Audiobook Review: “The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1”
by Jonathan Stroud
read by Simon Jones
Published by Listening Library
13 hours and 30 minutes
Once again I find myself seeking an audiobook adventure in the world of young adult fiction. It seems that YA fiction is filled with many stories of the supernatural, especially wizards. This is one of those books, or rather series.
Every coming of age story deals with the confusing times of life when it seems the world just won’t listen when because you are too young and yet you know everything. This time around eleven year-old Nathanial, a magician’s apprentice, knows there is going to be an attack on London’s magical community, but proving that without giving away that he has been studying more than his mentor has allowed is a tricky situation.
This story takes place in an alternate timeline in which Great Britain’s Parliament is run by wizards or Magicians. Nathaniel is adopted through an agency by Arthur Underwood. The parents are paid large sums of money while the children adopted are made to forget their birth names. Any being from the nether can use a magician’s real name to take control of the magician.
Underwood is, at best, a mediocre magician, and does not realize the full potential of his young apprentice. Nathaniel teaches himself the advance magicks since Underwood will not. The main reason Underwood does not teach the advance magicks is because he thinks they are too far advanced for the young apprentice. There is also a bit of a hint through the book that Underwood may not have that strong of a grasp of the magicks to teach them anyway.
Nathaniel’s troubles all begin when an arrogant, high on the social ladder, magician, Simon Lovelace embarasses him publicly. Nathaniel retaliates by releasing some mites but when Lovelace beats the mites without breaking a sweat Nathaniel is punished by Underwood. That’s when Nathaniel takes it upon himself and go beyond his magical training and summon a demon, or rather a Djinn, demon is pretty much like a racial slur to the Djinn. The Djinn he summons is the sarcastic Bartimaeus. Nathaniel tasks Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace because it seems to be his most prized possession.
Soon the secret of the Amulet is revealed and the mystery of why Lovelace has it is revealed when Bartimaeus and Nathaniel learn how it was acquired. The fun and adventures begin as the two race across London to stop the impending doom that is destined to fall on the magic community.
Not sure yet about the rest of the books in the series, but this coming of age story definitely weaves in the fun with some great sarcasm from Bartimaeus and some really cool magic theories. I will definitely be looking for the next three books. (Yes, I know it says trilogy but it seems the author has added a fourth book into the mix.)
Simon Jones does an outstanding job bringing out the voice of Bartimaeus making him a true-to-life character. Jones does an excellent job throughout the book but he made me really become a fan of Bartimaeus.