- Age Range: 10 - 11 years
- Series: A Bartimaeus Novel (Book 1)
- Paperback: 462 pages
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; Reprint edition (May 3, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780786852550
- ISBN-13: 978-0786852550
- ASIN: 0786852550
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 555 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) Paperback – May 3, 2004
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Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny." If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn't tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gr. 6-12. Picture an alternative London where the Parliament, composed of powerful magicians, rules the British empire. When five-year-old Nathaniel's parents sell him to the government to become a magician's apprentice, the boy is stripped of his past and is given over for training to a grim, mid-level magician from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Over the next seven years, Nathaniel studies the lessons given by his cold master, but in secret he delves into advanced magic books, gaining skill beyond his years: he summons a djinn to steal the powerful amulet of Samarkand. Inspired by a desire for revenge, this bold act leads to danger and death. Nathaniel's third-person narrative alternates with the first-person telling of Bartimaeus the djinn, a memorable and highly entertaining character. Rude, flippant, and cocky, his voice reflects the injustice of his millennia of service to powerful magicians who have summoned him to do their capricious bidding. His informative and sometimes humorous asides appear in footnotes, an unusual device in fiction, but one that serves a useful purpose here. Stroud creates a convincingly detailed secondary world with echoes of actual history and folklore. The strong narrative thrust of the adventure will keep readers involved, but the trouble that is afoot in London extends beyond the exploits here. The unresolved mysteries will be more fully explored in the next two volumes of the trilogy. One of the liveliest and most inventive fantasies of recent years. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
A quick synopsis of book 1: a very young, magically gifted boy named Nathaniel has been forfeited by his parents to the magician's adoption service in exchange for money and he goes to live with and be the apprentice to Arthur Underwood, a mediocre magician and Minister of Internal Affairs of the British government, who turns out to be a very strict, uncaring, cowardly master. Mr. Underwood's wife, Martha, welcomes young Nathaniel with open arms and cares for him greatly, and the feeling is mutual. Little does Mr. Underwood know of the true talent of his young apprentice, and while Nathaniel is barely being taught anything at all by his pompous old master, the brave young boy is devouring the books and learning much on his own.
One day, a group of Mr. Underwood's friends, all powerful magicians and fellow employees of the government, are having a little get-together and Arthur decides to present his young apprentice, "the boy", to everyone. Simon Lovelace, one of the most powerful and arrogant magicians in the group, decides to question the boy about what he has learned, and although Nathaniel obviously displays much natural talent and knowledge of magic (much to his master's and everyone's surprise), Simon Lovelace completely dismisses the boy's talent and tries to make him look like an ignorant little buffoon. Completely angered and embarrassed now, Nathaniel talks back to the powerful magician and in return, he angers Mr. Lovelace so much that the magician does something awful to the boy to humiliate him in front of everyone present. Afterwards, Nathaniel runs up to his room crying and immediately plots his revenge on the evil magician. And this is where everything gets REALLY exciting.
Nathaniel spies on and learns some devious details about Lovelace. Then he furiously reads all the books on magic he can get his hands on, and when he thinks he's ready, he secretly summons up the dangerous spirit Bartimaeus to do help him do his bidding. But Bartimaeus is much more than Nathaniel thinks he his and very difficult to control. And young Nathaniel is far more than what Bartimaeus is expecting, too. Together, these two embark on a hilarious, exciting, and very dangerous adventure while trying to bring about the ultimate downfall of the great magician Simon Lovelace.
The chemistry between the outspoken, determined little boy and the endlessly sarcastic Bartimaeus makes for some of the most fun, enjoyable reading I've done in a very long time. The writing is so clever, witty, and devious that it had me laughing all the way through the book, and it's definitely humor that would appeal to all ages. Very highly recommend to everyone. This is a must-read!
* Update 12/13/2014 - Just finished a back-to-back reading marathon of all four Bartimaeus books (The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, Ptolemy's Gate, and The Ring of Solomon). If you love the first book as much as I did, you will be unable to resist reading them all. Every single book in this series is just as wonderful, hilarious, and engaging as the others. 5 BIG STARS to all four books and crossing my fingers that one of these days I'll get to go on another wild adventure with my favorite naughty spirit, Bartimaeus. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
Because Nathaniel is impatient and too smart for his own good, he decides to take his training further, without his master's knowledge, and summons Bartimaeus, a djinni from the "Other Place" and that's when the trouble starts.
This is Harry Potter meets Aahz (for those of you familiar with the M.Y.T.H series by Robert Asprin and well, Harry Potter). It sounds like a déjà vu, been-there-read-that kind of story but Stroud came up with a well crafted work that brings a bit of novelty to the genre.
Bartimaeus (or Barty, as I like to call him) is absolutely hilarious. His chapters are written in the first person and he is not sparing with his opinions. He's been around for 5000 years and he's pretty full of himself.
My only complaint is the author's excessive use of footnotes in the Barty chapters. Although most of them are hilarious and worth reading, I feel a lot of them could have easily been incorporated in the text itself, instead of having the reader going back and forth to read them. Especially since I read it on Kindle and it took me a while to get the hang of reading the footnotes and coming back to the text afterwards. But my own dorkiness is hardly the author's fault.
So now, as is always the risk when reading the first book of a series (that I got as a freebie on Amazon), I find myself hooked and in a bit of Barty humor withdrawal syndrome. Guess I'm going to have to shell out the 7$ to get the second book, which I will do gladly :)
The book itself is a great read if you like fantasy books. It is also very interesting as its told from the "bad guys" point of veiw. I hope I will enjoy the remaining books as much as I have enjoyed this one.
Most recent customer reviews
The Amulet of Samarkhand deals with a young magician named Nathaniel, who summons Bartimaeus, a 5000-year-old Djinn, to...Read more