Friday, October 1, 2010

The Amulet of Samarkand- Jonathan Stroud

The first book in the famous Bartimaeus trilogy, acclaimed as one of the best young adult fantasy series out there.

The main protagonist is a djinni called Bartimaeus who has been summoned by a child, Nathaniel. Nathaniel is an apprenrice under a mediocre magician Arthur Underwood who is the assistant magician in Internal Affairs of the British Government.
Bartimaeus is a 3,000 year old djinni who has served under a number of other masters before, most notably Ptolemy of Egypt.

Nathanial was abandoned in his early childhood by his parents. He was raised by Arthut Underwood and his wife. Mr. Underwood started to teach Nathaniel magic. Around when he was ten years old, a very strong magician called Simon Lovelace had come to Arthur's house for an event.  Simon taunted Nathaniel and finally, Nathaniel snapped. He attacked Simon but was overpowered. While this was going on, Arthur stood by and watched, too scared to intervene. This caused a deep seated resentment to build up in Nathaniel towards both men. He vowed to take revenge on Simon.

So, when he was twelve, Nathaniel summoned Bartimaeus and charged him to steal a valuble possension from Simon Lovelace- the Amulet of Samarkand. But this theft sets off a chain of events which hurtles Natheniel into an adventure he was not prepared for. Will he and Bartimaeus make it through and save the day?

There are many things I liked about his book:
First is that the story is very unique. The concept of London as we know it being run by magicians who control various spirit-like things is quite original.
Next is Bartimaeus' absolutely brilliant character. He is extremely witty and humorous, and can make light of any situation. I loved his footnotes. They provided an amusing break from the story by diverting just a little bit.
Also, I liked how the story went along. It wasn't boring nor was it a on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of adventure. It was a simple narrative given a twist with Bartimaeus' way of telling it. There is actually a noticeable difference when the point of view changes from Bartimaeus to Nathaniel.

All people should give this a try. It's a light read and provides a good break.

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