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on 13 July 2007
Before I started reading this book I was totally unprepared for Stroud's style. I was expecting the conventional 'amighty demon filled with wrath bound to the courageous but challenged master' sort of thing but was rather taken aback by what I got. a)The djinn Bartimaeus always addresses the reader in 1st person, whereas his 'master' Nathaniel is dealt with in the 3rd person; and b)Bartimaeus is deeply cynical and intelligent in a way that challenges the typical fantasy pretension. However, once I overcame my shock (and Bart's ironic little footnotes) 'The Amulet of Samarkand' was worth the read.

I'm not saying it will grip you in a Potteresque fashion, for the plot sometimes moves a bit slowly, but I did enjoy reading it. Interestingly, none of Stroud's characters are very likeable --possibly he's read too much Iris Murdoch?-- and though my sympathies often went to Nathaniel as the underprivileged apprentice, he's far from being a 'hero'. Bartimaeus, by contrast, is quite profound in many of his observations about humanity and he takes the self-appointed role of social commentator from a demonically objective point of view. The fact that he frequently remarks how he will imaginatively annihilate his previous masters when he gets the chance is refreshing in face of the the manipulative, arrogant, contriving magicians. Where THEY are duplicitous, Bartimaeus is totally frank and honest.

So, the book is about Nathaniel wanting to seek revenge on the ironically named magician 'Lovelace' for an affront to himself. Initially, Nathaniel's reasons might be construed as trite but as he and Bartimaeus enact Nathaniel's revenge, they get caught up in a web of intrigue and sedition which they could not have foreseen. (It's like a thriller with magic and demons thrown in.)

I wonder whether Stroud is making any political comments what with the government being run by the magicians, rife with plotting and back-stabbing and the Prime Minister allegedly one of the worst? It's impossible to say for sure but Stroud's universe is distressingly familiar in many ways. The ending is particularly fascinating as we see Nathaniel willingly enter the foray of ambition and deception; and Bartimaeus, almost ruefully, aknowledge that Nathaniel will probably go far --such is life.

I enjoyed the climactic ending and I think you will too, for it nicely ties up the plot's main threads (though some plot lines are left purposefully dangling) and leaves us with the compelling thought that, however much humans may have progressed in civilisation, we're not all that great when exposed by the nonchalent observations of a humorous djinn who's been around the block a few times. I think it's worth a read :)
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on 21 October 2014
I had never heard of The Bartimaeus Sequence before and took a chance on it one rainy afternoon, I am so glad I did. It is funny, smart and original storytelling. The idea of magicians ruling the world and harnessing the powers of djinnis to do it is a brilliant idea and makes for a gripping story. I loved that the story intertwines the points of view of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, two very different characters. I wish the young magician was a bit more likeable as I found myself impatient to get back to the djinni's story, as he was so hilarious. I will be buying the next one in the series in about 5 minutes!
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on 8 December 2014
I don't usually read anything approaching "children's" literature (at least not since Harry Potter), and this certainly is a good cross-over, as it kept me entertained enough to buy the rest of the series and rip through them in little more than a fortnight. Some genuinely laugh-out-load moments, rip-roaring action, well drawn and complex characterisation and a bloody good story. Great Stuff.
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on 24 March 2006
This really is great fun - you've read the plot of the book so there's no need to go over it again. It's written from the two main character's points of view: they get their say alternately. Bartimaeus is a hugely engaging character, his (sometimes hilarious) explanatory footnotes are a great touch. Nathaniel is young and arrogant: reading his side of the story makes him a lot more sympathetic than he might have been otherwise. It's a lighthearted fantasy that will have you impatient to get to the next book, once you've finished this one. The pace nevers stops, the writing is excellent - I do recommend this to anyone, young or old. Read it.
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on 15 May 2016
With so many good reviews of this book I found it disappointing. I know it is an escapist story and I enjoy good fantasy novels but this one just lacked depth and became less engaging the more I read.
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on 3 June 2018
I am re-reading this series. Read it a long time ago and enjoyed it.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 11 March 2008
In short Yes it is worth it. The audio CDs are well presented and the narration is very good. The voice and dialogue for jinn are very well done. Some people will think that the central Character is less then perfect. But think - this makes the story, well thats my feel. The price tag is not too bad, if you wish to buy to hear more then once. If not try to get it from the Library, it is worth it.
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on 15 February 2018
Good condition. Just weird ink stain on a few pages making one or two words harder to read. Can't really conplain though :D
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on 23 May 2018
Rattles along
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on 27 July 2015
I love every line of every page in this book. I cannot even remember to count the number of times that I've read through it! Hilarity, suspense and whit are bursting at the seams of each and every chapter, easily my number 1.
So, Johnathan, if you should happen to glance across this comment then please know this: you are my idol!
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