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The Amulet of Samarkand

Author:  Jonathan Stroud

Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, has revenge on his mind. Desperate to defy his master and take on more challenging spells, he secretly summons the 5000-year-old djinni, Bartimaeus. But Bartimaeus's task is not an easy one; he must steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a master magician of unrivalled ruthlessness and ambition. Before long, Bartimaeus and Nathaniel are caught up in a terrifying flood of intrigue, rebellion and murder.

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Jun 11,2011

“Hey, it was his first time. I wanted to scare him. And I did, too. The dark-haired boy stood in a pentacle of his own, smaller, filled with different runes, a metre away from the main one. He was as pale as a corpse, shaking like a dead leaf in a high wind. His teeth rattled in his shivering jaw. Beads of sweat dripped from his brow, turning to ice as they fell through the air. They tinkled with the sound of hailstones on the floor. All well and good, but so what? I mean, he looked about twelve years old. Wide-eyed, hollow-cheeked. There’s not that much satisfaction to be had from scaring the pants off a scrawny kid.”

The scene above was the first time Bartimaeus met a boy called Nathaniel. Bartimaeus, the 5000 year old djinni (pronounced jinnee) is summoned by the magician’s apprentice Nathaniel. Right now London is the most powerful city in the entire world and Nathaniel is aspiring to be among the greatest magician of them all. He bids Bartimaeus to steal one of the most powerful magical artefacts and bring it back to him. The only problem is that Bartimaeus is reluctant to risk his life by being chased by demons, gangs and powerful and mysterious magicians.

Wonderful and imaginative to say the least, Jonathan Stroud has created the magnificent world of shrewd, funny and sarcastic demons and magicians. An action/adventure fantasy at its greatest, its characters are deeply developed in detail. The demons are petulant, stubborn and smart to the point of idiocy. The magicians are also petulant but always have a lifeline of power and show cunning the likes of which I have never seen in any other book. The “commoners” are oblivious to the magic around them.

Jonathan Stroud uses the most amazing descriptive language, as seen in the opening sequence, quoted above; there are many other examples of his rib-cracking humour, such as the little footnotes on the bottom of Bartimaeus’ own chapters where they show his perspective of the story. These provide insights, jokes and general self-praise for his many acts of heroism.

The only problem I have with this book is that the chapters are quite confusing. He has used the technique of a small time relapse at the beginning where they explain the background of a character, and during my first read I found this a little muddling, but it catches up and it switches between characters’ perspectives every few chapters, providing different perspectives. None the less, I thoroughly wish for all who read this review to pick up this incredible book, it’s an absolute pleasure to read.


Apr 27,2011

The amulet of Samarkand-

If you have not yet read this book, I'll tell you the basic plot-line. If you have, you will most likely find it boring, and feel free to skip ahead.

The story goes, that a young, clever boy is taken at the age of 5 to be introduced to the life of a magician. Young Nathaniel quickly rises in skill, despite the thoughts of his master. He is ambitious, but is powers are suppressed by his age. Nathaniel, bored by his underused talent, conjures a powerful demon before he is allowed to even summon an imp (low level demon). This demon is a Djinn known as Bartimaeus. Nathaniel is not conscious of what he is getting himself into because pride is fuelling him. He charges Bartimaeus to retrieve the amulet of Samarkand from the possession of his nemesis, Simon Lovelace. Little did he know this amulet is a very powerful artefact that, well, I won't spoil it. A thing you must never allow is for a demon to discover your birth name, because a demon in that position can gain power over you. Basically Bartimaeus finds out Nathaniel's birth name, and the two get into a bit if a... Pickle.

The narrative cleverly changes perspective between Nathaniel in third person, and Bartimaeus in first person. The very nice thing is that Bartimaeus' perspective is littered with footnotes at the bottom of the page telling nostalgic stories, facts, impressions and thoughts, with a more wizened point of view, whereas Nathaniel is constantly anxious and fretting, seeking power whenever he can. Together this combination keeps you invited to this book till' you finish it.

All in all I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who is into demons, Great Britain, aristocracy, and magicians. This kept me hooked, and I think you will be too.

It is nice to read this book on/in:

A long trip (car, plane, train etc.)


An armchair under a light

Preferably when it is quiet.

Mar 23,2011


I loved this book; it was full of both humour and action, but also contained references to more serious topics, to pull it down to earth.

The parts of the book from Bartimaeus's perspective were amusing; there really don't seem to be many pieces of writing from a Djinn's point of view, instead, most seem to be from the Magician's. But in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, you are able to see what Bartimaeus thinks about his 'Master', the situation, and how stupid he feels that everyone other than himself is.

I loved the footnotes expecially, which were random reminises that Bartimaeus seemed to have; mostly insulting, however some were referring to the past, and his opinion on what happened there.


Mar 15,2011
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anonymous (not verified)

In a word: MAGNIFICENT! 

The Amulet of Samarkand, written by Jonathan Stroud, is an amazing tale of a young magician's revenge on a powerful man and the boy's use of a powerful Djinn to get his vengeance. The way Stroud has used the technique of explanations during the text for strange or confusing really helps the reader to understand what is going on fully as well as enjoy the novel.
The use of technical codes such as symbolism and metaphors not only gives the reader interesting mental images but also introduces ideas that may not have been thought of before.
Stroud's mixture of humour  among seriousness and magic brings forth an enticing story that attracts readers of all ages.
A much loved book that I shall cherish forever.
Thank you

Apr 28,2008
anonymous's picture
anonymous (not verified)

A 12 year old magician, Nathaniel, who summons the Djinni Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace.

The best part of this book was...
the footnotes. As at least half of the book is written from Bartimaeus's point of view, the Demon puts in footnotes that are sure to inform or amuse.
This book is similar to...
Northern Lights (The Golden Compass) by Phillip Pullman.
The best place to read this book is...
anywhere that is comfortable. Sitting on a pointy rock might not be a good idea.
The soundtrack of this book should be...
action-packed, if it had lyrics it would go along the lines of \"My Interpretation\" by Mika.

Mar 10,2007
anonymous's picture
anonymous (not verified)

a young magician called Nathaniel and a djinn (pronounced jin) called Bartimaeus (pronounced Barty-may-us). Nathaniel summons and irascible 5000 year old djinn caled Bartimaeus to do something for him... to steal the Amulet of Samarkand form Nathaniel's rival, Simon Lovelace... But, soon, Nathaniel is caught up in a storm of guilt, murder, theft, witty comebacks and a djinn who knows his birth name...

The best part of this book was...
the way it'a an easy read... and the way it switches from being told from Bartimaeus' view, to Nathaniel's view... the differet perspectives made me laugh... Bartimaeus is an inspiring character.
This book is similar to...
Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer. The book isn't sci-fi like this one, but the wit of Bartimaeus reminded me of Holly, and Nathaniel is just as cocky as Artemis... (and at a young age too!)
The best place to read this book is...
in bed, or on the couch... somewhere where your parents won't be able to find you and distract you from reading... there are some very enthralling, nail biting moments where you won't want to be interrupted!
The soundtrack of this book should be...
the Fantasia 2000 soundtrack. That builds up suspense, just like the book does.


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