Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud
Summary from Goodreads:
The young magician Nathaniel is fast rising through the government ranks. His most urgent task is to put an end to the mysterious Resistance, but Kitty and her friends continue to elude him. As the pressure mounts, London is suddenly threatened by a new series of terrifying attacks. Is it the Resistance - or something even more dangerous? Nathaniel is forced to embark on a perilous mission to the enemy city of Prague; and to summon once again the troublesome, enigmatic and quick-witted djinni, Bartimaeus.
Once I have had success with the first book in a series, I hardly ever get disappointed with the sequels. In fact most often than not, I tend to like sequels more than the precedent. So I had a feeling Golem's Eye would be no exception and I was right.
Plot-wise, it has become more engaging, for one, Nathaniel is faced with numerous adversaries and not just one. He has to contend with a Golem, an indestructible clay-formed figure which is controlled by an individual whose identity he is yet to discover; the Resistance, a group of commoners who possess certain gifts which they use to their advantage in toppling the Parliament; and then there's one or two government officials either just waiting for him to mess up or taking steps in ensuring that he does.
As to the characters, there are now three voices in the story. Batimaeus remains to be as hilarious as ever, but here I got a littlle more than the wise-cracking djinni. Here he becomes more introspective than the last time. More human and a little less than what the magicians's most often refer to his kind: demons, spirits, or entities that are savage and meant to be subdued. Nathaniel, now part of the Parliament, has become more ambitious and arrogant. But despite that, there are certain glimpses of conscience in his actions that I sort of start to root for him. Stroud did a great job of conveying in words that potential in Nathaniel. The potential of him becoming a conscientious/moral magician, just peeking out from time to time. Then there's Kitty, a commoner, almost as young as Nathaniel, and a Resistance member who exhibits a certain resilience to magic. She is another stand out character. She is head-strong and despises the magicians and their slave spirits more than anything but she undergoes a certain development which affirmed that she doesn't really share that close-mindedness of her fellow resistance members. That she is somewhat different from them, better in a way. It's interesting that from among Mandrake's adversaries, I found her to be the most formidable and she is an excellent addition to the story.
This book seems to exceed the first one, for me at least. There's more political intigue, more mystery, more magic, more character development. There's a lot going on but never too much to overwhelm you. I am definitely excited to read the last installment in this trilogy.