ë The Amulet of Samarkand ì Download by ✓ Jonathan Stroud This book had some ground to make up to begin with because after checking its copyright date, all I could think was, It s a bookabout a magic apprenticein Englandwritten after Harry Potter And that meant that I was skeptical, although not to the degree that I thought the main character would be named Barry Cotter or something.
Well, there is one big way in which it s like Harry PotterI stayed up all night reading it.
This is a FANTASTIC book, one that suggests that Harry Potter books don t have to be just a phenomenon, but could be a genre as well, as long as there are people out there who have the capacity, as Jonathan Stroud does, to create new worlds While Harry Potter may always be on the top of the heap better protagonists , don t make me choose between Dobby and Bartimaeus it will only end in house elf tears.
Now, Stroud s magical rules, the key to success in the genre, are simple, spirits control magic, magicians control spirits Now, if Krazy Christians thought Harry Potter was warping little kids minds, then I m surprised they haven t caught on to this series, with its pentacle circles and summoning demons The plot works, though between action, it can slow down considerably, but the magical scenes are pretty fantastic, and, while HP has managed to sadden me on occasion, this book was the first that scared me with its monsters.
But the jewel in the crown is Bartimaeus While I imagine writing books can be hard for some people, writing a character like Bartimaeus must make Stroud love his job Barty s sarcastic, powerful, arrogant, informative, and all in all, seeing the magical world through his asides and footnotes makes the book Unlike early Harry Potters, Stroud does not provide explanations of magic with a lengthy paragraph Instead, our teacher is the salty djinni, who wise cracks his way through our magical education.
All in all, his character would be worth the read, but all of the magic created by Stroud delights You d be surprised how original someone can be post Hogwarts.
Such a wise cracking djinn, such a tiny, jerkish upstart You will absolutely devour this book It s hilarious Told from the very different viewpoints of Bartimaeus a smart aleck djinn who has lived thousands of years and has nothing to show for it but an I rock you don t attitude and Nathaniel 12 year old jerkwad apprentice whose lifelong dream is to be a huge im portant government official and have millions of obedient djinn slaves at his fingertips Bartimaeus isn t making it easy for him this book is a full of humor and helps us to know the true meaning of friendship a little better Even if the friends sometimes hate each other for a while This unlikeliest of pairs will do their best to undermine a conspiracy against the fat, lazy, corrupt government and share a few moments that will make you laugh out loud in the process.
Within the first few sentences my heart sank Oh no, I thought, fanciful purple prose attempting to set a magical aura about the opening scene GOTCHA shouted Stroud Well played, sir, well played.
One thing The Amulet of Samarkand does not do is take itself too seriously That was a relief I had approached this with trepidation I d heard good things, but I wasn t in the mood for some heavy going in a kiddies fantasy world with evil baddies, precocious sprites, etc No, instead what you get with this book is a relaxed tone, a great sense of humor and a worthwhile adventure Normally I don t go in for pseudo sci fi or fantasy that includes that 4th wall breaker the sarcastic narrator with a modern sensibility and a sassy tongue, but this one works It s humor, mostly derived from Bartimaeus the wisecracking cynical djinni summoned to do a boy s will, reminded me of P.
G Wodehouse, while its snide self satisfaction was reminiscent of Harry Harrison s work, especially his character Slippery Jim of Stainless Steel Rat It s good, self referrential stuff like that that doesn t disturb the suspension of disbelief, at least not for me The action follows the aforementioned snide demon like djinni and a petulant boy yeah, not a lot to choose from there in the main character line I mean, I don t require a white knight to side with as my story s hero, but rooting for a coupla dicks can be tough Yet Stroud makes it work By the end you re pulling for these two to save the day The lead up to that end by the way does drag a bit just before it breaks into the exciting climax It s one of the book s few faults Another would be how the pov flitters back and forth between the two main characters at breakneck speed by the end too much for my taste, but that s a minor, personal annoyance and doesn t really damage the story too much In the end, this is a 4 Star book that gets an extra star from me for pure enjoyment reasons
If the quality of a book rested solely on its plot, this would be an excellent novel The general plot is, of course, standard fantasy fare save the world but its details and the world built to drive it is unique Also, there appears to be a second plot running under the main one which will obviously be continued in the later books, and this plot seems much promising.
