The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

This entry is part [part not set] of 3 in the series The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
First book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy
Publisher: New York : Miramax Books : Hyperion Paperbacks For Children, 2004,  462 pages, Language: English, ISBN-0786852550

Bartimaeus is a cynical, 5,000 year old, wise-cracking djinni who has been summoned by a 12 year old magician’s apprentice. The two of them get drawn into a sinister and mysterious plot, that forces them to work together so they can save not only their own lives but those of many others.  However, since Bartimaeus was summoned he is also plotting to get revenge on Nathaniel (the apprentice.)

This is the first book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy series, there are currently a total of four books, three in the trilogy with a prequel. All the books are children’s fantasy books. The story is told in modern times and it takes place in London, but in this world there are magicians who get their power by controlling and enslaving powerful djinni from the chaos plane. The story is told in the first person narrative with Bartimaeus’ voice and thoughts as we follow him around. Bartimaeus also tells the story in the third person narrative when we switch over to Nathaniel’s saga. Bartimaeus can also refers to himself in the third person when he takes on various animal or human forms.

Nathaniel is a very smart, impatient and industrious apprentice with a lame and ineffective master.  His master is the magician that has been put in charge of his upbringing and training. When a strong influential magician named Lovelace is introduced to Nathaniel and then abuses and belittles him without any protection from his master, Nathaniel decides to take revenge with the aid of a djinni.  This then leads to a series of steps that keep going wrong at every turn and unfolds a devious plan. 

There is plenty of excitement and humour as the story evolves. We get to know and understand Nathaniel as the story relays the events in his life that have lead up to the fateful decision which is the catalyst of these breathtaking few days. We also get a glimpse into who and what Bartimaeus is and we get to enjoy reading his interesting view on what is transpiring. Some people compare it to Harry Potter, but I did not see any resemblance other than that the protagonist are young wizards in training. The story is part of a trilogy, yet it is also stand alone.  There is a good build up in the story with a great final climax that comes to a good satisfying end.

I really enjoyed the story and although it is considered a children’s book, I would highly recommend it to everyone except really young children. They would find it too scary since it involves murder and slavery. But if you enjoy a good story with humour that is in the fantasy genre, then you would enjoy this book.

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