Let us see if this blogger (yours truly) knows how to do footnotes. Nope. She doesn’t. It’s a sad thing isn’t it? The best I can do for you without knowing how to add footnotes is brackets. So let me give you the list of things on the back cover of my hard cover copy of this marvelously thick book (462 pages):A modern-day London run by magicians (Or so they think. . . in reality, we demons call the shots.) A stolen amulet (I didn’t do it. . . well, all right. I did, but it wasn’t my fault. I was forced into it. Who by? Ah, that’s the embarrassing part. . . .) A tale of intrigue, murder, and revenge (And me, Bartimaeus. The star of the show) The first in the Bartimaeus trilogy (My exploits are simply too numerous and splendid to be contained in one solitary volume.)
And we already love Bartimaeus just through those little notes on the back. My favorite chapters were the ones with Bartimaeus (and here I quote: “How humans can stand it without going completely mad, I’ll never know”. Here there was a footnote, which said “Then again. . . maybe that explains a lot.” What he was speaking about was the inability of human’s to change shape, we are stuck in one form at all times). If I were to tell you all my favorite parts with Bartimaeus (example: “Watch where you leave your victims! I stubbed my toe on that.”), I would tell y ou almost everything from the book, and that wouldn’t be good, because I’d be ruining a wonderful author’s book for anyone reading this post.
Because as you probably know, my biased opinions are going into this, you might not like the book at all (though why you wouldn’t like it I would not know why… maybe because at one point he said that a slight variation in cognitive ability was the only difference between woman, man, mole or maggot?). But I am not giving you the best stuff yet. This is supposed to be a review, not a circus made of text. The main characters are Bartimaeus (of course) and a boy called Nathaniel (a.k.a. John Mandrake. I prefer Nathaniel, don’t you?). Before we continue, the birth name of a magician is something that can give another magician (or an entity of “the Other Place”, for example, a djinni like Bartimaeus) power over the person.
Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel (no surprise there, they’re the main characters after all) and is given the command to go steal the Amulet of Samarkand from a magician called Simon Lovelace (who gave Nathaniel a beating, which is described in a flashback chapter (you might say) a little after the beginning of the book. Maybe in the third Nathaniel chapter…?) Did I mention when Bartimaeus arrived he added lots of special affects? And then as soon as all of the “creepy” descriptions are done, he goes “Hey, it was his first time. I wanted to scare him.” And then he adds “and I did too”. What is not to love about this djinni?
I wouldn’t mind meeting him, the only problem would be that he might pounce on me. Well never mind, I’ve got to get on with this review. So Bartimaeus goes and breaks into Lovelace’s, meets two old acquaintances (who, acting on their master’s orders try to kill him. Hmm… I wonder why?) So for several hours he evades spheres (imps that are mostly ears and nose), is attacked by some kids (ouch, his pride suffered on that one), and then had to pretend to be a gargoyle. When Nathaniel finally called him, he smelled pretty bad. Having had to hide in sewage, then a garbage can.
As the story progresses, we find that Nathaniel wants to expose Lovelace as a murderer, or to be more specific, someone who payed someone else to murder someone to get the Amulet of Samarkand. This kind of backfires after awhile. Bartimaeus, trying to get information on Lovelace for Nathaniel, had to practically destroy Sholto Pinn’s shop to escape, and even then, he was caught (horror!). After escaping from the Tower of London (strangely, with the help of two djinni that Lovelace had under his command, the same two who had tried to kill our hero. If the hero isn’t defined yet, it’s Bartimaeus) he headed straight back to Nathaniel (or almost straight back, he had to get rid of Faquarl first). Unfortunately, he led Lovelace to the Underwood household accidentally.
From then on, it’s all touch and go! Nathaniel’s master is dead, and so is his master’s wife, Mrs. Underwood, one of the only people to ever care for him (Mr. Underwood certainly didn’t). What does he want now? He doesn’t take Bartimaeus’s advice to become an apprentice to a sewer rat, or to become a cabin boy. No, being a magician, that wouldn’t do any good for his pride or his self-importance. Nope. He’s got to go and get revenge. Possibly the most idiotic choice of his life, in Bartimaeus’ opinion. Of course, if I said “I’ll tell you a secret, they both survive”, that would sound utterly ridiculous. Why? Because it’s unnecessary to tell you that they survived, there’s a sequel after all isn’t there? Of course, you’ll have to read it yourself to find out how they beat Lovelace, and what happens exactly.
I hope you’ll enjoy it, I did. I think I had better read those Bartimaeus books I have more often, even if there are only three of them, they are interesting and funny.
I end this post with one more quote: “They’ve made it difficult for us.”
“Yes, defenses usually do that.”
At least, the quote was something like that. Nathaniel said the first part, Bartimaeus said the second. 😛