Story wise, this first installment in The Bartimaeus Trilogy is respectably good However, the writing failed to appeal to me in many ways that, were they not already in my possession, I might not even bother with the next two books Jonathan Stroud somehow manages to write with so much distance between the narrator s and the readers even when he s telling the story in first person through Bartimaeus This is partly because Bartimaeus is vain and patronizing, but mostly because even the first person narrative sounds like a third person omniscient storyteller is telling it, only with I s.
The gratuitous footnotes did not help I ve seen authors incorporate even the most long winded of footnotes smoothly and sparingly that they don t disrupt the narrative This book has too much of them, however, and most of them were either useless or flat out unamusing It makes me wonder if Mr Stroud let an editor touch his book he is, after all, an editor himself Some of the footnotes are entertaining, but halfway through the book I was so sick of Bartimaeus self satisfied, conceited remarks that I wanted to scream every time I saw a superscript A number of the useful footnotes could also have been incorporated into the normal narrative with a bit of rearrangement It would have been easier to absorb, would have saved me from moving my eyes, and would have kept the book flowing smoothly.
To cap off the distant, flat narrative, and the distracting footnotes, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus are so remarkably unsympathetic, I felt none of the usual drive to finish a book as soon as possible because I really didn t care much about what was going to happen to them I like the flawed hero as much as the next I ve even written my share of really crrrrrrrrazy heroes but no one in the book liked Nat and Barty apart from two very one dimensional characters and they didn t like anybody back heck, they didn t even like each other This made them so isolated, it was nearly impossible to relate to them Also, I don t know how the author managed it, but his two heroes had such a bland relationship even when fighting or hating each other.
In the end, I m of two minds about recommending this book to anybody The story is all right nothing revolutionary, though interesting but the humor falls flat, the prose is cold, and the characters are not very loveable.
This is a difficult book to rate It was very well written, with an intriguing plot and engaging wit That being said, I must admit that it was frustrating than enjoyable for me.
The main problem was that I disliked both of the main characters one is a wily demon Bartimaeus , and the other is a 12 year old kid who is way too smart for his own good Nathaniel I think you d get a similar result if you paired C.
S Lewis s Screwtape with Rowling s Draco Malfoy Don t get me wrong I love The Screwtape Letters, but with nothing enlightening to learn from the demon in question, and having to read a much longer book full of it, the negativism got old As for Nathaniel I know he had a miserable childhood and all, but he was whiny at the best of times at the worst, he was downright treacherous He used words like conscience, justice, and honor, but it always felt like he was acting out of guilt, ambition, and revenge I hoped he would change over the course of the book, but I was disappointed.
I also found Stroud s entire magical universe quite depressing portraying all magicians as parasitic slave drivers who have very little magic of their own, and instead must prey on the powers of demonic magical beings from the Other Place.
It s tempting to compare the book to the Harry Potter series Young boy Magic Sneaking around Breaking the rules Stern teachers But the similarities really end there.
In Stroud s world, magicians have no power of their own their power lies in the knowledge of how to summon and enslave spirits, like the djinni Bartimaeus, to do their will These magicians are the proud, arrogant, entitled upperclass that pretty much oppress the commoners who work the city s factories and low life jobs They are bred for government, are not allowed to themselves breed, and thus take on apprentices instead to further the magical profession.
