Reviews

The Bartimaeus Trilogy – A Review

We look back at a fun and imaginative trilogy that forever impacted my love of reading.


The Bartimaeus Trilogy is a witty, engaging, and all-around fun read by author Jonathan Stroud. The books consist of The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, and Ptolemy’s Gate. I read these books when I was in high school, and to say that they impacted my life would be a severe understatement. Let’s dive into what they are about to see if they will be a great read for you, as well!

The Bartimaeus Trilogy follows three major characters. The talkative and clever djinni Bartimaeus, the ambitious and quiet magician Nathaniel, and the brave and strong-willed rebel Kitty. The chapters vary from each of their POV’s, making it easy to dive right into their heads and hearts. The trilogy takes us on a fantastical world of an alternative London. One where the rich and powerful magicians control others through the summoning and enslavement of spirits such as djinn, imps, powerful afreet, and more. But the people of London won’t stand for this control and domination much longer. What follows is a tale of systems of power, of corruption, of freedom, and what is means to be “human”.

One of the best parts about these books is how you get three stories rolled into one due to the varying POV’s. You get the world of backstabbing political corruption with Nathaniel. You get the world of secret rebellions and spies with Kitty. And you get the magical world of spirits and power through Bartimaeus.

I immediately fell in love with these books when I first discovered them in my old school’s library. Often I would fall asleep reading because I couldn’t put it down. To date not only is this the first book series I have fully read twice over, but I have actually read it three times and will happily continue to read for the rest of my life. The characters are complex and deep, the struggles everyone goes through are heartfelt, and even in this fantasy London there is a ring of truth to the dynamics that are explored.

The award-winning Bartimaeus Trilogy also has a fourth companion that is more of a prequel (though set hundreds of years prior to these events). It is titled the Ring of Solomon and is also a fantastic read. It features Bartimaeus, but not Nathaniel or Kitty.

You can see these books on Amazon here.

Happy reading!


Rat Queens
D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Reviews

Rat Queens Volume 1 Review

We take a look at Rat Queens Volume 1 and how it relates to D&D

Rat Queens is a dark satire comic book series that plays out like a typical game of Dungeons & Dragons. From its lovable characters and its detailed world, the comic contains wit and humor blended with gritty action and an engaging plot that keeps you wanting more and more.

I won’t lie when I tell you that when I first read a Rat Queens comic – issue 16 with Critical Role – a few years ago I did not find it all that great. Jump forward to today and I am all in for what is next from the Rat Queens. It just goes to show that the more time you spend with characters or a series the more it grows on you. It’s much like character development where you have an idea at the beginning but as time goes on the character grows and changes in ways you never even thought about.

Characters

Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcerery follows the story of the adventuring party made up of Betty the rogue, Violet the fighter, Dee the cleric, and Hannah the wizard. The world is swords and sorcery and feels like a beginning D&D quest. The leading ladies are one of many protectors of the city of Palisade. They collect bounties and contracts to slay monsters and complete quests. The party is already well established in the city and the comic does a great job at letting you know everyone knows who they are and they aren’t particularly well-liked even though they get things done.

There are several other characters introduced to make the world feel more alive and it makes everything feel grander and meaningful. Even though there are a lot of characters writer Kurtis Wiebe makes each one engaging. They have a unique way of speaking and handling situations, especially the Rat Queens. They also have their own secrets and pasts that appear to play a larger part in future issues. Betty is an adorable firecracker that will cut you if you look at her or her friends the wrong way. Whereas Violet is a tough and resilient dwarven warrior that is always ready to protect her fellow party members.

In any tabletop role-playing game using backstory is one of the best ways to advance plot. The first five issues were just a prelude to the larger story at hand.

Rat Queens

Story

Speaking of story issues 1 -5 focused on setting up the characters. Wiebe understands characters and builds time to connect and establish who each one is. The writing is vivid and flows fluidly with the artwork which is equally as stunning. The first arc is one big quest to find out who is trying to kill off adventuring party members. It’s the classic tale of one quest evolving into another leading to larger threats on the horizon.

While on a contract, the Rat Queens are given a quest to clean out a cave of goblins. There is nothing more nostalgic sounding than that in a D&D game. Yet things don’t go as planned and that greater threat arrives in the form of an assassin. The challenge shifts to finding out who hired the assassins and why they are killing party members. It keeps you guessing about who it may be but excellently presents the story in a clear and concise manner.

Fight scenes are graphic but remain engaging, entertaining, witty, and full of motion without being overly and unnecessarily violent. Slower-paced moments are easy to follow and don’t drag on. Each panel contains beautiful art and conversations that advance the story and develop the characters.

Rat Queens: Volume 1 is the classic D&D tale of the beginner adventure party. The world is full of terrifying creatures and realistic characters who act like real people. There is plenty of adult language and adult situations that would make Captain America blush but nothing that doesn’t fit in with the narrative. The main Rat Queens crew is violent and often attacks first and asks questions later. Yet they’re all lovable and enjoyable throughout their quirks, mannerisms, and qualities.

Rat Queens: Volume 1 is highly recommended to fantasy and D&D fans! It is thrilling, intriguing, fast-paced, and contains a world full of engaging and realistic characters. We give it a 9 on a d10.