Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus #3)
'Ptolemy's Gate' is the climax of the 'Bartimaeus Trilogy' in which a long-standing conspiracy comes to fruition and Bartimaeus, Nathaniel and Kitty face a final enemy which threatens them all.
TITLE: Ptolemy's Gate
AUTHOR: Jonathan Stroud with Simon Jones (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Listening Library
LENGTH: 501 pages (15 hours 32 minutes)
AGE: Young Adult
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
PTOLEMY'S GATE wraps up the Bartimaeus Trilogy with an examination of the relationship with between magicians and their summoned slaves, with the hope that sometimes one djinni and one human can make different choices.
There have been lingering doubts about who was ultimately behind the magicians' troubles in the first two books, and now these mysteries come to fruition. It answers several questions and wraps up hanging plot threads related to strange actors and mysterious benefactors. There's a new storyline related to lingering resistance from commoners and John Mandrake's current role in government. I'm not sure if it introduces and resolves anything, but it does continue several things so smoothly that they feel new even though the seeds were sown before. As the final book it's a very satisfying ending which makes me want more in the series. Technically the prequel fulfills this desire as it was written after the main trilogy, so that just depends on an individual reader's order as to how the experience feels. Bartimaeus is still the main narrator, with third-person sections separately following Kitty and Nathaniel. Additionally, some sections follow Bartimaeus in the past with the eponymous Ptolemy of Ptolemy's Gate, showing the rapport between the djinni and the long-dead boy whose face he still wears.
It would not make sense to start here, as this is the conclusion of several larger discussions of the enslavement of the djinni and other spirits by magicians, the seeming inescapable imbalance of that dynamic, and the class interactions between commoners and magicians as part of their general pattern of enslavement, oppression, and colonialism. The frequently-mentioned but never shown "American Campaign" fits into this as a repeated reminder that the magicians are using their power to expand British colonial rule abroad while they mistreat commoners at home. It's a cohesive narrative in a way that I didn't understand as a kid but find myself appreciating as an adult.
The ending is heartbreaking, it fits the story and I don't think it could have gone another way while being true to what came before, but it made me simultaneously sad and hopeful for the world built in this trilogy.
Graphic/Explicit CW for classism.
Moderate CW for cursing, confinement, violence, police brutality, torture, slavery, war, colonization, murder, suicide, child death, death.
Minor CW for ableism, fatphobia, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, kidnapping, fire, rape.