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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
What a book! This is the first one I've read in many years that had me laughing out loud in bursts of surprise. It reminds me pleasantly of Shrek 2. There are so many jokes lying in wait that you can hardly digest them all at once. The best part of the book is the sarcastic attitude it takes towards itself, and towards all fantasy/sci-fi books in general. For example, the...
Published on June 28 2004 by zzll

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't like Nathaniel!
I liked Bartimaeus, but didn't like the relationship between Bartimaeus and Nathaniel. . .Nathaniel is so stupid I really didn't care what happened to him and actually stopped reading the book because of him. . .but then I wanted to see what happened to Bartimaeus so started reading again.(took me a long time to go back to the book though!) I think the author (Jonathan...
Published on April 22 2004 by magiclizzy


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, June 28 2004
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
What a book! This is the first one I've read in many years that had me laughing out loud in bursts of surprise. It reminds me pleasantly of Shrek 2. There are so many jokes lying in wait that you can hardly digest them all at once. The best part of the book is the sarcastic attitude it takes towards itself, and towards all fantasy/sci-fi books in general. For example, the back cover. The bold "summary" was so trite, babbling on about London, magicians, and promised drama, that I almost skipped over it. Then I saw the footnotes. After that I couldn't wait to read it. The author makes fun of the typical melodrama found in fantasy books (when a main character dies, the other characters neither retreat into typical dripping tears nor stony silence--both of which would make them less believable) by speaking through the saucy Bartimaeus. The alternating points of view were done amazingly well, making sure the reader didn't drown too much in either sarcasm or melancholy. Bartimaes is hilarious, but you can detect the kindness/soft side (shown in a few brief references to the Egyptian boy he once knew) he that he hides under his perpetual jokes. And Nathaniel is wonderfully complex. The result is absolutely brilliant. If you've read the usual fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl) and want something witty, clever, and just as original, read this book. I couldn't put it down. And the ending is marvelously thought out. The ending is solid, well-done, and satisfactory, but it leaves enough hints at what the sequel will be about. When it comes out, I will certainly buy it. This has truly been the best new book I've read in months. What a shame it doesn't receive the credit or fame it deserves! We hear more about books such as Eragon and Sabriel, which both lack real characters, than about The Amulet.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and new. A fantastic read., Sept. 10 2005
By 
Kie (Burnaby, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
Despite how many time people have already compared it to Harry Potter, I shall do so as well.
First of all to start off, I must say that the magic used here is quite different from the magic used in Harry Potter. Also, the atmosphere in London is much more modern than compared to how it seemed in Harry Potter. Then came the matter of the magicians... In the trilogy, they are described to be powerhungry and cold-hearted, to want nothing than to be on top of everyone, while the witches and wizards of Harry Potter rather differed in ambition and goals.
However, I enjoyed the fact that Nathaniel wasn't some bold, heroic, and unnaturally admirable kid. You can see right away that when the only people who ever loved him in his life disappear, he's slowly turns more and more into what Bartimaeus's picture of a magician. At the end of the book, you wonder if he's going to turn into that hero that fantasy books always seem to include. People may not like the thought, but the fact that Stroud chose not to go all cliche on us is certainly appraisable, definitely something dangerous that some authors would decide not to do.
Bartimaeus. Here's a character whose elements I've never read in any book in my life. Witty, sarcastic, hilarious, smart, cocky, and still prone to mistakes, his chapters were the best. With entertaining and informative footnotes (in which, I did get tired of some when I got really immersed in the book I just wanted to continue with what was happening,) while carrying his task out for his beloved master Nathaniel, the excitement never runs out if you have the right sort of mind for this book.
The story rolled on surprisingly smoothly, for a book whose author elected to have the events percieved in two different ways. Something, if you read as I reccommend, you should find out quickly enough.
A fantastic book. Amazing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Applause for the amulet. Applause indeed., April 28 2004
By 
E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird" (Manhattan, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
The publishing world is always on a constant prowl for the "next" Harry Potter series. Who is it that will steal the crown from Britain's reigning fantasy king? One of the newest contenders comes in the form of Jonathan Stroud's detailed "Bartimaeus Trilogy". The first book in this series "The Amulet of Samarkand" (other books have not, as of this review, been published in America yet) begins what many hope will become the new "it" series. Cleverly combining facets of European and Asian lore, the book is a fascinating character study into the nature of good and bad. Filled with far more complex imaginings than your average fantasy let's-throw-in-some-brief-historical-facts book, this tale is penned beautifully and is a worthy series within its own right.
