Book View: The Amulet of Samarkand

Book View: The Amulet of SamarkandThe Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Bartimaeus #1
Published by Miramax on September 30th 2003
Pages: 462

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.


Short & Sweet: I must first comment on the fantastic narration of this novel, told from two points of view and the audiobook did a fantastic job with capturing the two characters. Of the two, I found myself enjoying Bartimaeus the most, the djinni who has been summoned by Nathaniel to aide him in getting revenge on a fellow magician. Unfortunately, this turns out for the worst and a small prank ends up putting Nathaniel and all he loves in grave danger. I love this book, reminding me a bit of a Harry Potter world – the ones with magic and those without, only this society is aware of the magicians and they are held higher in the society.

Final Verdict: For such a long book, it really captivated my attention and kept me reading until the end. I can't wait to see what will happen next in the series. A definite must read for fans of high fantasy and adventure.


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