Book Review: Bartimaeus #1: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Rating: StarStarStarStar


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.

***** ***** *****

I’ll start by saying this is the first time i’ve read something about djinnis. Yes, Bartimaeus, is one. But beware for he is not the kind who grants three wishes. Maybe he will, but he will twist it so that you’ll curse him instead of thanking him. And you don’t need to free him to get those wishes – you have to capture him and make him do what you want.

An apprentice named Nathaniel did just that. In order to get back to a magician, Simon Lovelace, who publicly humiliated him, he summoned the powerful djinni Bartimaeus to do his bidding – steal the amulet ofSamarkandthat is currently in Lovelace’s possession. This summoning is advanced, way over his education. But Nathaniel is confident. Unfortunately, Bartimaeus and other forces have other plans. Suddenly, Nathaniel is caught between pushing through with his revenge and dealing with an old djinni who has the power to crush him. Not to mention the enemies of Bartimaeus he accumulated over time.

Nathaniel is crazy but good crazy. He is intelligent and clever for his age. His rapport with Bartimaeus is such a laugh trip! At the start Nathaniel seemed like any other brat who was reprimanded by an elder – he was vindictive. The urge to revenge was so great that he concocted a plan no apprentice will think of. What, summoning a djinni as old as Bartimaeus and make him do your bidding is just a piece of cake?… not! But as the consequences of his actions unfold, he became contrite, even guilty. In the end, he decided to make things right. And what he did to defeat the enemy will make any master of his very proud.

Bartimaeus is one those characters i love to hate (because he constantly antagonizes the hero) but i’ve come to love. If Nathaniel is a brat, then Bartimaeus is one stubborn, conceited djinni. Sometimes cruel, other times he’s just plain arrogant. A powerful djinni like him can turn an apprentice’s bidding around and into his advantage, right? It is funny how he counteracts Nathaniel’s orders with his defiant actions. His past is intriguing and more so, his character. He admired Nathaniel yet at the same time he planned to get rid of Nathaniel after doing his bidding.

I liked that even as they hate each other, they’ve come to know the story behind their lives and how it led them to where they are. They understood each other despite the hate. I liked that the ending wrapped up with Nathaniel and Bartimaeus looking after each other. Could they have become friends?… nah. That’s pushing it too far. Lol

I wanna know more of Bartimaeus’ past. I wanna know what happens to Nathaniel being an apprentice to a new master. And i wanna know where Nathaniel’s and Bartimaeus’ relationship will go. I’m sure i won’t be disappointed with their bantering. Though i’m rooting for Nathaniel to outwit the djinni… Ha!

This book is witty and funny. Perfect for a summer read.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Bartimaeus #1: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

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