The Amulet of Samarkand

June 16, 2016

Bartimaeus #1. Author: Jonathan Stroud.


Nathaniel is a boy dealing with many problems. As a magical apprentice, he was taken from his parents at five and given new magician caretakers. His teacher is cold and hard, and looks down on him; only the kindness of his wife makes it bearable. Publicily humiliated at age eleven, Nathaniel has been studying feverishly for a year and is ready to enact his revenge. First, he’ll summon a fourth-class djinni…
Bartimaeus is a five-thousand year old djinni, and he knows that Nathaniel knows nothing of problems. Enslaved by one magician after another through the years, magically bound to carry out their bidding over anything else, all he wants is a bit of rest. Instead, an impudent twelve-year old has mastered the spells to control him, and now orders him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand. Bartimaeus knows exactly how much trouble they’re both plunging into… but what can he do? He’s only a djinni.

My Thoughts:

It took me a little while to warm up to the characters, neither of whom are particularly likeable. The first-person narrator has a particular knack for wry humor of a new sort, often building up a purple-prose description – and deflating it abruptly; this kept me going, and once I was into the story I quite enjoyed it.

Content Review:

Sexual content: Djinni considers appearing as naked female human to throw off his (male) summoner. Mention of succubus. Scrying imp complaining about hard work says that most magicians use their glasses to spy on people they fancy in the shower.

Language: 2 d***, 2 hell

Violence: Some fighting between djinni. Character knocks two boys on their heads with his tail. A disobedient boy is beaten by a man. A boy sets stinging mites on a man. Character tries to torture a djinni with magic. Magical explosion in building. Off-screen guard is killed. Fist-fight between spirits. One jinni eats two others. A spirit-type eats a man.


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