We begin with a bang of a beginning. Most authors, no matter if they are writing for adults or children, like to start slowly and build their tale with a heaping helping of exposition. Not Stroud. In this book we begin with an exciting summoning of the djinni Bartimaeus by a twelve year-old boy. The boy, Nathaniel, wishes to avenge himself against a powerful wizard. As the plot follows Bartimaeus's quest to retrieve the Amulet of Samarkand (as the boy has instructed him to do) we are simultaneously brought up to speed on Nathaniel's life and world. This is London, but a sort of alternative reality London. In this world, wizards rule over the commoners (non-magic types) in government positions and teach children as apprentices. Nathaniel is such an apprentice, bound to an incompetent master. When he is shamed in front of a group of wizards by one Simon Lovelace (a man far more powerful than his own master) Nathaniel seeks nothing but revenge.
So there you have it. This is a tale about a boy and his smart alecky djinni. As the book takes pains to explain, demons (like the djinni) are regularly summoned by wizards to do their dirty work. Humans are, by and large, incapable of magic and simply summon spirits of one sort or another to do magic for them. Bartimaeus isn't thrilled by this proposition, but he is unwillingly bound to a boy that burns with hate and a bit of the old "eye for an eye". The djinni's displeasure is regularly voiced by clever footnotes placed strategically at the bottom of several pages. Often Bartimaeus's commentary is the great spice of the book. Nathaniel is a less than humorous individual, though he is capable of deadpan humor. The book is, itself, an interesting fantasy. Like the Artemis Fowl books, it has presented the reader with an unsympathetic hero. In this case, you're dealing with a proud and intelligent but ultimately foolish boy. Nathaniel is nothing so much as another version of Ged from Ursula LeGuin's "The Wizard of Earthsea". The difference here, however, is that Nathaniel doesn't grow as much as you might suspect throughout the course of the story. And here's where it all gets very very interesting. The essential nature of what is good and what is bad is all topsy-turvy. Bartimaeus is the rare character I've read in a fantasy story that is truly of an alien nature. If he does good things for others, it's usually out of some self-preserving intention or accompanied with a sly jab. Usually, Bartimaeus is willing to kill anyone and anything about him, including his own master. Don't expect these characters to follow the old buddy movie routine and grow closer over the course of the tale. These two have a lot of healthy distrust growing between them, and it's a pleasure to watch. But how easy is it to read about two people that are, for all intents and purposes, fatally flawed? Quite, as it happens.
I'm always amused at the amount of anti-"magic in Harry Potter" outrage there is in the world. Let us consider this book, for example. In this story you have characters regularly drawing pentacles on the ground to summon up demons from another realm. If there's a more objectionable idea lodged in a children's book to a heavily religious right-wing Christian conservative, I'd love to hear it. I will say right here and now that I, personally, don't find anything objectionable in this story. Bartimaeus himself makes it very clear that he despises this system wherein demons are forced as slaves to work for humans. On meeting up with an Uncle Tom type of demon, his venom is clearly displayed. Moreover, the series seems to be taking a rather anti-magician stance, though this is elaborated on less in the plot of this first book than it will in future books in the series, I imagine.
The book is nothing so much as a cross between Artemis Fowl (more likable) and Harry Potter (more detailed) with a dash of Wizard of Earthsea for color. Stroud's writing is fantastic. He has obviously detailed every inch of this new world out to the nth degree, and you never get the sense that the book has gone on too long (a flaw I found in "Inkheart") or that he doesn't know how to end it. I will state for the record that this is an incredibly enjoyable read. Bartimeus even allows himself a small jab at the Harry Potter series (see page 85 for his quip about wizards being bussed to boarding school) which is utterly in keeping with his character. And though this book wasn't overflowing with strong female characters, they exist. I suspect we'll be seeing far more of them in the future books in the series than we have thus far. Call it a hunch.
Currently this book stands at 462 pages. A hefty read, but nothing a fascinated kid won't be able to handle. I recently wrote in my review of "Mortal Engines" (highly recommend it, by the way) that that book was the true successor to Harry Potter. I may have to extend that compliment to the "Bartimaeus Trilogy". Droll and fast-paced without ever growing tiresome or annoying, this is one of the best dern books to be placed in the hands of fantasy-loving kids in a while. Give it to the young 'uns to ponder over sometime. It's well worth a gander.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definitly different..., Aug. 27 2004
This book oozes new talent. The author's voice isn't so bright and out there like Lemony Snicket but his voice is like Norah Jones, you note its softness but its powerful chords still speak.
