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The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) Paperback – May 3, 2004
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Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine. In British author Jonathan Stroud's excellent novel, the first of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, the story switches back and forth from Bartimaeus's first-person point of view to third-person narrative about Nathaniel. Here's the best part: Bartimaeus is absolutely hilarious, with a wit that snaps, crackles, and pops. His dryly sarcastic, irreverent asides spill out into copious footnotes that no one in his or her right mind would skip over. A sophisticated, suspenseful, brilliantly crafted, dead-funny book that will leave readers anxious for more. (Ages 11 to adult) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
There is nothing new in fantasy, only old wine in new bottles. So when a new fantasy comes along that actually feels new its a red letter day in my book.
That rant is by way of saying that this wonderful book avoids the pitfalls of many fantasy writers simply by virtue of the writing. A few years back David (and Leigh) Eddings burst onto the fantasy scene with their original Belgariad books. Plot-wise they were simply Tolkein retreads without the epic mthology. But what made them so readable, and so popular, was the original and entertaining voice with which they told their tales.
So it is with Jonathan Stroud. This is a fun, wry, funny, well-charactered piece about a modern London where magicians rule the land and magic comes in the form of controlling various levels of demons (or djinn). Set amidst the political intrigue is a story of a young apprentice magician's quest for revenge via the use of the some-time narrator djinn Bartimeus. He is the main reason to read the book. His amusing, ironic take on events is worth the price of admission alone. The world itself is well drawn and realised, as are all the characters.Read more ›
If you have been resisting Bartimeus because it sounds like a Harry Potter wannabe, don't-read it now. Although the parallels are obvious--a world of magicians, an orphan apprentice battling a supreme evil--the author is not out to mimic Potter but to offer a different and more pessimistic vision of what a magical world would be like. In Harry Potter's world, magicial ability is a sort of genetic artifact; there are good, evil, and silly magicians - just as in the `human' world; and themes of the importance of family and friends predominate.
Bartimeus' vision is much, much darker. Nathaniel lives in a world where magicians are a dominating ruling class, who thirst for wealth and power, and who will stop at nothing to get it. But all their power stems not from innate ability but from the ability to control the spirits (genies, imps, and the like) that populate the natural world. Here, the wizards are always on the edge of disaster created by losing control over these spirits. One word wrong in an incantation means disaster! There are no beneficent Dumbledore-like wizards here; all - and this includes Nathaniel - are driven by personal gain, revenge, and anger.Read more ›
With so much pallid fantasy out there, Amulet is a breath of fresh air, told in a witty, original voice within a well-constructed plot and structure focused on two complex characters. Amulet is set in an alternate England ruled by magicians whose powers come from their ability to conjure demons. The society is beset within (by a resistance movement of "commoners" as well as by the murderous in-fighting among the ruling class magicians) and without (at war with Prague). Nathaniel is a young magician's apprentice who, after being publicly humiliated, seeks revenge via the demon Bartimaeus and a powerful talisman--the book's namepiece. By the time the book closes, it will involve murder and mayhem, betrayal, the attempted overthrow of the government, ancient (and I mean ancient) grievances, several tense chase scenes, various escape attempts, political commentary, the searing intensity of unassuagable guilt, and more.
Despite all that is crammed in here, the plot moves along briskly for the most part (this despite its complexity and the use of footnotes). Nathaniel is a complex character, giving us easily as many reasons to dislike him as to sympathize with him. He is no paragon of heroism or innocence. The other and much more likable main character (or perhaps more accurately the true main character) is the demon Nathaniel summons and the trilogy's title character.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is fresh, descriptive, engaging and traps you in. If it can bring an emotional response then it has done a good job and it did.Published 3 days ago by Roxane T.
I really just like the story, the characters and the overall feeling. It is an exciting universe to drop into for a while. Thank you Jonathan.Published 8 days ago by Marianna Fridjonsdottir
The dry subtle humor; the multiple layers of meaning, including indirect criticisms of current British politics and class structure.Published 24 days ago by Allon
I randomly picked this up and could not put it down. I just ordered the other 2 books so I can read the entire trilogy!Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book (along with the rest of the Bartimaeus Sequence) is wonderful and would be a fine remedy if you're suffering from magic withdrawal after finishing the Harry Potter books.Published 1 month ago by Polyphemus
Though the book is intended for the younger audience (pre-teens and teens), it holds itself well for an older reader. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
The humor is really good... The story is a real page burner! I'm excited to read the next book in the series.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
The plot of The Bartimaeus Trilogy is unique, clever, and filled with incredible characters. In a world where magicians exist and oppress the “commoners”, magicians get all of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dakota @ Magic in Every Books