British author Jonathan Stroud. It was released in the United Kingdom in September 2005, and in the United States in December of the same year.


Three years have passed since the magician Nathaniel (otherwise known as John Mandrake) helped prevent an attack on London that would have been cataclysmic for its magicians and commoners. 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 fomenting among the commoners. Increasingly distracted with other affairs, Nathaniel is treating Bartimaeus worse than ever.


Set in an alternate version of London, England. The year is approximately 2011, as the book takes place three years after The Golem's Eye, which was estimated to take place in 2008 due to the timing of Gladstone's death.

Magical objects, spells and places[edit]

  • Ptolemy's Gate - a kind of reverse summoning, a method that allows a human to enter the 'other place' where spirits dwell

Principal characters[edit]


  • Nathaniel/John Mandrake
  • Ptolemy
  • Jessica Whitwell
  • Jane Farrar
  • Quentin Makepeace
  • Harold Button
  • Sholto Pinn
  • Carl Mortensen
  • Helen Malbindi
  • Clive Jenkins
  • Rebecca Piper
  • Bruce Collins


  • Kitty Jones
  • Clem Hopkins
  • Nicholas Drew
  • George Fox
  • Rosanna Lutyens


  • Bartimaeus, a fourth level djinn in service to Nathaniel
  • Ascobol
  • Cormocodran
  • Mwamba
  • Hodge
  • Faquarl
  • Nouda
  • Purip
  • Fritang

Plot summary[edit]

The British Empire is falling apart. Many commoners are unhappy with the current government, though none of the commoners claim responsibility for the status quo. The magician's demons are being assaulted by the children's natural abilities to see and resist the demons. Some commoners advocate slow reform, while others advocate open revolt, while still others say the commoners should learn how to summon spirits of their own to combat those spirits belonging to the magicians. Ptolemy's Gate concludes with a council of surviving magicians and important commoners trying to work out a government that is beneficial to everyone.

Kitty Jones eventually unearths the reason why humans and spirits are locked into the endless cycle, that humans do not understand the nature of djinni and summon them only as powerful, but dangerous, slaves, not equals. This theory is confirmed by Bartimaeus who states that his greatest master, Ptolemy, was the only human who treated his servants as equals and tried to build a bridge between djinni and humans. However, Ptolemy misguidedly believed many others would follow in his footsteps.

England's domestic turmoil has taken its toll on John Mandrake. Mandrake is friendless and constantly watched by his numerous enemies. In the three years since The Golem's Eye, there have been several attempts on Mandrake's life. His years as a high-ranking government official have made Mandrake merciless, and he treats all of his servants cruelly, especially Bartimaeus. However, events in Ptolemy's Gate shatter Mandrake's confidence in what he has become. The transformation from Mandrake to Nathaniel is much more rapid than the one from Nathaniel to Mandrake. Nathaniel drops the name John Mandrake altogether, as well as the fear of others knowing his true name, humbly telling it to Kitty, with whom he seems to have struck up a newfound friendship, and boldly proclaiming it to the spirit Nouda. With the end of Mandrake, Nathaniel becomes all that Ptolemy hoped to be. Nathaniel willingly allows Bartimaeus to share his body to combat Nouda and his army of hybrids, using Gladstone's staff, a fusion that forever bridges the gap between humans and djinn. However, at the last moment, he dismisses Bartimaeus and then sacrifices himself to destroy the spirit Nouda. This incident was similar to what Ptolemy did in the moments before he died.


Ptolemy's Gate has received the following accolades:

  • Starred Kirkus review (2006)[1]
  • Starred Booklist review (2006)[2]
  • Cybils Award (Speculative Fiction) (2006)[3]
  • Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel (2006)[4]
  • Corine Internationaler Buchpreis for Kinder- und Jugendbuch (2006)[5]
  • American Library Association's (ALA) Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults (2007)[6]
  • ALA's Notable Children's Recordings (2007)[7]


  1. ^ "Ptolemy's Gate". Kirkus Reviews. 15 December 2005. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Ptolemy's Gate". Booklist. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  3. ^ "The 2006 Cybils Awards" (PDF). Cybils Awards. 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Jonathan Stroud". SFADB. n.d. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Ptolemy's Gate (Bartimaeus, #3)". Goodreads. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Ptolemy's Gate: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book Three | Awards & Grants". American Library Association. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Ptolemy's Gate | Awards & Grants". American Library Association. 21 October 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2021.