The characters, are simply great. i'm not tired of good verses evil kids. But i won't slam down Nathaniel..in fact, i applaude him. he's real. he's smart and has wit past his required age and yet, he's tricky and shifty and thinks about only himself for his hide..with an exceptional few.
That, is the best. because the characters aren't like, "i'm on the team of good. that must mean i have to put others first!"
Bartimaeus, is funny too.
I don't have much to say except, its grip on you is..lazy. I spent my afternoon reading this book..because everytime i put it down, i thought, hm. well.. *grabs back book* its hold on you is lazy and almost invisble..and when you think you had enough, it pulls you back with the slightest of touch!
..plus it's long. i love books which i could spend hours reading for a day and still have a considerable amount to go the next.
...i am so glad that this book was on Chapters' junior booklover's contest or else i'd never quite buy it..cuz i'd be too lazy to..
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most fun I've had in years., July 11 2004
By 
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
"The Amulet Of Samarkand" is a truly great novel, filled with adventure, mystery, mysticism, and... humor! Jonathan Stroud brings his magic touch to a modern-day London run by wizards and over-run by demons. "The Amulet Of Samarkand" is one of those books that truly takes you out of your skin and plants you right in the story, sort of like the "scrying discs" in his book, you feel you're there, going through everything with the characters. Every aspect of this book is great, but it's the little things that make a book great, and Jonathan Stroud clearly understands this.
Firstly, the footnotes inserted in the chapters narrated by Bartimaeus (the leading demon in the story) were genius, witty, and gut-wrenchingly funny. He gave Bartimaeus an attitude filled with wit and wisdom at the same time. What's so great about the characters in this book, is that it feels the two main characters reverse position. The boy, Nathaniel, is actually difficult to like, whereas the demon in the story becomes the most beloved personality.
I can't wait for the next book in "The Bartimaeus Trilogy". Keep it up Jonathan Stroud! You're books are great. I recommend this book for people of all ages (excluding perhaps young children). You won't be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Amulet of Samarkand is Great!, July 5 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
I loved this book! I liked the djinni because they could change shape. Stroud really described what's in the story so that you can picture it well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amulet of Samarkand Review, July 3 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
First of all I want to say I love this book. Its very funny and interesting. I couldn't put it down. It switches back between magician apprentice Nathaniel and Bartimaeus a djinn. Bartimaeus adds footnotes which are funny and informative. The footnotes sometimes makes you forget what happened in the book, but not often. All you have to do is go back and reread like the last sentence to remember. The book is about Nathaniel a magicians apprentice who got humiliated by another magician for giving correct answers. He summons Bartimaeus a djinn with a big personality to help him get his revenge. When Bartimaes goes to steal from the magician who humiliated Nathaniel he encounters a few problems. Those problems get bigger and multiply as the story goes on. One little thing I didn't like about the book is how Nathaniel's master's wife is supposed to be all kind and sweet when really she's not much better than her husband. Other than that this book rocks, and should totally get the 5 stars I gave it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, July 1 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
What a wonderful book. I couldn't put it down. The two main characters are entertaining and complex. It was interesting to watch their relationship develop. I can't wait to read Book Two!
My twelve year old son, who hates to read, reluctantly agreed to read this book. He loves it and can't put it down!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fan Forum, June 25 2004
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
This book is amazing, and you just have to read it. The world Jonathan created is great and dark. Bartimaeus footnoots are very funny, and you just have to hate Nathaniel.
(...)
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4.0 out of 5 stars not as grown up as Harry, June 22 2004
By 
M. M. Murray "Princess Buttercup" (Houston, TX) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Amulet of Samarkand (Hardcover)
I am a huge Harry Potter fan and have been trying to find books in the meantime to carry me until the next book is released. I bought this based on reviews here, as well as The Today Show. I found the footnotes throughout the book extremely distracting and tiresome. In most cases, they could have been incorporated into the text and sometimes were repititions of what the author had already stated. Besides that though, I thought it was an enjoyable read, but I felt like I was reading a pre-teen to teen novel, which I never felt while reading Harry Potter or even Eragon. I did enjoy a new spin on the ability of magicians, in that, they had no power without summoning of spirits or demons. Almost a genie in the bottle approach. It will be interesting to see how this series continues and I will most likely get the second book. As for recommendations: either get a used copy or borrow from a friend if you're an adult. Or read your child's after they are through.
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The Amulet of Samarkand
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (Hardcover - Sept. 30 2003)
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