Sunday, March 29, 2009

Review Blog: Trust is the key

Hello friends,

My short span of holidays have ended with a grand 'Euphoria '09', which is our college cultural event. The day had been great every hour being eventful. We received our Practice Material for the 'preparation phase for the reshuffling test.' Reshuffling test can be aptly compared to a compulsive enrollment into the popular reality show 'Fear Factor' (probably that was a little too much).
The test is up in the first week of may and I need to show what I really am, since the past year had been bleak for me. This test would shuffle us into batches based on performance cut-offs and we'd be in those sections/classrooms till sametime next year!
Looking into that short span of holidays, I read a large part of Atlas Shrugged, after which I got a little heavy headed with the work. Hence, I put the book down and picked up some light-reading material. No prizes for guessing.  Ptolemy's Gate.


Book: Ptolemy's Gate
Author: Jonathon Stroud
Genre: Fantasy/Young Fiction

At the outset, this book contains a story weaved using a number of elements. The highlighted ones are politics, history and ambition. As a matter of fact, the broken journey through Atlas Shrugged helped me understand this story better than I would have, have me reading in between lines, words, grasping the true emotions, qualities and other abstract features portrayed in Ptolemy's Gate. 

To start with, Ptolemy's Gate is an apt title for the book, since it completely revolves aroung this 'gate' that connects two different worlds. (I could relate to the earlier versions of The Silent Paradise by Klaus :P ) Ptolemeus was one of the old master's of Bartimaeus, one which Bartimaues had honoured for ever.

The story starts three years after Golem's Eye. Nathaniel (or officially, John Mandrake) is promoted as the Information Minister. The actual beginning is a historical note where Bartimaeus helps his master Ptolemy in escaping death when four assassins attack him one night, sometime in 125 BC. 
The first chapter is a perfect irony, where the strength of Bartimaeus reaches an all time low, where he is trapped under the rubbles of a public lavatory. He has been kept on earth for about two years under the service of John Mandrake, since the master has his own fears of letting his djinni out of grip. London fights a war against the Americans, and don't seem to gain an upper hand at all. This puts John (Nathaniel from now on, please) in difficult political situations. To add to it, the Prime Minister is crazy and holds a party almost every fortnight, and also invites all the council members for all those boring plays by his playwright Quentin Makepeace. The situation between Nathaniel and his demon (one of them, which is Bartimaeus) is tensed.
All the while, Kitty, who is presumed dead by the government is under a hideout and works for a local Inn at London in the name of Clara, and also ends up as an assistant-cum-apprentice for a magician, as Lizzie. During these years, with the help of magicians, she has learnt a great deal about the djinn and other demons(sorry...spirits) and also strives to know about the history of Bartimaeus. She also learns more about The Other Place, and what Bartimaeus has to do with it. 
So the story progresses into where the djinn plan a strike-back against all the earthlings, particualarly Magicians, for enslaving them for thousands of years. It is then, when all the three protagonists come together, and make a difference in their lives, and those of others.

My Rating:

Story 5/5
Jonathon Stroud presents you an excellent story that has a thick plot, which is completely linked to the previous volumes of the series. He also answers several questions from the prequels of Ptolemy's Gate without boring the reader, or deviating from the actual plot. And what more...there is Bartimaeus with his wonderful footnotes, and historic descriptions which give a proper finish to the book.

Characters: 4.5/5
This is the best book in the trilogy as it gives a wonderful ending to the series. Nathaniel and Kitty work on their ambitions throughout the book, and Bartimaeus keeps us entertained with his groans and cribs on how weak he is getting every second.  For the protagonists, good enough. But for the negative part...Makepeace didn't do a very good job, though the characterization of Hopkins as a the most forgetful appearance was innovative. Something that I have come across in no novel. 

Concept: 5/5
Series as a whole, Bartimaeus Trilogy holds good to its name. The whole plot involves Bartimaeus in many ways, apart from the mere fact that the main character summons him every book. The whole concept of Ptolemy's Gate (not the book, the element) is wonderful and original. Besides, equalling this marvellous creation is the idea of djinn entering human bodies and working...all I can say is...FREAKING RAD!!!

Description: 4.5/5
Description has got a very new dimension in this book. The way Jonathon describes The Other Place, well that's amazing indeed. I've not seen any such thing even in the Inheritance Cycle, a series that I had fancied for a while, sometime back. In a nutshell, the author has successfully described the nothingness of a place. Often, description of a place gets bigger as the place is more ornate with different elements, but this one is bland. It's just like the quantum theory in a more comprehensive way. The bland parts were when Nathaniel goes with Barty to the park of some sort....I had to read those narrations more than once to get a clear picture.

Sense: 5/5
Sense, you mean sense? Of course, it's completely sensible. Nothing is out of the box, except for the author's thought process. The story is also constructed to a large extent on human tendencies, and characteristics, which gives a very nice shape on the whole.

End Note:

This is the only book I've completed in my short vacation, and I'm proud of having read it. The story portrays one particualar moral very beautifully: Trust. Trust is what works around in this world. How do you accept that prescription your doctor gives you...? Now, you don't go around looking for his qualification, whether he passed his medical exams by fair means, or cheated...we just TRUST him, and it does work. This is what the author has conveyed, that the humanity is constructed, connected, and now fuctions only on trust, faith and acceptance, qualities one should never abandon, lest he shall never live a good life.

1 comment:

Klaus said...

Hey Sumanth,
Very well summed up review. Trust was a very key moral that was apparent throughout the story of Ptolemy's Gate.
Good luck for your reshuffling test as well.