Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Bartimaeus Trilogy (plus one)
The Amulet of Samarkand
The Golem's Eye
The Ring of Solomon
by Jonathan Stroud
Madeline had been telling me to read this series and I finally did. What actually hooked me on them was the audiobook. The reading, by Simon Jones, is just fantastic. Bartimaeus, the 5,000 djinni is a sarcastic, egotistical, egocentric troublemaker. He is also charming and hilarious. To me, most of the charm comes from Jones' voice. He is and always will be Bartimaeus to me.
The trilogy involves Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice who summons Bartimaeus all on his own. He's smart enough to have made a foolproof plan for keeping the djinni from breaking the power Nathaniel has over him. It's a good thing, because Bartimaeus really doesn't like the boy. But it's his duty to serve his master.
The books are set in an alternate reality London where the government is run by magicians and common folk are considered to be inferior humans, fit only for manual labor and menial jobs. The chapters alternate between Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, the djinni's being told in first person and the magician's in third person. It's weird, but it works somehow.
Nathaniel has a great desire to become a great magician and to rise to the highest level of government. The problem is, he's not cut out to be part of the greedy, cut-throat world of magicians. The three books of the trilogy takes Nathaniel through that journey and follows Kitty, a commoner, in her quest to change the balance of power.
There's so much involved in these three books it would be difficult to describe it all.
The fourth book, a prequel to the series takes place during the time of Solomon, king of Israel and master of an extremely powerful magical token - a ring. Asmira, captain of the guard in Sheba, is sent to assassinate Solomon and take possession of the ring. Bartimaeus becomes involved as the slave of one of Solomon's magicians.
I loved these books. I hope that Stroud continues to write more and that Simon Jones continues to read them. With Bartimaeus' 5,000 year history, Jonathan Stroud certainly has lots of material from which to draw.
The fabulous Simon Jones