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Library Journal Review
Often described as the anti-Harry Potter, The Amulet of Samarkand also stars a boy wizard in a magical modern-day London. Nathaniel is a snot-nosed apprentice seeking revenge on the magician who humiliated him. To that end, he summons a 5000-year-old djinni, Bartimaeus, and forces him to steal a powerful amulet. Listen Up: Jones is a past winner of Audiofile magazine's Golden Voice Award and played Bridey in the famed PBS miniseries Brideshead Revisited. The story alternates between third- and first-person narration, with delightful asides from the not-so-easily-controlled Bartimaeus. In the text, these asides take the form of footnotes, which can interrupt the flow on the page. Jones's skillful reading smoothes out the bumps and makes this first book in a complex trilogy even more fun to listen to than it is to read.-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
A seemingly omniscient narrator begins this darkly tantalizing tale set in modern-day London, ushering readers into a room where the temperature plunges, ice forms on the curtains and ceiling, and the scent of brimstone fills the air. Suddenly, the voice reveals itself as the djinn Bartimaeus, appearing in front of Nathaniel, the 10-year-old magician who has summoned him ("Hey, it was his first time. I wanted to scare him," Bartimaeus explains). The djinn thinks of himself as rather omniscient, having been present for some major historical moments (as he explains in various footnotes, he gave an anklet to Nefertiti and offered tips to legendary architects-"Not that my advice was always taken: check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa"). Debut novelist Stroud plunges readers into a quickly thickening plot: Nathaniel commands Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a task that the djinn completes with some ease. Other factors quickly become more interesting: the motive for the boy's charge, how Simon came by the Amulet and the fallout from the theft. What these reveal about the characters of Simon and Nathaniel makes for engrossing reading. Stroud also introduces the fascinating workings of the "seven planes" (magicians can see three of them only with special spectacles), the pecking order of magical beings, and the requirements of various spells and enchantments-plus the intrigue behind a group of commoners mounting a Resistance (this loose end, presumably, will be explored in the remainder of the planned Bartimaeus trilogy). The author plants enough seeds that readers will eagerly anticipate the next two volumes. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4 Up-This graphic-novel adaptation of the first volume in the popular trilogy concerns Nathaniel, a young apprentice in an alternate-world England run by wizards. When he summons the djinni Bartimaeus to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself involved in a traitorous plot that reaches the highest levels of power. Inevitably, some of the original story is lost or minimized, yet the essence is retained, something that is sure to please fans of the prose novel. As well, the full-color artwork does an adequate job of depicting the characters and settings of the novel. Unfortunately, both the images and lettering are quite small, cramping a story that begs for a bigger, splashier treatment.-Douglas P. Davey, Halton Hills Public Library, Ontario, Canada (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Disney/Hyperion follows its adaptation of Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief (2010) with this sumptuous graphic novelization of the first book in another hit fantasy series, Stroud's multilayered Bartimaeus trilogy. The fairly text-heavy treatment is a welcome way to balance Stroud's ever-clever writing with a visual treatment of the plot, in which a boy apprentice summons an impish djinni named Bartimaeus to help him exact revenge upon a particularly nasty magician. Stroud's inspired twist was to tell the bulk of the story from the tremendously entertaining point of view of Bartimaeus, and here his narration works wonders counterpointing the drama and dialogue in the panels. The artwork is lively, atmospheric, and exciting, with a couple quibbles: the coloring is almost off-puttingly oversaturated, and a longer page count would have alleviated the problem of a few key action sequences getting crammed into tinier and more claustrophobic spaces. Still, the depth of Stroud's alternate London, some complex political machinations, and the large cast of human and demon characters are all well realized here. Fans and initiates alike will be enchanted.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Middle School) The magicians ruling the British empire in this anachronistic modern fantasy derive their powers from demons -- marids, afrits, djinn, imps -- who, though summoned to work the magicians' wills, are always looking for a loophole through which to destroy them. Bartimaeus, a smart-mouthed bruiser of a djinni, called by a stripling magician to steal the Amulet of Samarkand, finds just such a loophole when he learns his master's secret birthname. Nathaniel, however, manages to regain the upper hand with a time-delayed spell: Bartimaeus must protect the apprentice magician long enough to get the spell removed or spend eternity in a tobacco tin. Through guile, teamwork, and dumb luck the ambitious but green kid and the ""Spenser for Hire""-type djinni uncover and foil a coup attempt masterminded by Simon Lovelace, the powerful and ruthless magician who is after them for stealing the Amulet. The pace never slows in this wisecracking adventure; chapters in Bartimaeus's lively first person (with indulgent explanatory footnotes) alternate with third-person chapters on Nathaniel's adolescent insecurities and desires. Stroud has created a compelling fantasy story in a well-realized world, but it is the complementary characters of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel that will keep readers coming back for the rest of the projected trilogy. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
In a contemporary London full of magic, a thrilling adventure unfolds. Twelve-year-old Nathaniel is apprenticed to a politician (which means magician), but early emotional pain leads him toward hardness and anger. Arrogantly summoning a djinni to help him steal an amulet from slickly evil Simon Lovelace, he's swept into a swirl of events involving conspiracy at the highest government level. Nathaniel's perspective alternates with that of Bartimaeus, the cocky, sardonic djinni. No character is wholly likable or trustworthy, which contributes to the intrigue. Many chapters end in suspense, suddenly switching narrators at key moments to create a real page-turner. Readers will hope that Stroud follows up on certain questions--is it slavery to use a djinni? will shaky looming international politics affect the empire? who deserves our alliance? and who are the mysterious children ostensibly running an underground resistance?--in the next installment, sure to be eagerly awaited. (Fantasy. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.