Monday, September 6, 2010

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

The Bartimaeus Trilogy:
The Amulet of Samarkand

Author: Jonathan Stroud

Publisher: Hyperion Books

4 out of 5 stars

Nathaniel is one of the most powerful magicians in London. He can summon magical entities, create scrying glasses, and even control potent beings. But I forgot to mention one little detail, Nathaniel is only twelve years old. Nathaniel lives in an alternate London, where magicians preside over the commoners and rule the government. Nathaniel was introduced to this world when he was only six years old. His parents traded him in for a large sum of money, so he could have the opportunity to become a magician’s apprentice. Basically, they abandoned him, and by doing so, forced him into a life of study and discipline. But Nathaniel was a good little boy. He studied diligently, followed commands, and listened to his master with the utmost attention and respect. Except that is, until one unfortunate day. 

Nathaniel was eleven at the time and his master, Arthur Underwood, was holding a social gathering with many of his fellow magicians. His master wanted to show him off at the event. Everything was going well until Simon Lovelace, a magician of the utmost power, pushed him too far. Nathaniel retaliated in the only way he knew, but it wasn’t good enough. Simon publicly humiliated and punished Nathaniel for what he did, while his master just stood by and watched. Ever since then, Nathaniel has had a burning rage and hate boiling inside of him.

Because of that encounter, Nathaniel has vowed to seek revenge on Simon Lovelace. He wants to make sure that Simon Lovelace will rue that day for all of eternity. So, to accomplish this task, Nathaniel teaches himself new and powerful spells. He even learns how to summon beings from the Other Place. All of this is far beyond his years and is especially advanced for one so young. One day, Nathaniel decides that the time has come. He summons a potent and ancient djinni named Bartimaeus, who has lived and watched history unfold. Nathaniel charges Bartimaeus with the job of stealing a prized and valuable possession of Simon Lovelace’s, The Amulet of Samarkand. However, Nathaniel doesn’t realize that what he has just done has put him in grave danger. Will Nathaniel be able to expose Simon Lovelace for what he really is, or will he get caught in the act? All is revealed in Jonathon Stroud’s mystical adventure, The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand!

This book surprised me through and through. There was always an unexpected twist or turn, and many a time where I sat there with my mouth agape. The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand was such an exhilarating and electrifying read! This book not only used magic, but did so in a totally different way. This is a book that could appeal to both kids and adults with its witty humor.

One aspect that I liked immensely was the fact that there was magic used, but in a fresh, new way. Instead of using wands and brooms, this book had magicians and djinn. There were imps, the shape shifting Bartimaeus, afrits, and magical entities from beyond. The magicians were not as expected either. They were greedy, power-hungry people. However, I liked this a lot, as it was something different and it showed me another take on magic. It contributed a great deal to the story, especially with its magical creatures and artifacts. I can’t wait to see this continued in the sequel, The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Golem’s Eye.

I was also very fond of the characters in this book. All of them had much more hiding under the surface, and would surprise me with the unexpected. The djinni, Bartimaeus, was my absolute favorite character. I laughed at his witty remarks and leering jibes. Bartimaeus definitely is a very memorable character. Nathaniel also amazed me, with his sheer determination and will to fight back.

However, there is one aspect of The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand that some people may not like. There are footnotes in the story, which are used to explain things or to just make humorous remarks. Personally, I didn’t mind the footnotes at all, and found that they added a nice touch to the storyline. But then again, they may bother some readers since they break up the story. However, these footnotes only appear when you are in the point of view of Bartimaeus, so they aren’t in the book constantly. This brings me to another point, the different perspectives that this story is told in. Throughout the story you are either in first person, seeing through the eyes of Bartimaeus, or watching Nathaniel from afar in third person. Again, I thought that this was a benefit to the story, but I preferred Bartimaeus’s point of view over Nathaniel’s.

Overall though, I would have liked to see a little bit more explanations throughout the story. Such as learning more about Bartimaeus, discovering more about the history of the Amulet of Samarkand, and even hearing more about the magical being that Simon Lovelace calls on would have been nice. This would have brought a little more substance to the story and would have explained a few of my unanswered questions.

To sum it all up, The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand is a fast-paced, magical adventure with twists and turns around every corner. Join Nathaniel and Bartimaeus as they dart in and out of trouble, and see if they can pull off the biggest stunt yet in, The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand website at
The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand is available from Amazon here.


  1. This was one of the first series I picked up after Harry Potter & I loved it :)

    ps. i didnt mind the footnotes at all! If anything, they helped me to better understand the story!


  2. I agree I liked the footnotes a lot too! They provided more fun, extra comments to the story.

  3. This book was rather entertaining. Not only did I get to hear from the perspective of Nathaniel but also Bartimaeus, who gets into all sorts of trouble following his master's orders. I thoroughly enjoyed this book about magicians, which actually happened to be totally different from the Harry Potter series.

  4. The best thing about this series (for me) was the fact that each successive book was better than the last. Often in this kinds of series the sequels do not live up to the original.

    The ending of the third book is one of the best I've ever read.


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