Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)

The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)

Jonathan Stroud
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Disney-Hyperion, 2003   ISBN: 978-0786818594

Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, is furious and is determined to have his revenge on Simon Lovelace. Lovelace, a powerful magician who works for the government, has humiliated Nathaniel in the most mortifying way and Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, did nothing to help his apprentice during the ordeal. Instead, Underwood punished Nathaniel for having the cheek to antagonize a fellow magician.

Far more knowledgeable in the art of magic than he should be for a boy of his age, Nathaniel summons up a powerful 5,000-year-old djinni called Bartimaeus to help him in his quest for revenge. Bartimaeus is not at all pleased to be forced to work for a twelve-year-old boy but since Nathaniel has cast his spell properly and with care there is nothing that Bartimaeus can do. Instead when Nathaniel tells Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace, Bartimaeus reluctantly does as he is told.

What neither Nathaniel nor Bartimaeus know at this point is that the Lovelace only has the Amulet because he stole it from the British government. Lovelace has plans of his own, plans which involve overthrowing the current administration so that he can seize power. When the Amulet is stolen from him Lovelace puts his considerable powers to work to retrieve the precious magical artifact and he is determined to make sure that Nathaniel and Bartimaeus do not get in the way of his plans.

Set in a modern-day London which is ruled by magicians, this deliciously funny and highly entertaining book is told from the point of view of both Bartimaeus and Nathaniel. Bartimaeus' often sarcastic and scornful observations about the magicians and their world are highly amusing, and the longstanding conflict between the "demons" and the magicians adds a great deal of interest to the story.

Wonderfully written and quite addictive, this is a book which fantasy fans of all ages will greatly enjoy. Readers who enjoy this book might like to visit the Bartimaeus Trilogy website