The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Bartimaeus: The Amulet of Samarkand is a novel which successfully bridges the divide between children’s and adult fiction. The story of an ambitious young demonologist and an ancient and exasperated demon, it is a challenging and sophisticated read for young readers of perhaps 12 years and upwards and a witty entertaining and fast-moving adventure story for adults.
Learning that Bartimaeus: The Amulet of Samarkand is the story of a young apprentice magician, cruelly bereft of his parents and lonely and neglected in his foster home, we may feel that we are in over-familiar territory. Stroud’s novel, however, is very different in tone from the work of J K Rowling.
Nathaniel’s parents were not tragically killed, but sold their little boy to the government (a magical hierarchy) to be an apprentice magician, knowing that they would never see him again. There is no comforting Dumbledore-type figure to provide a moral centre. The kindest character in Bartimaeus is Mrs Underwood, the wife of the magician to whom Nathaniel is apprenticed. Other than his drawing teacher, Ms Lutyens, from whom he is soon separated, she is perhaps the only person to show Nathaniel affection. In turn, Nathaniel expresses a love and loyalty to her that is otherwise all but absent from his life. Mrs Underwood’s failure to challenge her husband’s harshness and mistreatment of his apprentice, however, makes her seem somewhat weak and ineffectual.
We may feel sympathy for the hero of Bartimaeus; a lonely, friendless young magician, subject to outrageous repression and unkindness by the adults around him, but he is not an overly sympathetic child. Far superior in ability to his mediocre master, he studies advanced magic in solitude and secrecy, for motives that are not pretty, however understandable.
The demon Bartimaeus is disgusted to be successfully summoned by the ambitious twelve year old and, even more so, when Nathaniel compels him to undertake a dangerous and difficult mission. Their relationship is not cosy, but governed on either side by fear and constraint. The perspective of Bartimaeus, the millennia old demon who relates a great part of the narrative, provides a cynical, humorous and entirely unsentimental view of events.
Forced by the boy’s precocious powers to steal the legendary Amulet of Samarkand from the well-guarded house of powerful magician, Simon Lovelace, Bartimaeus is plunged into a series of perilous situations, many times escaping destruction only by a hairbreadth. When the demon finds the locket and uncovers something of how it came to be in the possession of Simon Lovelace, both Bartimaeus and Nathaniel find themselves entangled in a world of murder, magic, intrigue and high politics, the stakes higher than either of them dreamed. Nathaniel pays a very high cost for his overweening pride and things will never be quite the same again…
Bartimaeus: the Amulet of Samarkand is highly recommended as an enthralling, darkly humorous read for older children and adults!
This The Amulet of Samarkand book review was written by Daniel Offer
All reviews for: The Bartimaeus Trilogy
The Ring of Solomon
The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 0
The year is 950 BC and the self-proclaimed master djinni Bartimaeus is to be found causing chaos whilst serving at the court of King Solomon in Jerusalem. But with the arri...
The Amulet of Samarkand
The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 1
When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation...
Have you read The Amulet of Samarkand?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Amulet of Samarkand reader reviews
Aimee from USA
Demon magic, fun characters, loved it. I'm a fan of this author's Lockwood and Co series as well.
Jamey from Feuer
The wizard Nathaniel is apprenticed to is named UnderWOOD, not Underhill. That's kind of a large error. The novels... all of them, are brilliant. Stroud displays a deft hand with pacing and a scathing wit. (Ah, Underhill is Frodo's travelling name isn't it? Changed that now, thanks Jamey - Lee, Fantasy Book Review).
Sakshi from Singapore
Brilliant book! Made me laugh out loud, gasp, even shed a tear at one point. Must read! :)
Nathan from Pamilan
There is just no telling much about these books. They are simply marvelous and electrifying. The author being a very capable twister of the tale almost wills you into his captivity and takes you through a roller coaster ride that is full of unexpected hues and pop!!!! You have another foliot to completely reverse the gear. Twice I read this book and no other experience was so fulfilling. So enjoyable is the read that to say goodbye to the book seems like the epitome of death!! This is the awesome-est book that you could ever read.. Now why is Stroud being so slow in bringing out another series centered around the same world???
Harrison from Indiana
I simply loved these books. The story had the perfect amount of twists and turns. Unlike many fantasy novels this book even had a good taste of humor in it!
Edgar from United Kingdom
A tantalizing tale, which dominates with its footnotes and quirky comments, in spite of that The Amulet of Samarkand still makes me feel as though this was just another run-of-the-mill, unexceptional work undistinguished, bog-standard highflyer.
Sarah from Barford
Captivating writing style, fantastic character interactions. Laughed out loud all the way through.
9.4/10 from 8 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend. There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary m...
The Discworld Series
On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an avaricious but inept wizard, ...
In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn't be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He's awfully grumpy. Plus, he's been ...
A Lord of the Rings for the 21st century. Only a lot shorter. And funnier. And completely different. Conor thought he was an average teenager. OK, so his father only had on...
When young Jimbo Mambo books a room with Captain and Mrs Fanshaw in their Northernville lodging house, he is gradually introduced to their bizarre social circle. However, n...
May Contain Traces of Magic
There are all kinds of products. The good ones. The bad ones. The ones that stay in the garage mouldering for years until your garden gnome makes a home out of them. Most a...
The third planet out from the star was blue, with green splodges. Dirt. Oh, the bomb thought. And then its courage, determination and nobility-of-spirit subroutines cut in,...
A Heist Too Far
Mallik, an assassin with a short temper and an assortment of sharp weapons, Dick Swede a.k.a The Black Moustache, an almost famous highwayman, and Jules Van Jives, a scruff...
If Pigs Could Fly
"West Kensington Paranormal Detective Agency. Doctor Ravinder Shah speaking. No case too weird, no problem too bizarre. Strangeness a specialty. How can I help you?&qu...
Far away in the realm of Mythos, an evil entity has broken free of its prison to darken the land. However, entrusted with her father’s magic scroll – the only h...
The Banned Underground: The Amulet of Kings
Will Macmillan Jones
What could be worse? Having to take a holiday with an aunt who turns people into frogs? Or battling the local dark lord? Or getting involved with a jazz-loving bog troll an...
To Say Nothing of the Dog
When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complex...
Bingo Sac Grabbins is asked by the coughing wizard Gandef and some (oddly Welsh) dwarves to help them relieve the great dragon Smug of his gold....
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended contemporary / urban fantasy books/series
- Recommended comic fantasy
- Recommended books/series featuring wizards and magicians
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself King, and traitors at every turn. The Five Kingdoms and Sarth have assembled a fleet of ships unlike any the world has ever seen and they intend to purge the Pirate Isles once a...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...