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The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trilogy (Hardcover)) Hardcover – 1 Oct 2003
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About the Author
Jonathan Stroud (www.jonathanstroud.com) is the author of four previous books in the Lockwood & Co. series as well as the New York Times best-selling Bartimaeus books, and the stand-alone titles Heroes of the Valley, The Leap, The Last Siege, and Buried Fire. He lives in England with his wife and three children.
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The book begins with the first summoning of a djinn called Bartimaeus by a magician's apprentice called Nathaniel. Nathaniel orders the Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from a very powerful magician and minister called Simon Lovelace. One thing leads to another and, sooner than you can say "N'gorso the Mighty", there's murder, mystery and mayhem - with the added bonus of some young and mysterious human revolutionaries. Needless to say, Lovelace is at the heart of the wrongdoing and the Amulet is clearly at the crux of his dastardly plans.
Nathaniel and Bartimaeus are the story's central characters and the focus of the story alternates back and forth between them. As things progress, we learn more about both our heroes - for example, how Nathaniel came to be a magician's apprentice, why he's picking on Simon Lovelace and a little about Bartimaeus' former masters.
Stroud has taken an interesting approach - he writes Nathaniel's story ("Nathaniel's eyes narrowed"), but the djinni tells his own ("I sat on the ground cross-legged"). It's an approach that works superbly. Bartimaeus, for me, is the star of the show - the parts of the book that focus on him are among the funniest I've read in a long time. Caustic, sardonic, irreverent and hopelessly vain, he spends much of the book hoping to betray his master and plotting his downfall. The footnotes included in his sections also allow him to explain certain things or wander slightly off-topic. With a film of this book already in the pipeline, I can see fights breaking out in Hollywood for this part.
This book has been described as the next Harry Potter - well, they are both about boys and magic, but that's about as far as it goes. While there's no-one in the Harry Potter series as funny as Bartimaeus, there's nobody in this book with the menace of Voldemort. Where Harry attends Hogwart's and has Hermione and Ron, it would appear that Nathaniel has rarely even left his master's house and no friends his own age. Furthermore, while there's barely a flaw in Harry's character, Nathaniel has many. However, "The Amulet of Samarkand" deserves to be every bit as popular as any book in the Harry Potter series - it's an excellent story that's very well told.
The subject matter is not my usual choice but I felt the combination of fantasy with the reality of possible secret 'goings on' in parliament worked well together.
I feel that the book is aimed at teenagers aswell as adults providing entertainment on different levels dependant on the reader. The use of footnotes is not something that I have experienced in a novel before but they provide some great insights into the characters and their history and are very amusing - so don't miss them out.
Essentially the story is about a young magician (Nathaniel) who seeks revenge on an adult magician (Simon Lovelace) who has made fun of him....oh yes and who also wants to overthrow the Prime Minister. Nathaniel needs to use the powers of a djinni (Bartimaeus) to do his bidding and get revenge upon the magician. This leads both of them into all sorts of trouble which is why the book moves along at such a rapid pace.
I would recommend this book to anyone 10 years old and above and would hope you get as much enjoyment out of it as I did.
Can't wait for the next book!!!!!
In terms of imagination, this book far outstrips Harry Potter. I recognised some of the magical background in the novel, having read the odd text myself out of interest, and one senses that the author did plenty of careful research - the result is that, though the book is a fantasy, there is a sense of versimilitude and even in its wierdest moments it remains convincing. In terms of character depth and insight, I thought this surpassed HP5; Nathaniel is a far more convincing angry adolescent than HP.
Above all, the author has an elegant, seductive, intelligent prose style. Maybe this isn't as amazing as Pullman, but it comes close and I cannot wait to read the rest of the triology.
This book deserves the hype!
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That was a pretty good read overall. Lots of action, spying, conspiracy and magic to gobble through.Read more