AirToob Lightning

I can really recommend this cracking 3-part thriller by Jonathan Stroud. Some of the best fiction nowadays seems to be written for young people but is intended to be enjoyed by people of all ages, and that certainly includes me in this case.

The flavour of these books is a mixture of Philip Pulman's superb Victorian thrillers featuring Sally Lockhart (starting with The Ruby In The Smoke), combined with the sardonic humour and intelligence of Terry Pratchett, together with a dash of J.K. Rowling. Jonathan Stroud is no imitator, however - this is unique stuff.

The three books form an almost continuous, multi-layered story, set in an alternative London, with a back-story stretching back to ancient Egypt. One of the things that I really like is the multiple viewpoints from which the story is told. The ancient djinni Bartimaeus has a wonderfully sardonic and (perhaps justifiably) conceited outlook on life, and tells his part in the proceedings in both first and third persons, with many entertaining footnotes. Nathaniel is a young magician who summons Bartimaeus. Initially oppressed himself, he becomes part of the oppressive Establishment and is then gradually reformed through much painful experience. The third main character, the feisty Resistance leader Kitty, doesn't really take the stage until later, her importance and quality only gradually dawning on the reader.

Adults familiar with the recent British government will pick up a whiff of sharp political satire (although it doesn't intrude on the story), and people familiar with history will get an extra kick from Bartimaeus's unique outlook on events.

The movies, when they come out, will have a hard job living up to these excellent books. The books deserve the best quality movie-making - I hope that they get it.

[More links on the Bartimaeus Trilogy]
[10 best books for treating Harry Potter withdrawal]
[Some of my additional suggestions]
[My books page]