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66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Note: Potential spoiler warning in my descriptions of the books.

You know, it really is hard to find well-written, well-characterized, well-plotted, witty books nowadays. Surprisingly hard. But I finished the Bartimaeus Trilogy a few months ago, and not only has it got all of the above characteristics, it's also one of the all-around best series I've read in a long time.

I'm puzzled by those who call it a knockoff of Harry Potter. Having a boy magician as the main character doesn't make something a Harry Potter knockoff. Especially when that magician is Nathaniel, as different a character from Harry as you can imagine.

Nathaniel is bitter, ambitious, naïve, and hugely precocious. At the beginning of the first book, he is under the tutelage of inferior magician Arthur Underwood, who treats him terribly. Nathaniel puts up with it, though - until he is humiliated by a man named Simon Lovelace in public, and Underwood is too afraid to help him.

Nathaniel, furious, throws himself into a task that no one expected he could accomplish - summoning a powerful middle-ranking djinni to exact revenge on Lovelace by stealing the Amulet of Samarkand.

But Bartimaeus, the djinni, is not a docile creature. Sarcastic and hilarious, it is his part-narration - and the footnotes that go along with it - that really make the books.

In the second book, THE GOLEM'S EYE, Nathaniel must summon Bartimaeus again when he is put in charge of hunting down the source of a devastating attack. The Prime Minister is certain that the Resistance, a group of commoners rebelling against the magicians' unfair regime, is behind the attack, but Nathaniel is not so sure. Meanwhile, Kitty Jones, a commoner at the head of the Resistance, is searching with the others for magical weapons they can use to overthrow the magicians and regain London.

The third book, PTOLEMY'S GATE, is arguably the best of the trilogy, where we learn the most about Bartimaeus's past. Nathaniel has been abusing the djinni to the point where he is almost dead, until, in an act of compassion that surprises even him, Nathaniel sends him back temporarily to the Other Place to regain his strength.

But Kitty hasn't been idle, either, and she finally decides to try something that has never been tried by anyone like her before. And as the fates of Nathaniel and Kitty and Bartimaeus intertwine again and again, and the government begins to crumble - but *not* in the way you were hoping it would - it's impossible to tell what will happen. You will be racing to reach the finish - but, beware: You might find yourself crying in the end.

I can't recommend this trilogy highly enough, and I can't wait to read some of Jonathan Stroud's other work.

Rating: Masterpiece
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
With so many Potter knock-offs being rushed to market these days, it takes patience to separate the wheat from the chaffe. The Bartimaeus Trilogy definitely makes the cut, and is in many ways more imaginative and compelling than HP and his wand-wielding ilk. It is also more concise, a matter of no small concern when one considers the increasingly bloated installments in other more prominent fantasy series. Although there are minor lulls in all three books, they make for a fast and satisfying read. The use of multiple points of view has the potential to be quite annoying, but in this case provides a pleasing change of pace. The humor, like the overall tone, is refreshingly darker than many of the products aimed at young readers.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put these books down! They keep you guessing the whole time, even making it nearly impossible to decide whose side you are on! Stroud does the "magic thing" differently than other authors out there and brings us a whole new set of moral and ethical circumstances to consider. The stories of the three main characters are woven into each other, told from different points of view and time periods, and are all seamlessly tied together by the brilliant writing. The main characters are so endearing that I hated to see the books end. But they did indeed end, and the ending itself was a fantastic piece of writing that brings out so many different emotions.

This set is now has a place on my "favorite books" shelf.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm an adult and I loved these books as did my college age daughter. Admittedly, we have gotten into the habit of snitching my 10YO's books, because the 9-12 YOs seem to be getting more interesting reading material than adults.

I will say, Bartimaeus may be targeted for 9-12YOs, but they are a bit dark for that age group. However, the writing is advanced enough for the 13+ crowd. Fantasy has become so repetitive that I had almost stopped reading it, but Bartimaeus feels original, it's not just one of the same old stories.

Bartimaeus is a witty, smart-mouthed demon with no interest in humans. However, an apprentice magician, Nathaniel, has summoned him correctly so he must serve. Throughout the series Nathaniel grows up and becomes less self-centered. The demon and the boy become tentative friends - except that Nathaniel never quite feels he can trust the demon.

This is a great series, it keeps you on your toes. The characters are well-developed and the reader is often anxious for them. The plots make sense. Each book can stand alone, but they are better together. Excellent series.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
For at least the next few decades, I'm thinking, we won't be able to read a book with (a) fantasy content and (b) a teenage protagonist without wondering if we're just going to be subjected to another misbegotten attempt at capitalizing on the Harry Potter craze. I'm so glad to report that this is NOT one of those.

