Wednesday, September 08, 2010

This is Relevant to My Interests

"One magician demanded I show him an image of the love of his life. I rustled up a mirror."

Bartimaeus in The Amulet of Samarkand (2003)

Three years ago, I shilled a trilogy of books on this very site - that three being the few books I would recommend to just about anyone, anywhere, anytime. They are The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye and Ptolemy's Gate and till date, not one person who checked them out on my word fails to become a fan. It's an archetypal "A Boy and His X" story (and in this case, a djinni) with an overarching bildungsromanic soul set in a country at the brink of a class revolution - all wrapped up in a very palatable pita of sass, snark and historical in-jokes guaranteed to make you laugh out freaking loud. The relationship between the lonely young magician and his 5000-year-old demonic slave is certainly one of the most outstanding examples of friendship in literature I have ever read, especially in the third and final book. This is a criminally underrated set of novels, people, and I think that's a crying shame because it concluded so much more gracefully (and I think more satisfyingly) in contrast to the Harry Potter series' finale and its hideous epilogue. The Bartimaeus Trilogy cannot escape comparison to the Potter books; both being set in England, are about magicians and are meant for young readers. Nathaniel, Barty's master, can be most aptly described as the poorly adjusted, power-hungry cousin of The Boy Who Lived - and is all the more fascinating for it.

Just a couple of days ago, I discovered the existence of a prequel,

Ring of Solomon
The Ring of Solomon - gasp!

I was completely blindsided, having no idea or impression at all that Jonathan Stroud had plans for another Bartimaeus novel, let alone was working on it! And what more, he had already finished it and the hardcover will hit bookstores at the end of this year! While I cannot scrounge up any info on the book's exact UK release date, the American edition was set for launch on the 2nd of November (yes Jen, with a cover that matches the ones you have).

As Bartimaeus boasted on numerous occasions, he once served Solomon and that one of his many colourful names is Sakhr Al-Jinni. If you're familiar with the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights folk tales, Sakhr was the spirit who stole Solomon's ring after conning it out of the possession of one of his wives by shapeshifting into Solomon's likeness. The spirit then ruled the kingdom for forty days on Solomon's throne while the real king wandered the country as a vagabond. On the fortieth day, Sakhr threw the ring into the sea and it was snapped up by a fish. That fish was then caught by a fisherman and was given to Solomon as wages (the dethroned king having taken up service with the fisherman). With the help of the recovered magic ring, Solomon was restored to power and Sakhr was either imprisoned in a bottle and thrown into the sea or was tasked by Solomon to build a mosque, depending on which version of the lore you read. Both eventualities were alluded to by Bartimaeus in his tongue-in-cheek footnotes. This is another reason why I love the Bartimaeus Trilogy; it was so well-researched and richly written.

ring of solomon prequel
The US cover.

So, my guess is The Ring of Solomon would be the "true story" behind the Sakhr and Solomon myth, told from Bartimaeus' point of view. Of course, I wonder if the tone of the book would fare for the worse without Nathaniel to play the straight man to Bartimaeus' comedic insolence...

Nah. Gimme the damn book now.

P.S. There's also a graphic novel adaptation of The Amulet of Samarkand, apparently. I don't have much hope for the film of the book though now that Miramax have folded. Personally, I don't think the books can translate well into any other medium due to the nature of their narrative.

P.P.S. I'm rereading the original trilogy in anticipation of the new book. Can't wait.

Won't be waiting for the paperback,
k0k s3n w4i


Jen said...

Best news I've heard today. I'll join you in rereading the trilogy again too. I've missed Barty.

février said...

i'm rereading this too! I AM SO GETTING THIS BOOK. when's it come out? :D i like the uk cover better. US version looks shit and comes out on 2 nov. do you think it'll be out in the UK by the time my birthday comes around? OMG. LOCKE LAMORA SEQUEL 3RD BOOK IS COMING OUT IN NOVEMBER. :)) my birthday is gonna be AWESOME

Anonymous said...

omg you had just made me squeal (mentally) hehe. =) i'm so getting this. birthday's on november, this would be perfect.

been an addict to this some years ago. still a fan. will start re-reading it tomorrow. thanks for sharing!

Phoebs said...

Oh the trilogy covers are nicer o_o can I borrow yours after you're done? :D it'd probably still be great without Nathaniel

k0k s3n w4i said...

Jen: yeah, children fantasy isn't like what it used to be. all we get these days are twilight clones :(

beve: you're in the UK so you'd definitely be getting the book earlier than me anyhow (if you're okay with getting the hardcover, that is). i've been waiting forever for the next locke lamora book too. and the next kingkiller chronicles book. and the next song of ice and fire book... aaargh

Nani Othman: you're welcome. i squealed (mentally) too when i first found out about it. seems there's a lot of november babies here, haha.

Phoebs: some would argue that it'd be better without nathaniel. shaki's hoping that the whole book would be written entirely from bartimaeus' first person perspective.

Anonymous said...

i thought i'd die when nat did. DX i like him so much! but since this is a prequel..i doubt if there'd be nat anywhere in the story..but i sort of hope there'd be mentions of him somewhere.. hehe.