Wednesday, May 24, 2006
The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud, 2003
Apprentice magician Nathaniel shouldn’t know how to command fourth-level demons, yet he summons Bartimaeus, a rogue djinni of ancient memory and contemporary wit. Bartimaeus steals a powerful amulet from an unscrupulous magician, and boy and djinni thwart his scheme to annihilate the British government. An interesting combination of comical hijinks and malevolent danger set in modern, if magical, London, Nathaniel’s “quest” is more a vendetta than a journey. Still, its weight, balanced against Bartimaeus’ engaging humor, raise both the story’s stakes and the reader’s enjoyment. Neither epic nor “high,” though strongly recommended.