The Amulet of Samarkand
By Jonathan Stroud
Hyperion Books for Children, 2003. 462 pgs. approx. 13 hours. Teen fiction
In present-day London, Nathaniel, a twelve-year-old magician in training, is humiliated by the powerful wizard Simon Lovelace. In order to get revenge, Nathaniel summons the dijnni Bartimaeus, instructing him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace. This decision pulls Nathaniel into a plot deeper and darker than he ever anticipated.
This book is a great pick for those looking for interesting adventure and fantasy. It's also an excellent choice for an audiobook; Simon Jones is a terrific narrator. Bartimaeus is a witty, sarcastic dinnji, and I quite enjoyed listening him banter and bicker with Nathaniel, who is an interesting mixture of a child who has innate goodness and a magician who, like those around him, is ambitious to the point of disregarding others.
The Golem's Eye
By Jonathan Stroud
Hyperion Books for Children, 2004. 562 pgs. or appox. 17 hrs. Teen fiction
Nathaniel, now fourteen, is gaining power within the British government, comprised of the best and brightest of the wizards of the day. When a terrifying force is set loose in London, destroying everything in its path, Nathaniel is assigned to find out what it is and destroy it. Aided by the unwilling Bartimaeus, Nathaniel sets out to save his country--and preserve his own standing in the government, while at the same time, fighting the Resistance, a group of commoners that oppose the magical government.
This second installment in the series didn't pull me in quite as much as the first book, perhaps because Nathaniel has taken a turn for the worse; he's more arrogant, more self-centered, and decidedly less likable. Bartimaeus, however, is still his lovely snarky self and the book is still entertaining.
By Jonathan Stroud
Hyperion Books for Children, 2006. 501 pgs. or appox 15.5 hrs. Teen fiction
As the book opens, Bartimaeus is on the verge of death; Nathaniel has kept him in bondage for so long that his essence is nearly destroyed. Nathaniel, now a high-ranking government official, is trying to help Britain win the war against the rebellious Americans, while at the same time, trying to prevent a rebellion within the ranks of the government. Meanwhile Kitty Jones, a former member of the Resistance, who once saved Nathaniel's life, wants to know more about Bartimaeus and his relationship with his former master, Ptolemy. While most magical creatures hate their masters and their forced servitude, Bartimaeus seems to have bonded with Ptolemy and Kitty wonders if something can be done to end the conflict between commoners, magicians, and the magical creatures. Soon, all three are joined together in a fight against foes they never imagined.
For me, this was the most exciting of the three books, a thrilling final book. I thought the series was pretty fun and a good adventure, one I would recommend to many teen readers, but this third book was the one that clinched it for me. I was hooked and couldn't wait to see how things turned out. I loved the chance to see the best sides of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, was intrigued by the back story of Bartimaeus and Ptolemy, and couldn't help but cheer for Kitty's tenacity and spirit. Anyone who has read the book won't be surprised to know that the ending was a bit difficult to swallow; although fitting, it was definitely hard to keep reading and I kept hoping for a twist that didn't come.
AH! I can't believe Nathaniel dies! He sacrifices himself in order to save his city, and he has come to see the error of his ways, how arrogant the magicians are and how wrong they've behaved toward the commoners, and even, to some extent, the magical creatures. Now, I love a good redemption book, but I'd like it even better if the main character didn't DIE, particularly since I was hoping he and Kitty would end up together. So...I highly enjoyed the series, but I'm quite upset about the ending! Even though it was fitting, well-written, and in some ways as sweet as it was sad, I don't like sad endings!!!