The Golem's Eye

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The Golem's Eye
The Golem's Eye.png
AuthorJonathan Stroud
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesThe Bartimaeus Trilogy
GenreChildren's, fantasy novel
Publication date
1 January 2004
Media typePrint (paperback & hardback)
Pages570 pp (first edition, hardcover)
Preceded byThe Amulet of Samarkand 
Followed byPtolemy'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.[1][2] The first edition was released by Miramax 1 January 2004 in the United Kingdom. 6 million copies have been sold in 36 countries.[citation needed] It was a New York Times best-seller in 2004.[3]

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.

Principal characters[edit]

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
  • 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[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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

Alternate history[edit]

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, centered 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.


Two years after the end of the first book, Nathaniel (alias John Mandrake) is an apprentice to Jessica Whitwell in the Ministry of Internal Affairs where his personal and professional goal is to find and crush The Resistance. His initial attempts to use lower level Spirits are unsuccessful since these Spirits are not as resourceful or quick in their thinking to infiltrate The Resistance. Feeling pressure from his superiors, Nathaniel reluctantly summons Bartiaemus, a fourth level jinni. Bartimaeus is shocked and angry about the summons and reminds Nathaniel of the bargain where Bartimaeus would not divulge Nathaniel's name to any human or Spirit, and in turn Nathaniel would not call Bartimaeus into service again. A new deal is struck where Bartimaeus agrees to a six week term of service and Nathaniel promises to not have Bartimaeus's name referred to fight in the North American war.

The parallel plot is of Kathleen "Kitty" Jones and the Resistance. Kitty's story begins when comes into contact with the Resistance when she and her best friend Jakob Hyrnek are attacked by a Spirit under the command of Julius Tallow. Jakob suffers extensive skin burns leaving him permanently marked. But Kitty is just knocked unconscious due to her natural resilience to Spirit magic. Outraged, Kitty pursues legal options in an attempt to bring justice to her and Jakob's cause against the advice of both her family and Jabok's family. At court, just as it would appear that the case would be decided in her favor, Julius Tallow arrives at the last minutes and lies causing the judge to fine Kitty £600, an amount which it too much for her to pay. As she leaves the court house, she is approached by Mr. Pennyfeather who promises her he will give her the money if she agrees to a meeting with him.

As she meets Mr. Pennyfeather at a coffee shop, he tests her natural resilience by having some of his henchmen attack Kitty to confirm she can sustain magical attacks without much harm. Mr. Pennyfeather explains that his wife was killed many years ago by a magician when she rejected the magician's advances. From that point on, Mr. Pennyfeather has had grudge against the ruling classes and his group called the Resistance, are responsible for several minor thefts from the magicians. Convinced by the dream to overthrow the government and the unjust ways in which it operates Kitty joins the group.

One night, as Kitty and two of her accomplices steal a few magical items, a large and unknown entity causes massive damage to several businesses owned by magicians by walking in a straight line through their stores, including Sholto Pinn's establishment. Six Night Police officers (aka Werewolves) are killed and due to the destruction of such a prominent shopping district the senior officials are tasked with providing standing patrols to apprehend the culprit/Resistance.

As part of a government task force, Bartimaeus a Spirit named Queezle discuss their past friendship and adventures. Queezle says she is scared because the assailant attack has the power to destroy Spirits without much thought or regard. Shortly after, Queezle is killed and Bartimaeus tracks the attacker to British Museum. In the ensuing battle, the identity of the attacher is ascertained but Bartimaeus is knocked out. In a high level meeting between Henry Duvall, Julius Tallow, Jessica Whitwell, and Nathaniel, Bartimaeus reveals that a golem is responsible for the attacks. Duvall insists that this is the work of the Resistance and walks off to talk with the Prime Minister to lobby for expanded powers at the expense of Whitwell, Nathaniel, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Mr. Pennyfeather, recognizing that he is getting old and wanting one last grand adventures, organizes the Resistance for a very daring raid on the tomb of William Gladstone to steal several powerful/valuable items. As the party of six Resistance members breaks into the underground vault, Kitty accidentally discovers the bodies of six other people within the tomb. Distressed and worried about who/what killed the six men, Kitty urges Pennyfeather to leave before something happens. Overcome by greed, Pennyfeather ignores her warning and opens the sarcophagus. This causes an afrit named Honorius, who is trapped in the bones of Gladstone (and thus cannot change shape) attacks the party and kills four of them. Kitty and a boy named Nick escape with Honorius vowing to find and kill them as he was tasked with guarding all of the treasures in the tomb and kill anyone who breaks in.

To investigate the golem, Nathaniel is instructed by Jessica Whitwell to travel to Prague undercover since that is where the tales of golems originate and the last golem fought Gladstone's forces more than 110 years ago. Nathaniel's cover blown and he manages to escape, with the help of Bartimaeus, but a British spy manages to give Nathaniel a name, Kavka, the magician who created the golem. Kavka is irritated to see Nathaniel and Bartimaeus and informs them the creating a second golem will cost him his life but that does not matter since he does not have any hope of seeing his children alive (his children are held captive in a British prison). Nathaniel promises Kavka that his children will be freed if helps unmask the traitor in the British government.

Kavka is not convinced by this promise but lacking options and a desire to see his children free, ask Bartimaeus if magician and British government official as young as Nathaniel can be trusted. In his trademark sardonic and cheeky attitude, Bartimaeus replies the Nathaniel is less corrupt than other magicians he known and worked with.

