The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus #2)
When a seemingly invulnerable clay golem begins making random attacks on London, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus must travel to Prague to discover the source of its power Meanwhile Kitty and the Resistance attempt their most audacious plot yet…robbing the beloved magician Gladstone’s tomb in Westminster Abbey. London is now in an uproar; the golem is still loose and the released djinni is wreaking havoc. Returning from Prague, Bartimaeus is sent to deal with the djinni, while Nathaniel attempts to capture Kitty and retrieve the staff.
In the ensuing chaos, listeners will chase a dancing skeleton across London’s skyline, encounter the horror of the Night Police, witness a daring kidnapping, enter the Machiavellian world of the magician’s government, and find Kitty and Bartimaeus coming to an understanding.
TITLE: The Golem's Eye
AUTHOR: Jonathan Stroud with Simon Jones (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Listening Library
LENGTH: 562 pages (16 hours 31 minutes)
AGE: Young Adult
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
Nathaniel, growing into his new identity as John Mandrake, summons Bartimaeus once more when a strange force begins smashing through buildings and the Resistance steps up their efforts. It introduced a new storyline around the golem, and a whole new backstory for Kitty and the Resistance. It wraps up some things related to Nathaniel's previous encounter with them, but doesn't close it off completely. The mystery of the golem's origins and the specific person controlling it are introduced and resolved. A few things are left for later, since it's ambiguous as to whether the golem was part of some broader effort to destabilize the current government in some way, either to take it down or just to change the faces in power.
Nathaniel has changed somewhat, having been shaped in the intervening two years by working in the government and getting logistical support (but still little to no emotional support) from his new master. There's a scene where Bartimaeus remarks on the changes in him. Bartimaeus is his usual sardonic self, descriptive and witty, making the best of his resumed slavery and forced corporeality. Kitty joins the rotation of perspectives, and is a welcome addition.
The backstory is explained enough that someone could probably start here and have the book make sense, but part of the point is the changes wrought in Nathaniel and how things have developed since the first book, so some broader connections would be missed by readers who didn't read the first book.
In keeping with the idea that various magics have been around for a long time, but the British version in particular is a legacy of conquest and colonization, there are mentions of an American campaign against what are implied to be the native peoples of that continent. Additionally, the golem is of Jewish origin, and Czech magic becomes specifically relevant. Nathaniel is slowly becoming inculcated into the classist, colonialist mindset of a British magician, and is not very open to Bartimaeus's perspective on the matter.
I always get stressed out by Kitty and Jacob's run-in with a magician, and this re-read was no exception. I like this book and I'm appreciating a lot of the commentary on colonialism in a way that I didn't track when I was a kid reading this.
Graphic/Explicit CW for ableism, classism, child abuse, fire/fire injury, gore, death.
Moderate CW for xenophobia, physical abuse, violence, injury detail, medical content, chronic illness, war, colonization, police brutality, slavery, murder.
Minor CW for antisemitism, fatphobia, sexual harassment, drug use, car accident, suicide.