23 May, 2017

#BookReview :: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Sequence #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny." 

If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn't tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.

Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.

This is an amazing book! Absolutely and really…

The Amulet of Samarkhand deals with a young magician named Nathaniel, who summons Bartimaeus, a 5000-year-old Djinn, to do his bidding. What Nathaniel wants is for Bartimaeus to steal an amulet from Simon Lovelace, a powerful magician as a revenge for the humiliation that Simon had put Nathaniel through. But what follows is a little more than what Nathaniel and Bartimaeus had bargained for.

Frankly speaking, it took me a few chapters to get into the book. Bartimaeus’s voice is unique and as such it takes some time to get used to. But he is the one with a sense of humour and his wisecracks never failed to put a smile on my face. I suppose when one has lived for 5000 years, taking things with a pinch of salt comes easily. The adventures and life of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus are equally interesting and engaging and I liked the fact that the author gave us alternate POVs of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel which in turn gave us a closer look into both the characters. Nathaniel is really young and so there are times when his age and inexperience shows. But his determination really pulls him through. That is maybe why Nathaniel and Bartimaeus makes such a good duo – one so young and inexperienced coupled with an old soul with thousands of years of experience in the magical world. Secondary characters are given equally important treatment with their development and as such the book becomes even more engaging. Though there are times when the pace seemed to lag a bit, the book never bores you for a second.

I usually do not like to compare books or series and will not start doing so. But if you are a Harry Potter fan looking for something in fantasy genre, do give this series a try. They are, of course very different in many way, but they are both engaging with a fantastic story to tell. And this is a must read for anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre in general.

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