13 February, 2011

Book Review: The Ring of Solomon

Title: The Ring of Solomon
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Humor
Page Count: 398
Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 4.5 out of 5. I love this cover! The only thing that prevented me from giving it a 5 was the fact it is a teensy bit spoilery, if you take it literally. Which I tend to do. (THIS COVER is also cool, but the gargoyle is rather grotesque.)

Inside flap:
It is 950 B.C.E., and King Solomon rules Jerusalem with a steely hand; a hand on which gleams a magic ring of immense and unforgiving power. Solomon has just begun to work on his marvelous temple, charging Khaba, a formidable magician in his royal court, to oversee its construction. The workforce is an ill-behaved bunch of demons, a particularly unruly djinni names Bartimaeus among them. True to form, Bartimaeus promptly gets kicked off the temple project and assigned the even more miserable task of hunting bandits in the desert. There he crosses paths with Asmira, a highly skilled and loyal captain of the Queen of Sheba's guard, on a suicidal mission to save her country from Solomon's imminent attack. Of course, Bartimaeus has no intention of helping her. That is, until Asmira makes him an offer he cannot refuse . . .

My expectations: High. I LOVE The Bartimaeus Trilogy, and I expected a lot from this prequel.

My expectations were met, and even exceeded in some ways.

About the book: I love Bartimaeus. He is one of the funniest, most endearing characters in the Fantasy books I've read, and definitely the best dijinni. I found the historical setting in this book quite interesting, along with the portrayal of both the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and the whole culture across that area.

The writing style is great--Jonathan Stroud writes well, and as with all Bartimaeus books, the little footnotes that serve as wisecracks are definitely a bonus, even if the reader has to keep glancing down at the bottom of the page. For some authors that would be a drawback, but for Stroud it certainly isn't.

  • Plot:
Fast, and there are several unexpected twists--it never lagged, and the ending wound up everything well.

  • Characters:
Bartimaeus, as I have mentioned, is quite funny. You get a lot of his character in this book, from the dancing hippo (I cracked up at that part) to the banter with his fellow djinni.

Asmira was a determined, and strong girl. She does what she has to do to accomplish her mission. I didn't really like her at the start, but by the end of the book I did. She changes throughout the story, even though it doesn't span that much time.

Khaba is an excellent antagonist. Evil, cunning, and power-driven, he has all the right stuff. Or, rather, wrong stuff. He knows what he wants and he'll do anything from torture to killing to get it, and is a formidable enemy.

  • Setting/Elements:
The setting--historical figures, warriors, demons, magic--is fascinating, and something unique; it's nice to be able to read something that's put in a setting different from a lot of other books.

Other: Violence, (bandits, assassins, etc.), but that's really about it.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely!

-----The Golden Eagle


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never read any of Stroud's books - good place to start?

The Words Crafter said...

Very interesting, and what a take on the story! Is that a phoenix on the cover?!!!

Old Kitty said...

On my list, on my list!! Warriors, demons, magic...!! Yum!! Take care

RaShelle said...

Thank you so much for bringing these books to my attention. Ihave an 11year old daughter and it's hard to find books for her. This sounds like something she'd love. =D

Carolyn Abiad said...

I love Bartimaeus too, but he's a djinn, not a demon. The two things aren't exactly alike, although they do share similarities. :) <3

Lynda Young said...

I haven't read any of his books before. This sounds fabbo so I'll be adding this to my TBR pile. Thanks heaps for the cool review.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I loved the first three books, so now you have me excited for this prequel. Thanks for the review.

David J. West said...

I have been meaning to read some Stroud-like Alex asked-if this is a prequel could I start with this then move on to the Bartimeus Trilogy?

Brian said...

Sounds pretty cool, and yes, I really like that cover too!

Sun Singer said...

I also like the cover and have to agree that that other cover is, well, spooky. Nice review. Maybe I need to start reading fantasy again.


P.S. Happy Valentine's Day.

hosted BES said...

Have bookmarked your blog! It's a good place to get reviews on good books! Cheers!~

The Golden Eagle said...

Alex: Good as any! It's doesn't give away any spoilers from the trilogy that takes place later, and you still get Bartimaeus's character.

The Words Crafter: Yup! :D

Old Kitty: They're certainly factors that would drag me into a story--I hope you get the chance to read The Ring of Solomon!

RaShelle: You're very welcome. I'm glad to be of help! :)

Carolyn: Ack! Yes, you're right about that! I just went and fixed it. Thanks for pointing out the mistake!

Lynda: Stroud is a great author.

You're welcome! :)

Tricia: I was thrilled when I found it in the library--I was missing the humor, and there just aren't other characters like Bartimaeus out there!

You're welcome!

David: Definitely. I read it after the trilogy (obviously) but you could start with this and it isn't part of a series; it could serve as a way of getting an idea of what Stroud's writing is like.

Brian: I love the phoenix bird. It's so colorful!

Malcolm: It's dark, although I do like the gold lettering and the buildings beyond the gargoyle.

Thank you! :)

hosted BES: Hi, there!

Glad someone else is finding my reviews useful. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I have not read any of these but will look for them now.

The Golden Eagle said...

Books by Jonathan Stroud are worth the read!

Jennifer Hoffine said...

I love Bartimaeus also, and the trilogy (but not how it ended). Have hesitated about this book because of that. Glad to hear it's good.

Donna Hole said...

OK, its now on my must read list . .


The Golden Eagle said...

Jennifer: The ending was rather . . . sudden. And different. But I actually liked it. :P

The Ring of Solomon has a very good ending, and it's not like the way the Trilogy ended at all.

Donna: If you do read it, I hope you enjoy it! :)

Hannah Kincade said...

I have not read this series yet. I've had a copy of the first two for years. I need to get on that!