The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy #1)
by Jonathan Stroud
I purchased all three of these books on my nook and have just gotten around to reading the first one. I buy a lot of books and borrow a lot from the library and have parts of four books emailed to me every day and, it gets to be a lot of books to choose from. I've got close to 1000 books on my nook at this point. This week, I've actually been looking at the lists of recommended books that get emailed to me thinking, no more, not right now. I do, of course, keep them in their own folder called, of course, BOOKS, in my email, so I can refer to them later on.
So, this is book one in the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Bartimaeus is a millenia old djinni who has been summoned by a young magician's apprentice, Nathaniel. The jury is still kind of out on Nathaniel. He's smart and determined, but he acts out without thinking things through. The story is told in a back and forth narrative. We hear from Bartimaeus himself, and for some weird reason, he has footnotes in his sections. If it were written third person and he were chiming in, I might understand footnotes, but the Bartimaeus sections are written in the first person. I just felt like they were the stuff that got edited out of the book and this was Stroud's trick to stuff them back in. The other part of the book is told in the third person and covers everything else.
Nathaniel is five when parents sell him to the government, a magician's counsel which is running the world. He is accepted as the apprentice of a low to mid level government magician, Arthur Underwood, who has neither the temperament or the skill to create much of a magician. Nathaniel has some very good tutors and Mrs. Underwood is very kind to him. Arthur gives Nathaniel a section of a library to read his way through and he does, and moves on to greater things. He does not allow the boy to do much of anything. So, he assumes he is clueless and has no idea that he's studying way ahead of the magic he's been introduced to. Underwood has been informed by the tutors that he is excelling in his work and when better magicians come to the house, Underwood allows them to mock Nathaniel. Especially an uppity magician named Simon Lovelace, who has designs on great power. As retribution, Nathaniel orders the djinni to get him the Amulet of Samarkand, which Lovelace just happens to have.
There's plenty of action, plenty of political intrigue and good storytelling. I just don't know how much I like the characters. I have avoided moving on to the second book so far, because Nathaniel shows signs of being the kind of person who would be just like Lovelace, our antagonist, given the chance. I may give him the benefit of the doubt. I couldn't stand Artemis Fowl in the first book and continued on. I think with that series, I liked other characters, so I had plenty of time for Artemis to grow on me, which he did. Maybe Nathaniel deserves the same chance.