Quorren’s #CBR4 Review #38 The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) by Jonathan Stroud
I think this is the first young adult series since Harry Potter that I’ve felt so sad that this book is fiction. And that I’m not a wizard. I’m already waiting on pins and needles for the next book to come in the mail.
The story beings with Nathaniel, an apprentice wizard, summoning Bartimaeus, a djinni of some renown. Nathaniel is a bit of a child wizarding prodigy, but his mediocre and paranoid master has ever taken enough of an interest in him to notice. His master, Underwood, plays politics more than he plays with magic and when one of the most influential wizards in London, Simon Lovelace, embarrasses and violently harms Nathaniel, he doesn’t lift a finger. Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus to exact his revenge, but things don’t go as planned.
The book switches off from Nathaniel’s and Bartimaeus’ points of view. Bartimaeus’ chapters are the best, though. He’s pretty sarcastic and snide, and bit arrogant. Maybe it’s a British thing, but Stroud almost rivals Pratchett in terms of humorous footnotes. Nathaniel does dismiss Bartimaeus at the end of the book, but since the trilogy is named after him, it’s pretty safe to assume he’ll be returning.
Even though the book is a triology, it can stand alone. The main plot involving Lovelace gets tidied up and finished off nicely. There is a small subplot, which I imagine will play a bigger role in the next books, regarding the politics of England and the wizards vs. commoners. Wizards run the show, having all the major seats in government and they are very disdainful of the commoners. This will undoubtedly come to a head at one point and Nathaniel will have some part in it, I’m sure. Even though a lot of the later story is telegraphed by Stroud, I’m still gleefully looking forward to the next book in the series.