Excerpt from Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ptolemy's Gate

The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3

by Jonathan Stroud

Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud X
Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2005, 512 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2007, 512 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Nothing. The courtyard was empty. The wall below was sheer and smooth, its stones picked out by moonlight. The boy listened to the quietness. He tapped his fingers on the sill, shrugged, and turned inside.

Then the fourth assassin, clinging like a thin black spider to the stones above the window, dropped down behind him.

His feet made the noise of feathers falling into snow. The boy heard; he twisted, turned. A knife flashed, swiped, was deflected by a desperate hand-its edge clinked against stone. Iron fingers grappled at the boy's neck; his legs were knocked from under him. He fell, landing hard upon the floor. The assassin's weight was on him. His hands were pinioned. He could not move.

The knife descended. This time it met its mark.


So it had finished as it must. Crouching above the body of the boy, the assassin allowed himself a breath-his first since his colleagues had met their ends. He sat back on his sinewy haunches, loosed his grip upon the knife, and let the boy's wrist drop free. He inclined his head in the traditional mark of respect to the fallen victim.

At which point the boy reached up and plucked the knife from the center of his chest. The assassin blinked in consternation.

"Not silver, you see," the boy said. "Mistake." He raised his hand.

An explosion in the room. Green sparks cascaded from the window.

The boy rose to his feet and tossed the knife upon the pallet. He adjusted his kilt and blew some flakes of ash from off his arms. Then he coughed loudly.

The faintest of scrapings. Across the room the golden chair shifted. The cloak draped over it was nudged aside. Out from between its legs scrambled another boy, identical to the first, though flushed and tousled from many hours of hiding.

He stood over the bodies of the assassins, breathing hard. Then he stared up at the ceiling. On it was the blackened outline of a man. It had a kind of startled look.

The boy lowered his gaze to the impassive doppelganger watching him across the moonlit room. I gave a mock salute.

Ptolemy brushed the dark hair from his eyes and bowed.

"Thank you, Rekhyt," he said.


1

Times change.

Once, long ago, I was second to none. I could whirl through the air on a wisp of cloud and churn up dust storms with my passing. I could bore through mountains, raise castles on pillars of glass, fell forests with a single breath. I carved temples from the sinews of the earth and led armies against the legions of the dead, so that the harpers of a dozen lands played music in my memory and the chroniclers of a dozen centuries scribbled down my exploits. Yes! I was Bartimaeus -- cheetah-quick, strong as a bull elephant, deadly as a striking krait!

But that was then.

And now . . . Well, right now I was lying in the middle of a midnight road, flat on my back and getting flatter. Why? Because on top of me was an upturned building. Its weight bore down. Muscles strained, tendons popped; try as I might, I could not push free.

In principle there's nothing shameful about struggling when a building falls upon you. I've had such problems before; it's part of the job description.

But it does help if the edifice in question is glamorous and large. And in this case, the fearsome construction that had been ripped from its foundations and hurled upon me from a great height was neither big nor sumptuous. It wasn't a temple wall or a granite obelisk. It wasn't the marbled roof of an emperor's palace.

No. The object that was pinning me haplessly to the ground, like a butterfly on a collector's tray, was of twentieth-century origin and of very specific function.

Oh, all right, it was a public lavatory. Quite sizable, mind, but even so. I was glad no harpers or chroniclers happened to be passing.

Excerpted from Ptolemy's Gate, copyright (c) 2005/6, Jonathan Stroud. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Hyperion Books.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...
  • Book Jacket: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    by Hank Green
    As one half of the extremely popular YouTube duo "Vlogbrothers" (the other half being his brother ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.