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The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand (2003)

by Jonathan Stroud

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bartimaeus (1)

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» See also 332 mentions

English (210)  German (7)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Vietnamese (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (223)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
I am so mad at myself that it took me seven years to get to this book–it is incredible! Stroud masterfully weaves mythology, magic, and intrigue together to create a compelling story.

The story is told from two points of view–Nathaniel, the magician, and Bartimaeus, the demon he calls to help him get revenge upon another magician. However, Nathaniel very clearly isn’t quite sure of exactly what he’s doing, so he makes a lot of mistakes along the way and ends up in a much bigger mess than expected.

At first, I was only enjoying Bartimaeus’s point of view. Nathaniel was way too naive and annoying for me to truly latch onto him as an enjoyable main character, but he did grow on me as he gained more experience and went through tremendous growth as a character. All the characters, actually, are incredible. The great thing about having two different viewpoints is that we get to see magicians from their own point of view (how great they are and what great services they do for people) and from the demons’–or djinni’s–point of view (they’re little more than parasites that steal the djinni’s magic). Having this complex push and pull within the magical world creates for a lot of interesting relationships between a djinni and the magician who calls him. I really enjoyed the complexity that is added to the world because of this.

My favorite part of this book, however, is how well the story itself is crafted. There is tons of worldbuilding, but it never gets dull, because Stroud weaves it into a thrilling plot that made me keep turning the pages.

I’m so excited to continue the series and see what sort of adventures Nathaniel and Bartimaeus get into next; I definitely recommend this for fans of fantasy, particularly for those interested in the more historical demon-summoning type of magic.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Jan 9, 2019 |
A young boy is sold into an apprenticeship as a magician. This is in an alternate reality of London, where magic is real and demons are frequently summoned by magicians to do their will. Like in the Magician's Apprentice, the young boy soon becomes impatient with the slow pace for learning which his master has set and secretly learns just enough spells to get him in very big trouble.

This was a page turner, but I'm not drawn to read more. I didn't much care for the main characters, and I didn't much care for the world they lived in. Perhaps if I were a different age, I would have liked it more. It is meant for young adults. ( )
  MrsLee | Jan 5, 2019 |
Bartimaeus is one of the oldest and most powerful djinni in the world. Therefore he is utterly shocked, and a bit dismayed, to find himself summoned by 11-year-old apprentice magician Nathaniel. His new master sets him on a task to steal the Amulet of Samarkand. The Amulet is in the possession of the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace. Nathaniel is adamant - he must have the Amulet. So Bartimaeus sets off on his task which starts a chain of events that neither djinni nor master could see coming.

The Amulet of Samarkand is the first in the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. This was an unexpectedly fun read and one hell of an adventure. Set in an alternate London, the story alternates between Bartimaeus and Nathaniel's points of view. Bartimaeus is such a great character. When you've been around for 5000 years, you tend to pick up a few things. He's smart, clever, witty and his sarcastic sense of humor is hilarious. Especially important is to read all of the footnotes as you go, they really enhance the story. I found Nathaniel to be very sympathetic. It took me a while to warm up to him but I did truly like him by the end. While they might not have a normal friendship as such, there is definitely respect between the two.

I like the world Stroud has created. Magicians are the ruling class and their power comes from what kinds of demons they can summon. It ended up being a different take on the concept, very creative. This also means that most magicians are power hungry and are huge jerks in their pursuit of power. Nathaniel is not exempt from this, though he has other qualities that make him more likeable than the average magician.

While this is the first in a trilogy the story is fully contained and all lose ends are wrapped up. It easily reads as stand alone. ( )
  Narilka | Dec 21, 2018 |
This was very fun at first—imaginative and humorous—but it is basically a children's book, and by halfway through the lack of depth wore thin. (From the beginning, I thought the novel would raise interesting social issues, with Britain ruled by a tyrannical class of slaveholder magicians, but this never developed.) It's not as bad as a lot of fantasy, so someday I still might continue the series. ( )
  breic | Nov 14, 2018 |
Signed by the author - no 1029 of 1500.
  nickharris792 | Oct 8, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Stroudprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grant, MelvynCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Nathaniel is a young magician's apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hotshot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of everyone he knows, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who's boss. With revenge on his mind, he masters one of the toughest spells of all: summoning the all-powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, Nathaniel finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, blackmail, and revolt.
Haiku summary
Wizards rule England
with help of pouting demons.
Man, they're sarcastic.

A young magician
and his mischievous djinni
foil conspiracy.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786852550, Paperback)

Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny." If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn't tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.

Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine. In British author Jonathan Stroud's excellent novel, the first of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, the story switches back and forth from Bartimaeus's first-person point of view to third-person narrative about Nathaniel. Here's the best part: Bartimaeus is absolutely hilarious, with a wit that snaps, crackles, and pops. His dryly sarcastic, irreverent asides spill out into copious footnotes that no one in his or her right mind would skip over. A sophisticated, suspenseful, brilliantly crafted, dead-funny book that will leave readers anxious for more. (Ages 11 to adult) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:16 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace.

» see all 10 descriptions

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