The Golem's Eye
|Series||The Bartimaeus Trilogy|
|Genre||Children's, fantasy novel|
|1 January 2004|
|Media type||Print (paperback & hardback)|
|Pages||570 pp (first edition, hardcover)|
|Preceded by||The Amulet of Samarkand|
|Followed by||Ptolemy's Gate|
The Golem's Eye is a children's novel of alternate history, fantasy and magic. It is the second book in the Bartimaeus trilogy written by British author Jonathan Stroud. The first edition was released by Miramax 1 January 2004 in the United Kingdom. 6 million copies have been sold in 36 countries. It was a New York Times best-seller in 2004.
The book and series are about the power struggles in a magical dystopia centred in London, England featuring a mixture of modern and ancient, secular and mythological themes. The series has been described as a darker, more political and morally complex version of Harry Potter.
The book takes its name from the cyclops-like eye of the golem, a magical artefact that, along with an animating parchment, activates the golem.
Like the rest of the Bartimaeus Trilogy, The Golem's Eye is set in somewhat modern-day London in an alternate history in which magic is commonplace and magicians are an accepted part of society; in fact, most magicians are in positions of power. They comprise the government, and commoners are treated as inferior. The main character is Nathaniel, a magician who works for the government in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. His (unwilling) partner is the wisecracking spirit Bartimaeus. Together they embark on a quest to discover the secret behind the commoners' resistance to magic and the mysterious beast that is stalking the city of London. The beast is revealed to be an invulnerable clay golem created by a coterie of magicians in an attempt to discredit and undermine the government.
Many of the characters have names of biblical persons or historical literary, scientific or political figures, but not in biblical or historical contexts. Most such persons have been transmogrified into members of the elite ruling class of magicians.
- Bartimaeus, a mid-level djinn and servant to Nathaniel
- Queezle, female demon friend of Bartimaeus
- Honorius, an afrit occupying Gladstone's bones, guarding Gladstone's tomb
- Kathleen "Kitty" Jones, mid-level member of the Resistance
- Terence Pennyfeather, leader of the Resistance
- Jakob Hyrnek, childhood friend of Kitty Jones
- Verroq, a mercenary of great physical strength and stature
- Clem Hopkins, member and betrayer of The Resistance
- Nathaniel (alias John Mandrake), junior magician in the Security Ministry of the government, and chief protagonist
- Henry Duvall, chief of the Night Police and commander of the golem
- Jane Farrar, assistant to chief of police
- Rupert Devereaux, Prime Minister of Britain
- Gladstone, a powerful dead 19th century British magician
- Jessica Whitwell, Minister of Security, Nathaniel's boss
- Quentin Makepeace, a British magician playwright and behind-the-scenes plotter
- Julius Tallow, Minister of Internal Affairs
- Harlequin, a British government spy stationed in Prague
- Kavka, a master Czech magician in Prague, creator of the golem
Organisations and unnamed characters
- The benefactor (aka Quentin Makepeace) to the Resistance
- The Resistance, an organisation attempting to overthrow the magicians' government
- Magician's Council, the city council of London
- Night Police (werewolves), the main law enforcers of the city
Magical objects, spells and places
- Seven planes, somewhat like 'dimensions': the first plane is that of earthly existence, in which all humans dwell. The higher planes may be inhabited by spirits only, and only spirits can normally see into them. The more powerful the spitrit, the higher the plane on which it can exist, and see into. Magicians can see into the first few planes using special devices.
- Staff of Gladstone, casts lightning bolts upon incantation; can destroy even very powerful spirits
- Golem's eye, clay in the form of an eye which when inserted into the forehead of a golem, allows one to see through the eyes of the golem, and control it
- Other place, a kind of dimension invisible and inaccessible to humans, where spirits normally dwell when not enslaved to a magician
- Animation parchment – placed in golem's mouth, in conjunction with a golem's eye, animates a golem
- Golem, a large homunculus made of clay and animated by means of a parchment (spell) and golem's eye. While not strictly a magical object, a golem is created by magic and immune to magical attack. Any such attempt is likely to result in a backlash that injures or kills the attacker
- Amulet of Samarkand, a magical amulet named for the ancient city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, which makes the wearer invulnerable to magical attack
- Vigilance spheres, eyes in the sky used for tracking and spying, though it isn't clear whether these are magical or mechanical objects
- Black Tumbler, a spell that covers victim with smoke and flames, leaving him/her maimed or disfigured
- Seven-League Boots, boots that allow the wearer to take seven-league strides, thereby attaining great speed
The stories (of which this is one of four sequential episodes) are set in an alternate history, the universe for the stories. The events take place in London, England and Prague, Czechoslovakia. Magic has partly displaced technology as the means of social progress. In an incongruent mix of modern and antiquarian technologies, Britain has jets but their most modern ships are civil-war ironclads. The Roman Empire survived another 1500 years until the middle of the 19th century, spanning at least central Europe.
A second empire, centred in Prague, arose after conquest of the Romans by Britain at that time.
The events, except the prologue, are set in approximately the current day. The only date reference for the trilogy is in this, the second book, which states that Gladstone has been dead 110 years. The historical figure British prime minister William Gladstone died in 1898, so the timeframe of the second novel is 2008, and that of the first novel is two years before, i.e., 2006. The books were published in 2003 and 2004, so the author had written a (slightly) future history.
The author here creates a fictional dystopia strangely reminiscent of pre-revolutionary France, or perhaps WWII occupied France, incorporating a 'resistance', internal government factions vying for power, and using the ancient Jewish fiction of the Golem to personify the insidious and pervasive powers of 'secret police' and state control.
- Memmott, Carol; Minzesheimer, Bob (8 September 2004). "Young adult books". USA Today. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
- Devereaux, Elizabeth (14 November 2004). "Fantasy Series: Of Trolls and Men". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
- "BEST SELLERS: September 26, 2004". The New York Times. 26 September 2004. Retrieved 24 February 2016.