The mechanism of magic, for one thing, is really original (I'm sure hardcore fantasy people can contradict me on that and say how so and so wrote a book 100 years ago with the same idea, or whatever), and it adds a tremendous amount to the enjoyability of the book. It's less of a brushed aside handwave and more central to the whole plot. It's significantly more thought-out than other magical mechanisms that I could name (I mean, in some books there is a spell to keep water off your glasses in the rain, and a potion to grow bones back, but nothing to fix your eyes like lasik...what's up with that?).

I'm actually on here looking to buy the series because I want to read it again. There's more to it than twists and turns--the characters are believable, imperfect, human (except for the ones that aren't, I guess :) ). It's the kind of book where you want to read it again because you want to re-examine the motivations and development of the characters.

In my search for stuff for my boys (all Harry Potter fans) to read, this has been my favorite series.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this trilogy for my 9 year old. He was already engaged with another series, so I picked it up. I am having an absolute blast! Very well written, real page turners. I've enjoyed it as much as (gasp!) Harry Potter.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It's true that fantasy, London and government don't go together, but I think that Stroud makes a great parallel universe in which a stubborn, glory-seeking boy makes a huge mistake and lets out his true name to a even more stubborn, glory seeking djinn, Bartimaeus. The book is filled with great dialouge, and an interesting writing style, as when you're with the djinn the subscripts give Stroud's idea of how upper beings minds work. I found at the beginning that the subscripts and the footer noting was a bit much, but I actually grew to enjoy reading the djinn's part of the story more than any of the other characters because of his magnetic attitude.

By the second novel, you get introduced to another character. Through the rest of the second book, and into the third, you switch between the boy, the djinn, and her until your head's spinning.

I personally found that the books get darker in sequencial order. They are definately growing up books, like J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter series. I do like Stroud's style, in the matter that he doesn't make a child's book. It's more of a story of a boy that grows up too quickly in a world of almost corrupted politics and magic wars between the countries of Europe.

If you are interested in this particular book, you have to like magic, and you have to like sarcasm, and with those combined you get the humor that I absolutely adore in Stroud's work. They're fast reads, and worth time to read.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I recently finished this trilogy and enjoyed the content. Stroud's writing style isn't my cup of tea though. I'm a 26 year old mother, and was looking for books from the same fantasy realm as "Harry Potter". I wouldn't at all compare these books to Harry Potter as they're completely different, but they are in the same fantasy category. The only reason I rate this trilogy a 3 is that (especially the first 2 books) are extremely wordy and very detailed. Some people like that though...I just don't feel I need to know every single color of every single building on every single street that's mentioned to truly picture what's going on in a story...I like to have room to imagine some things. Anyway. My main point of writing this review is to let others out there know that YES, if you're an adult wondering if this trilogy would quench your fantasy thirst, it will. The storyline is extremely engaging and exciting...after you've muddled through some of the details (I have to admit, there were paragraphs that I simply scanned in order to get through to the action). At the beginning of the trilogy, you're rooting for Nathaniel, at the end you're rooting for Bartimaus and Kitty...read them and I'm sure you'll feel the same. I do recommend this as a buy for light reading. Enjoy!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I, like the rest of the known universe, started by reading the Harry Potter books. When I was done, well, frankly, in the gaps between #'s 6 & 7, I started looking around for other similar items. I was looking for interesting story-telling without too much of a challenge (for example: easy enough to follow in audiobook form which is very disjointed depending on your driving habits).

I tried them all and found some good ones: The Golden Compass books, the Spook's Apprentice books -- some "ok" ones: the Artemis Fowl books and the Septimus Heap books -- and, well, some others I won't tout.

But the Bartimaeus books are the BEST. Like all these books the "world" created is delightful and interesting and equalled only by the Golden Compass. But it is Barty himself -- a wise-cracking and sarcastic demon who is trying to find technical mistakes in the ways in which his human summoner has operated to give him the excuse to devour same! -- who really makes the books.

I don't want to give away the plots but all three stories are interesting, exciting, and fast-paced. Further, they are woven together skillfully and the gradual evolution of Barty and Nathaniel from antagonists, to reluctant allies, to friends is great fun. I always KNEW he was a demon with a heart of gold!

I really recommend these. Great Stuff. A great pity that there aren't more of them!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
The Bartimaeus books are action packed fantasy novels whose main protagonists are a young wizard and his demon servant who he summons at the beginning of the first book to steal a magical amulet. The demon, whose name is Bartimaeus at first is not content with being the servant of a young boy but as the books go on you can see a bond forming between the two.
The trilogy is masterfully written and the witty remarks of the demon will often draw a laugh. The Bartimaeus Trilogy will keep you captivated for hours and when you finish the trilogy you will mourn that there is no sequel! It is a roller coaster ride of drama, humor, and action and will have you reading through the night. In short these amazing books are some of the best you will ever read!
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