The Bartimaeus Trilogy 1: The Amulet of Samarkand


Jonathan Stroud
Hyperion Books, New York, 2004
ISBN 0 7868 5255 0
462 pages

First of all, I want to say that I am lucky, because I bought this book in airport; at that time I was late already, people was already boarding, but I still made myself to breeze through Periplus, just in case. And my eyes caught by this smirky bluish gray face of a creature from a front cover. Without thinking, I took it, paid, and run to the plane (while thinking myself as a very dumb person indeed, buying things without reading the backcover or find out the review first). But then, turns out I am very very far from regret it. In fact, I recommend you to buy this series.

This trilogy is from fantasy genre.
Reading the beginning of the book made me sceptical, because it’s, again, about magicians. Harry Potter-ish. Could be a copycat.

I was wrong.
A magician, according to this book, achieved his ability not only by memorizing incantations, but he also needed the spirits to do his magics. There were 5 types of spirits who were “proper” enough to be summoned, one of them were the djinnis. Magician-to-be (apprentice) also didn’t achieve his abilities by studying in some boarding school like Hogwarts or Beauxbatons; instead, he had to be an apprentice one-on-one to a “master magician”. He had to leave his parents (literally sold by their parents to the British government) to stay with their “master”.

Now, there was this 11 years-old apprentice, Nathaniel, who was actually very intelligent, very talented, but not appreciated enough by his cowardly master, Arthur Underwood. Nat’s encounter with a young talented magician, Simon Lovelace (what a name), who abused him (physically) in public, had made him think of revenge (to the young magician, and, although he’d never acknowledged it, to his own master). With a rather unusual manner for an apprentice. Yepp, by summoning a fourth-level djinni named Bartimaeus. Who turned out to be not just an ordinary djinni. Turned out that this one creature, although bound to do anything the apprentice told him, were not as hushed-up as a djinni used to be, and not as easily controlled. Bartimaeus was the most indifferent, self-centered, articulate, sarcastic, witty, sophisticated, and hilarious djinni Nathaniel will ever met, who was not only annoying him, but would also help him a great deal in the near future. Bartimaeus was a djinni who had lived five-thousand years, and had served Solomon, Ptolemy, and even Hiawatha (bwahahaha!). In fact, “Bartimaeus is the main reason to read the book” (quoted from a friend). You can’t help falling in love to this djinni. The first order of Nathaniel to Bartimaeus had brought them accidentally into politic tangles in British government who was ruled by magicians (the Prime Minister himself was a magician). The “normal” human beings were called “commoners”, who seemed didn’t like the magicians.

In the first parts, the story was written in alternately present and past style, to make us comprehend of Nat’s past. The story were also witten from 2 points of view, from Nathaniel’s (full of anger and frustation), and from Bartimaeus’ (sarcastis, full of contempt, and funny). Besides, the story is very “humane”, not really think of morale, that’s what I mean. Good guys can also do wrong, sometimes. Obviously, this book is not for younger childrens. All the magicians in this book were so ambitious to overthrow each other. Interesting. Very humane.

Another attractive feature of this book is the self-serving footnotes, written by the djinni himself, for a reason he will reveal to you in the book. The story is full of actions, fast-pacing, and you will finished the book in one sit.

Conclusion: It’s funny, easy-to-read, and worth to buy. Can’t wait to buy the next one and read more on Bartimaeus.

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2 thoughts on “The Bartimaeus Trilogy 1: The Amulet of Samarkand

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