The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
Fantasy Book Review Children's Book of the Month, December 2010
In October of 2010 Jonathan Stroud released the much-awaited prequel to his best-selling Bartimaeus trilogy. Having just read and thoroughly enjoyed it (the e-book in case you were interested) I can confidently say that The Ring of Solomon is brilliant in two important ways - both as an introduction to the trilogy for those lucky enough to not have already read it (as in they still have a treat in store) and also as a fascinating insight into the past of my – and many other fantasy fans’ - favourite djinni, the irascible, insolent, yet strangely lovable Bartimaeus.
The year is 950 BC and the self-proclaimed master djinni Bartimaeus is to be found causing chaos whilst serving at the court of King Solomon in Jerusalem. But with the arrival of Asmira, an assassin girl sent by the Queen of Sheba, things begin to get even more interesting and Bartimaeus must use all his skill and cunning to not only survive, but also aid Asmira in the theft of the all-powerful Ring of Solomon.
I am going to keep this review pretty simple, short and sweet as all I really need to say is “get it, read it, enjoy it”. However, for those who need a little more persuasion, here is my reasoning.
If I was asked what it was I believed to be Jonathan Stroud’s forte I would unhesitatingly answer that it is his perfect use of humour within his books. There is always a fine line that needs to be trodden when injecting humour into a narrative - too much and it begins to grate, too little and the results can be rather dry. Stroud uses delightfully subtle humour in just the right amounts and his charming mix of wit and sarcasm (used in the main by Bartimaeus) often results in the reader emitting frequent, out-loud bursts of laughter.
Here is an example of a passage that really tickled me in which Bartimaeus explains his preeminent throwing skills, aided by a footnote. Footnotes are a favourite of the author’s and it is within these that the most fun is stored.
‘Like the throwing technique?’ I grinned. ‘Learned it squirrel-tossing with the Mongol nomads*’.
*On quiet nights we’d go down to Lake Baikal with a basket of plump ones each and send them skimming out across the waves. My record was eight bounces, seven squeaks.
The Ring of Solomon: Chapter 26
And then we have the moving and oddly profound relationship between Bartimaeus and Asmira. Generally speaking there is nothing but mutual hatred between the summoned spirits and their human masters but here, as was the case with Nathanial and Bartimaeus previously, Asmira and Bartimaeus form an almost affectionate friendship that has each questioning who and what they are.
In conclusion, the truth of the matter is that Stroud does everything extremely well: dialogue, world-building, humour, plot – all are done with consummate skill. I have said this before but it is worth mentioning again – I firmly believe that those who have worked previously as book editors often become very good authors and Stroud is a case in point. He is able to write books that are effortless to read thanks to an impressive command of words and how they should be structured plus an admirable attention to detail. So, any aspiring authors out there looking for a job to pay the bills while they write – go and get a job as a book editor.
The Ring of Solomon is an excellent fantasy adventure, full of magic, intrigue, excitement and humour. A real must-buy and a perfect Christmas present for readers of all ages.
Jonathan Stroud, as well as being the author of the Bartimaeus books, has written the standalone novels Heroes of the Valley (which I also strongly recommend, read the review here), Buried Fire, The Leap and The Last Siege. Now a full-time writer he lives in St Albans with his wife and two young children.
The Ring of Solomon (Bartimaeus)
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Childrens (14 Oct 2010)
This The Ring of Solomon book review was written by Floresiensis
All reviews for: The Bartimaeus Trilogy
The Ring of Solomon
The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 0
The year is 950 BC and the self-proclaimed master djinni Bartimaeus is to be found causing chaos whilst serving at the court of King Solomon in Jerusalem. But with the arri...
The Amulet of Samarkand
The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 1
When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation...
Have you read The Ring of Solomon?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Ring of Solomon reader reviews
Nathan from Pamilan
Stroud, as expected, has always been very unexpected at storytelling. Even though the book is fun, it does drive in some philosophical content. A very enjoyable book because the pace is just right, Bartimaeus is a big time idiot and a cool demon too, author takes us to palaces, deserts, ancient monuments, smoke filled 'other world'... the list is exhausting. And most of all there is this bond btw. Bartimaeus and the girl, that u can't fail to soak into your skin. This is one of the best books. Truly.
9.8/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Ursula Le Guin
As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and hel...
The Kingkiller Chronicle
"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my l...
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him wh...
Year of the Unicorn
Far from the besieged home of Simon and Jaelithe, in peaceful Norsdale, we meet Gillan, who longs to leave her dull life in a secluded country abbey. But when her wish come...
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her...
The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off...
The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School
When her mother finds her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett is sent to Drearcliff Grange School in Somerset. Although it looks like a regular 1920s boarding school, Amy...
The Lightbringer Trilogy
Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. His strength, wit and charm are all that preserve a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exac...
The Saga of Recluce
LE Modesitt Jr
Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circum...
Raymond E Feist
Crydee, a frontier outpost in the Kingdom of the Isles. An orphaned young boy named Pug becomes a master magician’s apprentice and two world’s destinies are for...
Memory Sorrow and Thorn
A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard--for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dyi...
Enter the kingdom of Lur, where to use magic unlawfully means death. The Doranen have ruled Lur with magic since arriving as refugees centuries ago. Theirs was a desperate ...
The Night Circus
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterl...
The Chaoswar Saga
Raymond E Feist
The Darkness is coming… The Kingdom is plagued by rumour and instability. Kingdom spies in Kesh have been disappearing - either murdered, or turned to the enemy side...
The Toy Sorcerer
Trapped as a mortal in a dimension where human dreams become reality, Alice Towers endures a journey of unmerciful persecution and excruciating self-discovery. Guided by an...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
Stranger of Tempest
Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's prin...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be. Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outs...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...