Monday, February 14, 2011

The Amulet of Samarkand

I’ve reviewed board games often enough, but have never reviewed a book before, so this is my first try. The book is Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. I think I’ll try it in a format that I’ve used before in reviewing games, which is the “5 Things I like about…(You might too!)” format™. That’s right, I just trademarked my format.

Quick Overview: The book is essentially about two characters. One is a young boy named Nathaniel who learns he is to be trained as a wizard and the other is a djinn named Bartimaues who is a servant to Nathaniel. They are located in London during modern times, though unspecified times, where wizards are the ones that rule the government by employing various imps, djinni, afrits, and other spiritual beings to do their tasks.  

1. Humor is a good thing. At least I think so. There are very few books I’ve ever laughed out loud on. Off the top of my head, I’d say that some of the Percy Jackson books made me laugh out loud, but that is about it. In the Amulet of Samarkand, henceforth referred to as AoS, I did though. What made it funny is the footnotes. For example when Bartimaues gets called as bad as a human, there is a footnote down below that simply says, “Ouch”.  I found that very funny! Maybe you all won’t, but I like that the book doesn’t take itself too seriously.

2. The writing style was different than I’ve been used to seeing. As I’ve said, the story follows to main characters and makes it very easy to distinguish between the two by how the writing is done. All of Nathaniel’s side of the story is written in third person about him, while Bartimaues’ side of the story is in first person by Bartimaues. This allows for quick recognition of how is talking and makes for a different perspective of essentially the same events.

3. I love the footnotes in the book. They explain all kinds of things, can be humorous,  and really make the book for me. What is the best part about them is the way they allow the reader to read the story that is currently happening without needing a big long background story. However, if you want that background story (I’m all about background stories) you can get them. So the footnotes, just like in non-fiction books, fill in the cracks of the story.

4. I like the story. I have always liked these type of stories. You know what story I’m talking about the young apprentice finding out he is a great warrior/wizard/dragon rider/jedi and discovering all the new world that opens up to him. Seeing the good and the bad in the world and deciding where to land and how to fight for what he believes in. So if you’ve read/watched and enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, the Inheritance Cycle (where is book 4 at Paolani?!), Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ender’s Game, even Lord of the Rings in a way with Frodo, then you probably would enjoy AoS.

5. It is book one in a series! I love reading series of books. I’m not talking about dozens of books in the same series (I’m lookin’ at you Sharpe’s Series by Bernard Cornwell), but three or four or five books is great. The AoS is just the first book in a series about this young wizard named Nathaniel and the quick-witted djinn called Bartimaues. So if you are looking for a good series to get started in, from my experience with the first book, I suggest you get involved in this one. The overall series is called The Bartimaues Trilogy.


  1. I enjoyed the 1st & 2nd book of the trilogy. I have not yet read the third book. I also enjoyed the foot-notes. The instruction manual of Dungeon Lords reminded me of the writing style. Nice Review.

  2. Have you ever tried the book/series 'Magician' by Raymond Feist? Excellent. Highly recommended. You might find it as Magician:Apprentice, I can't keep track of the different versions. Very much about #4, but takes awhile.