The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 1: The Amulet of Samarkand

April 4, 2012

Written by Jonathan Stroud
Reviewed by K. Williams
Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Have you ever imagined about controlling demons? Have you wondered what they are thinking? Now you don’t have to. When Nathaniel was only six years old, his parents sold him to an orphanage where he would stay until a magician came to pick him up. This was all based on the fact that someone saw magical talent in him. He was picked up by a lower ranking magician named Arthur Underwood. Ever since that night when he stepped into the magician’s car, he was repeatedly told to forget his birth name. For many years, before they chose a new name for him, Nathaniel was referred to by his master (the magician) as boy. When they finally agreed on John Mandrake, he was finally called by a name. That same night, Underwood was having a party. One of the guests was a man named Simon Lovelace. At the party, Simon publicly embarrassed Nathaniel (John). Ever since the event, Nathaniel vowed revenge. Conjuring the djinni named Bartimaeus (a middle ranking demon) way before he was technically allowed to, he ordered it to steal the most valuable artifact he could possibly think of. The Amulet of Samarkand. Will Bartimaeus be successful? Will Nathaniel get his revenge? The answers are contained in the book.

The Amulet of Samarkand is a hilarious, compelling, and downright fun to read edge of your seat thrill ride from start to finish. You can follow young Nathaniel and his conjured up demon servant through a mysterious adventure full of myth and magic. You can see the point of view of Nathaniel and his mostly immortal servant Bartimaeus in a vast multitude of mind bending problems as they think out ways to solve them. And laugh as Bartimaeus uses footnotes to explain magical or historical things that he has taken part in, often using sarcastic or arrogant phrases to describe himself and the people around him. This book, a 400 something page book, was so hard to put down that I read it in four days. That is why I rated it 5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good adventure with a lot of comedy, magic, and strange creatures. The other aspect of this book that some people may like is Jonathan Stroud’s ability to tie in some real world things that may still be going on today or that could have happened in the past. For example, there are parts that touch base with slavery because the demons are basically the magicians’ slaves. Also, there is a lot about caring for the people you love and how to get along with your enemies. There is quite a bit of foreshadowing, clues that keep you guessing, and great imagery of the magic and creatures that Nathaniel and Bartimaeus see. Overall, I think this book is a must read.

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