Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

I have written many reviews about the Bartimaeus Trilogy, maybe because I love it so much.

The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) The Golem's Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2) Ptolemy's Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy consists of three books : The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, and Ptolemy's Gate.

A little background on how I was introduced to the story. Like a lot of the best books I've read, this wasn't a really famous book. However, having exhausted all the books in my libraries 'teen fiction' section, I was really anxious for something new to read, and I decided to pick up this book. I think this was mainly because I'd heard of it described as similar to the Harry Potter series. As it happens, this book is nothing like the Harry Potter series. That doesn't stop it from being absolutely brilliant.

The differences begin with Nathaniel, the (would-be) hero of this story. At the onset, he's a young, in-training magician. But that is where the similarities with Harry stop, because Nathaniel has never been marked out for something special (in fact, he's an apprentice to one of the most pathetic magicians there can be), he uses magic by enslaving demons (something Harry, and of course Hermione, are sure to find highly abhorrent) and his first quest in the book, for the Amulet of Samarkand, is not at all to save the world but rather to take revenge on Simon Lovelace, a magician who humiliated him. Through the three books, Nathaniel acts like a pompous brat, going from bad to worse in the second and third books. His arrogance, his selfishness and his treatment towards Bartimaeus has caused many readers to hate him. This was not the case with me, and even the harshest of readers, I am sure, will be unable to hate Nathaniel after the third book of the series.

A direct foil to Nathaniel is Kitty, a member of anti-magician's group. The way it happens in Stroud's world, the magicians are selfish, cruel, and demeaning towards the 'commoners' or the people who do not have magic. Kitty is an introduction in the second book, and slowly becomes a heroine. She is much more likeable than Nathaniel (which appears to be the reason I don't like her) and even for people like me it is very difficult to hate her, simply because the cause that she is fighting for is so right. Also, her relationship with Nathaniel, which slowly progresses from hate, to dislike, to love, is so poignantly portrayed that it really provides an emotional background for this trilogy.

I have called Nathaniel the would-be hero, and Kitty the heroine. But none of them is the real show-stopper of this series. If someone were to ask me the one and only reason to read this story it would only be - Bartimaeus.

Bartimaeus is a 5000-year-old-djinn. He's irascible, hates Nathaniel, and will do anything to just get away from earth and back to his own world. He's also the primary narrator of this story. Most authors don't have non-human narrators because they feel that humans may be unable to connect to them. This story puts all these people to shame. Bartimaeus, even when he's describing wonderful things, like being able to see in seven planes, or changing into different shapes or building (in a classic twist) the many wonders of our modern world, is altogether enjoyable. His saucy wit (especially in his wonderful footnotes) and his loyalty to a young boy called Ptolemy (the entire implications of which are revealed in the book) make him my favorite character of this series.

But the characters (wonderful as they are) are not the only reasons to read this book. The superb writing, the great plots, and the wonderful climax are all really good reasons to read this book. This book is full of humor, action, drama, romance, murder, fantasy and a hell lot of craziness, which makes it perfect for readers of all types. Stroud breaks nearly all common fantasy stereotypes (starting with "magicians are good and demons are bad") and with quotes like the falling which will make you laugh, cry and re-read the book:

One magician demanded I show him an image of the love of his life. I rustled up a mirror.

Final words: Recommended for children of all-ages, be it five or fifty. Read for a fun experience with unexpected layers packaged with brilliant writing and a great perspective on the world.


  1. heyyyy!!! i absolutely LOVE this blog of i know which ones to read and which ones to avoid! lol!....btw u shud be a writer yourself!!! srsli....i like the way you write!!! (=

  2. Aanal!! Thank you so much! :)
    Oh, and if you want to read some of my writing, check out the link in my 'links' column on the left side which says 'my first novel.'

  3. yeah i checked it out and downloaded it!!! =)
    i registered on that site...m kinda new to it i just wanna know wat all can u do on it???? and is ravenspire the only story u've uploaded???
    hahaha....i evn downloaded this trilogy as an ebook...i'll read it wen i get time.....=)
    thanks for the link.....u shud be a writer cum lawyer!!! ;D u wanna be a lawyer right????

  4. Yay! Post comments once you start reading it. :) I'd really like to know what you think...
    I saw you registered on the can upload your own short stories, poems etc. on it and you can read and comment on other people's stuff...and yes, Ravenspire is the only story I've put on it...its like a full novel and it took my a year to finish, so..
    I hope you like this book...personally I think its awesome...keep reading the footnotes they're the best part...
    And yes, I wanna be a lawyer...writer cum lawyer would be osm though.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Interesting review. I have heard positive things abt the Trilogy too. After reading this review, all the more curious. Added to my to-read list :)

  7. Thanks so much for reading my review. I hope you read (and enjoy) the book. :)

  8. Hey ... nice review.

    I really like Nat. sounded real for me - u know, not the saintly type normal books have.

    And Barti absolutely rocks

  9. Hi,

    Thanks a dozen. I loved Nathaniel - you're right, he was much better than the usual saintly type. And Barti, of course, was the master. :)

    Incidentally, have you read Stroud's Heroes of the Valley?

  10. Oh ... I'm checking it out just now.

    Thanks a lot.
    I was just itching for something to read.

  11. Haha, I hope you like it. Tell me what you thought of it when you finish.

  12. Very well written... and yah my personal favorite is also Bartaemeus... and i can not get myself to bring to hate Nat as much as I want to because I know that he cant help being that way!!!

  13. Hi,

    Thanks so much. Barti is just awesome, but Nate is also really well-written. I agree with you, he's hard to hate.


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