Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Title: The Amulet of Samarkand

Author: Jonathan Stroud

Genre: Fantasy, first in a series

Summary: Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, seeks not only revenge but also power beyond his assignment. To meet these ends, he summons Bartimaeus, a smart-mouthed djinni. (See his journal for a flavor.)

The Take-Away: Nathaniel immediately is over his head with Bartimaeus. It was great way to raise the stakes. Bartimaeus tells the story initial, in first person. My initial reaction was confused. I liked Bartimaeus, but he was the demon, and therefore the bad guy. I didn't want to like him.

And I was also wrong.

The rest of the story was told in the third person. The switches are entertaining and well done. The whole story couldn't be told from Bartimaeus' POV, and you'd miss his colorful language if it was all told in third.

By the end of the book, Nathaniel's character is starting to develop. He is sympathetic, but easily influenced by others. When he is assigned to a new master magician, you know he's going to take a turn, but you aren't quite sure what direction. Stroud effectively leaves you hanging for the next adventure while and more of the characters.

Recommendation: Get all three and read them back to back. You'll love the changes in Nathaniel.

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