As the question of Kavka the Mercenary arrives demanding parchment from Kavka which will animate the golem. In the struggle which follows, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus escape but the parchment is destroyed leaving Nathaniel with no proof that a golem is involved except for the word of Bartimaeus.

Kitty evades Honorius, taking Gladstone's staff with her, thinking it not a powerful magical object but just a status symbol desired by magicians.

As Nathaniel arrives in London, the government is in almost a panic as Honorius has been on attack and the bodies of four of the Resistance are discovered in Gladstone's tomb. Upon further investigation, Nathaniel discovers that a Kathleen "Kitty" Jones is the same "Kitty" who was responsible for attacking him two years earlier. He goes to her house to apprehend her but Kitty escapes.

Meanwhile, Bartimaeus's instructions are to destroy Honorius. Bartimaeus and two other Spirits manage to force Honorius to jump into the Thaems apparently defeating him.

Quentin Makepeace meets with Nathaniel in secret with concerns regarding Henry Duvall and promises Nathaniel information which will help him bring the Resistance to justice. Acting on this information, Nathaniel tasks Bartimaeus with capturing Jakob, Kitty's friend in order to use Jakob as bait.

Clem Hopkins tells Kitty that Jakob has been taken and unless she turns herself in, he will be killed. As Kitty approaches the safe house where Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, and Jakob are waiting, she is attacked by the werewolves of the Night Police.

When Nathaniel sees that Kitty will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers, he orders Bartimaeus to save her while he will bring Jakob shortly. As Kitty is saved, Nathaniel is arrested by Jane Farrar. During his questioning as all of the senior government ministers have abandoned Nathaniel, Nathaniel takes a last-minute gamble and appeals to the Prime Minister, asking for the benefit of doubt due to her previous service and the fact the Bartimaeus helped defeat Honorius.

While waiting for Nathaniel to bring Jakob, Bartimaeus and Kitty have a heated argument/conversation about who has it worse. Bartimaeus, in the form of his favorite master/friend/favorite human, Ptolmey from 140 BCE, talks about history and how empire come and go with same patterns repeating over and over again. Bartimaeus is bitter about Spirits being enslaved and not having better treatment at the hands to magicians. These statements strike Kitty as she feels that the commoners have had the same treatment and wishes to break the cycle.

Nathaniel takes Jakob to Kitty and arranges makes a promise. He will release the two of them in exchange for Glandstone's staff. Unknown to Kitty, this meeting is observed by the government officials and government does not plan keep its part of the bargain. Once Gladstone's staff is in Nathaniel's hands, he may have let Kitty and Jakob go, but with the Prime Minister watching, he is forced to order Bartimaeus to arrest Kitty.

Kitty temporarily manages to outsmart Nathaniel but as she and Jakob run into an ally with Nathaniel and Bartimaeus in pursuit, Honorius reappears intent on killing them all. As this progresses, the golem comes along causing Honorius to change focus. Honorius manages to break some of the golem's defenses but Bartimaeus comments that while this is good, it will not be permanent since a golem is made of earth and Spirits are made of fire; earth will overcome fire.

As the golem and Honorius battle, Nathaniel tries to unlock the power of the staff and use it to strike the golem.

Honorius attacks the golem directly destroying himself in the process.

Nathaniel manages to unlock the staff but his attack on the golem is too powerful, causing a recoil/backlash which causes Nathaniel to hit a wall and fall unconscious. The golem walks to Nathaniel to break his neck but Kitty recalls a comment made by Bartimaeus that a golem can only be destroyed if the magical parchment in its mouth can be removed. Kitty risks her life and manages to take the parchment out causing the golem to freeze in place.

As Nathaniel is still unconscious, Bartimaeus says Kitty is free to go since he was tasked with holding her. Kitty leave with Jakob without the staff. When asked why she won't take it, she says she does not want something which so connected with magicians.

Shortly thereafter Nathaniel is woken up by Bartimaeus. Nathaniel starts to think that he managed to defeat the golem on his one but is corrected by Bartimaeus that it was Kitty who saved him by sacrificing herself as the golem incinerated her.

As the parchment which animates the golem disintegrates in front of Nathaniel, the golem starts walking towards its creator/master. Henry Duvall is revealed to be the one who controlled the golem and arrested.

While release Bartimaeus, Nathaniel voices his doubts that Duvall acted alone. He suspects that there is more to the story and cannot investigate further since there are no more leads.

In their final conversation, Bartimaeus called Nathaniel "John Mandrake". Nathaniel thinks Bartimaeus is going a good thing by using the adopted name but Bartimaeus does not have the time to point out that the innocent and honorable boy Nathaniel is almost gone making it easy for "John Mandrake", the ruthless and cold-hearted magician to take over.

Kitty and Jakob hide out with Jakob's family's for a few days after which a fake passport for Jakob is forged so he stay with some other relatives. He asked Kitty to come along but she refuses saying she wants to study the history of magic, Spirits, and magicians so she can help end this tyrannical system. She is moved to this action by recalling what Bartimaeus said about how history repeats itself; where cycles and patterns go over and over again.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Memmott, Carol; Minzesheimer, Bob (8 September 2004). "Young adult books". USA Today. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  2. ^ Devereaux, Elizabeth (14 November 2004). "Fantasy Series: Of Trolls and Men". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  3. ^ "BEST SELLERS: September 26, 2004". The New York Times. 26 September 2004. Retrieved 24 February 2016.