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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Nathaniel is a magician's apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hot-shot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of his elders, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who's boss. With revenge on his mind, he summons the powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him a…

The Amulet of Samarkand

by Jonathan Stroud

Overall Book Review:

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud and its main character, Bartimaeus, rock! There is just no other way to say it. This book introduces us to Nathaniel, an apprentice magician, and to Bartimaeus, a djinn. Armed with an infallible, lofty self-esteem, Bartimaeus keeps the narrative clipping with his observations, asides, and snarky comments which are delivered via footnotes. The footnotes are sheer brilliance of the highest degree and propel this book into an elite class of fiction. In addition to the format and the characters, the plot line is strong and never flags.

This book can be found shelved in either the children’s section or the young adult section, but it is one of the rare books that can capture an older audience. Bartimaeus is complex and entertaining enough to hook an adult. This is the first book of a series that started as a trilogy, but last year a fourth Bartimaeous book ( essentially a prequel) came out. Taken as a whole, The Bartimaeus Trilogy is near the top of my all-time best series list due to individual book strength, continuity and congruent vision among the books, and several of the best characters of recent children/YA fantasy.

Content Analysis:

Violence consists primarily of magical battling, including but not limited to: explosions, clouting, vaporizations, bombing, squishing, detonations, throwing.[1] The majority of violence is inflicted by the various imps, djinni, afrits, madrids, and foilots on each other as they carry out their masters’ biddings. The descriptions were brief[2] and non-gory. There is a reported murder. A fire results in two deaths. There are instances of characters being knocked unconscious by walls, rolling pins, etc. There is the death of a couple of human characters as a result of some of the magical dueling.

Only two mild profanities were noted.

This book is best for a strong reader who can navigate the footnotes employed by the author.

Sidenote: Don’t be alarmed, as I initially was, when the book begins with pentacles and the summoning of a demon.[3] Those items are quickly re-defined within the parameters of the magical, fictional world the author has created and are not sinister.[4]

[1] You get the idea. Think Mario Super-Smash Brothers type of fighting.

[2] Yet, quite amusing.

[3] Don’t call him a demon. Bartimaeus prefers djinn.

[4] Think genie in a lamp.

Mature Subject Matter:


Alcohol / Drug Use:


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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!