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Aug 2010
The Golem's Eye - Jonathan Stroud - Corgi, 2005
* * *
How do you stop a sequel suffering from a law of diminishing returns when you have introduced the major characters, the world and the magical, political and social systems with which you will be working? One way is to turn the premise of the original on its head, and that is what Jonathan Stroud does here. In The Amulet of Samarkand, our teenage protagonist Nathaniel and the delightful djinn Bartimaeus rescued the government from the sinister Simon Lovelace - now we learn that the rule of magicians is corrupt and unjust, so Lovelace's rebellion could even have been a good thing. It's a brave approach but there is always a danger that you will throw the baby out with the bathwater, diluting the things that worked in the original for the sake of novelty. Unfortunately that's what's happened in this book.
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May 2008
Storm Front - Jim Butcher - Orbit, 2005 / The Amulet of Samarkand - Jonathan Stroud - Corgi, 2004
* * * / * * * * *
I am going to review these two together because both feature magic and wizards in a contemporary setting, though otherwise they couldn't be more different. One is a straightforward grafting of magical imagery and rules onto the Philip Marlowe detective / thriller genre, competent but not very exciting. The other is a funny, dark, imaginative treat.
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