Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Amulet of Samarkand

Like The House of Night books, this one came to me via my friend in the US. It now has the pleasure of being the 2nd letter taken as part of the 2012 Alphabet Author Challenge!
The first in a trilogy, this book introduces us to Nathaniel, a boy magician in training. Fret not! This book is nothing like the Harry Potter series, it is filled with a whole different sort of magician and magic!
Nathaniel is sold by his parents, aged five, to the government, who in turn hand him over to the Underwood's where he begins his apprenticeship as a magician. Mr. Underwood and Mrs. Underwood are two very different characters. Mr. Underwood has no affection or even apparent like for the boy, merely seeing him as somone to be trained, after which he can wash his hands off him. Mrs. Underwood on the otherhand, is rather fond of the boy and treats him as her own, something which probably keeps the boy from going mad and enables him to survive in his new life.
Humiliated by a fully fledged magician one day, Nathaniel vows revenge, and uses his apprenticeship to soak up as much knowledge as possible in order to pay the cad Lovelace back for his actions. As part of his plan he summons Bartimaeus and forces him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace, thus catapulting them into a series of adventures which will ultimately mean a fight for survival in the face of apparent failure.
I found Nathaniel to be a most disagreeable character. Haughty, proud and I suppose a typical self absorbed boy, he is difficult to like, despite his unfortunate background. Bartimaeus is the true hero of this story. He is funny, charming, sarcastic and clever; interwoving his side of the story with tales of his adventures among the magical world and his general distaste for man.
Despite his role of master over Bartimaeus, Nathaniel learns many lessons on his journey, including what trust is and the lacking of his own abilities; ultimately having to stand beside Bartimaeus rather than just commanding him in the fight they eventually face together for survival.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Why? This wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. It seemed super intelligent initially and I thought I was going to be stretched, but ultimately it was easy enough reading. Having said that, I did enjoy it. There were a couple of occasions where I was able to guess what was coming next but generally speaking there will still plenty of surprises throughout to keep me entertained. An enjoyable enough read but not the showstopper it could've been, I'm still undecided if I want to continue with the trilogy.

1 comment:

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