The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trilogy, book 1), by Jonathan Stroud

Stroud is apparently better known as a horror writer than as a children’s author, purchase but his YA trilogy about an alternate England and a boy magician has been quite popular. This book, site and its two sequels, form the Bartimaeus Trilogy, and I’ve got it on good authority (IMDb) that at least the first book is scheduled to be a movie by 2009.

In Stroud’s alternate England, there are magicians and non-magicians, but they live together in a sort of uneasy peace. Each knows about the other, though. Magicians call power using magical objects or by summoning demons of various kinds, from minor imps to do small duties all the way up to djinni and greater beings. The system works as such: magicians have no children, but they are given talented children to raise as apprentices. They are given a use-name as a child, but not until they pass their test at age twelve are they given their official adult names. Nathaniel is born into this world, which is approximately equal in time to ours; technology is a bit different, though. He is given to Mr. Underwood to raise and train. Underwood is a profoundly mediocre magician, but Nathaniel is very creative and talented. Before he passes the twelve-year-old test, he is insulted by one of Underwood’s compatriots in the government, and not being of a forgiving sort, he summons a djinn named Bartimaeus to steal something in the other magician’s possession. Stealing that object leads us into a great conspiracy, involving powerful magical objects, ambitious magicians, attempts on various lives, houses blowing up, and a good deal of intrigue. Continue reading The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trilogy, book 1), by Jonathan Stroud