The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

(9.5/10) This hilarious, electrifying thriller will enthral readers of all ages.

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!

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6 positive reader review(s) for The Amulet of Samarkand

14 positive reader review(s) in total for the The Bartimaeus Trilogy series


The Amulet of Samarkand reader reviews

from USA

Demon magic, fun characters, loved it. I'm a fan of this author's Lockwood and Co series as well.

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).

from Singapore

Brilliant book! Made me laugh out loud, gasp, even shed a tear at one point. Must read! :)

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???

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!

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.

from Barford

Captivating writing style, fantastic character interactions. Laughed out loud all the way through.

9.4/10 from 8 reviews

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All reviews for Jonathan Stroud's The Bartimaeus Trilogy series

The Ring of Solomon

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 0 written by Jonathan Stroud

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 [...]

Published: 2010

Our rating: 9.5 | positive reader reviews


The Amulet of Samarkand

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 1 written by Jonathan Stroud

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 [...]

Published: 2003

Our rating: 9.5 | positive reader reviews


The Golem's Eye

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 2 written by Jonathan Stroud

Two years have passed and the young magician Nathaniel is rising fast through the government ranks. But his career is suddenly threatened by a series of terrifying crises. [...]

Published: 2004

Our rating: 9.3 | positive reader reviews


Ptolemy's Gate

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Book 3 written by Jonathan Stroud

Three years on from the events in The Golem's Eye, the magicians' rule in London is teetering on a knife-edge, with strikes, riots and general unrest. The Prime Min [...]

Published: 2005

Our rating: 9.7 | positive reader reviews


More Jonathan Stroud reviews

The Screaming Staircase

by Jonathan Stroud

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in... For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A nu [...]

Series: Lockwood & Co #1
Published: 2013

Score: 92

Our rating: 9.1 | 1 positive reader reviews


The Whispering Skull

by Jonathan Stroud

Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is des [...]

Series: Lockwood & Co #2
Published: 2014

Score: 91

Our rating: 9.1 | 0 positive reader reviews


The Hollow Boy

by Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood & Co. might be the smallest (some might say shambolic) Psychic Detection Agency in London. But its three agents - Lockwood, Lucy and George - are exceptional T [...]

Series: Lockwood & Co #3
Published: 2015

Score: 100

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews


The Creeping Shadow

by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills. But now Loc [...]

Series: Lockwood & Co #4
Published: 2016

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.5 | 2 positive reader reviews


Heroes of the Valley

by Jonathan Stroud

Listen then, and I'll tell you again of the Battle of the Rock. But none of your usual wriggling, or I'll stop before I've begun... Halli loves the old stories [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2009

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.4 | 5 positive reader reviews


The Amulet of Samarkand: A Bartimaeus graphic novel

by Jonathan Stroud

Nathaniel, a young magician’s apprentice, has revenge on his mind. Desperate to defy his master and take on more challenging spells, he secretly summons the 5,000-yea [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2011

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews


The Ghost of Shadow Vale

by Jonathan Stroud

Glam killed the monster of Shadow Vale-but he also died in the fight. Now Glam's ghost has come back and he's worse than the monster ever was... Barrington Stoke sp [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2009

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews


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