One of the book s protagonists, Nathaniel, is one such apprentice, to the ineffectual Mr Underwood And the book s 2nd protagonist is Nathaniel s djinni of choice the book s namesake, the delightfully sarcastic, witty, and mischievous Bartimaeus There are a lot of fantastic things about this book Bartimaeus hilarious footnotes The witty style of writing The changes of style that accompany the change in POV from chapter to chapter Characters that aren t just flat out good or bad, but rather a mixed bag Real people, in other words, motivated by ambition, or revenge, or greed.
Anyway, the book is good And best of all, it s well written I can t wait to read the rest of the trilogy.
Maybe I m feeling slightly defensive, but I honestly believe some of the best books written today are in the childrens young adult section Well, the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud is a book that fits completely into the great books written for children This is one of my favorite childrens book of all time, primarily because of the great characterization of its protagonist, Bartimaeus Bartimaeus lives in a world where magicians gain their power not from magic, but rather controlling otherworld entities through words and symbols Bartimaeus is a middle ranking genie, not especially powerful, but smart enough to outdo alot of the other guys he s also slightly evil or so you d think he gets called up by an aspiring young apprentice intent on revenge and adventure ensues I would highly suggest reading the remaining two books in the series, as they just get better as they go along, and add depth to the first book The whole series is inventive and entertaining, and a very good read.
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 HimNathaniel 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 , Year Old Djinni Bartimaeus To Avenge Lovelace By Stealing The Powerful Amulet Of Samarkand, The Boy Magician Plunges Into A Situation Dangerous And Deadly Than Anything He Could Ever Imagine Like many people in the early 2000s who found themselves clasped in the claws of fierce Pottermania, I was fond of trolling the internet for Potter related stuff Somewhere, on some website probably Mugglenet , some industrious soul listed a bunch of books to read while waiting for the next book to come out This series made the list I added it to my wishlist pronto, because that s how I kept track of books I wanted to read before Goodreads was a thing.
And then I didn t actually read it for twelve years.
This turns out to have been a bad move on my part, because 1 It s a very good book well written, imaginative, clever, and does things that kid fantasy didn t do back then, and still doesn t do much of now on this later and 2 For as much as I enjoyed it as a thirty year old, I bet I would have loved it even back then when I was closer to the target demographic.
On the other hand, I might be wrong about that last bit I m not sure how receptive I would have been to the idea of a hero like Nathaniel, who is clearly on the path to the Dark Side, or whatever.
So, Nathaniel is a young magician in training The world he lives in, an alternate history Britain, is cruel and brutal People with magical gifts are taken from their parents as children, fostered with strangers, and made to forget their own names Once grown, these magicians are power seekers They rule the British Empire and subjugate practically anyone within reach This includes demons like Bartimaeus The real secret of magic is that humans only have magic by knowing how to capture and bind what they call demons magical creatures like jinni, in reality into magical slavery, and use those demons to perform magic.
The story actually begins as young Nathaniel, who has been treated poorly by not only his master, but other magicians as well He sets out to take his revenge on a magician who humiliated him, and does so by summoning the jinn Bartimaeus He tasks Bartimaeus with stealing an amulet in the magician s possession, but when the amulet turns out to be stolen, and connected to murder, both of them are quickly in over their heads The book is duel narrated by a first person POV from Bartimaeus, and a third person POV from Nathaniel Many of Nathaniel s scenes are flashbacks, and make you feel badly for him, even as he s learning to become just as awful as every other magician Bartimaeus is the real voice of this book He s funny and glib and has no patience for human beings It s a refreshing point of view to take in a book like this, and has the effect of making us think critically than we already were about what s going on with Nathaniel and the world he s a part of.
I m really glad I finally read this book It s a fantasy that is exploring other aspects of life than the hero s quest, getting the girl, defeating the Dark Lord I don t know when I will get to the second two books in the series, but I m very much looking forward to it.
This was a reread for me and a whole load of fun it is too A young and talented magician gets himself in a whole bunch of trouble when he summons a 14th level demon to help in with a task Bartimaeus, the demon called, is a hilarious character and the story is a rollicking read Recommended for all ages