I'm not blind drunk, I'm just blind.
For those who didn't get the title, Simon Jones is probably best known by some as the voice of Arthur Dent in the BBC's TV and radio adaptations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But he does an excellent job of narrating audiobooks from what I've heard, particularly here.
The Amulet of Samarkand opens with the spirit Bartimaeus being summoned by the apprentice magician Nathaniel and ordered to steal a powerful artifact from a ruthless magician. Unfortunately for Nathaniel, he quickly finds himself in way over his head, involved in matters of treachery and intrigue. And to make matters even more complicated the wisecracking, sarcastic Bartimaeus has his own agenda.
I particularly like how the book switches from Nathaniel's point of view over to that of Bartimaeus, and particularly how when speaking from Bartimaeus' point of view it switches to first person narration. I particularly like Simon Jones' narration during these points, as he easily and perfectly captures Bartimaeus' witty, often scathing sense of humor. I haven't finished the book yet but I can't put it down for long. And when I've enough credits saved up I intend to purchase the rest of the trilogy.
I actually started this series, although I didn't know it was such at the time, back in 1993 whenI was in Junior High, with the fourth volume. It wasn't until about ten years later that I got the proper skinny on it and read the series in proper order. Over Sea, Under Stone opens with the Drew family, Dick, Ellen and their three young children, arriving in Cornwall for a summer vacation, which they'll be spending with their Great Uncle Merry, a mysterious professor who often appears unexpectedly on the Drews' doorstep to vanish just as quickly in the night. While exploring the massive house that Uncle Merry, Meriman Lyon to the wider world, the three Drew children, Simon, Jane and Barney, discover an ancient manuscript which they believe to be a map showing the location of what they believe to be an ancient treasure. Though a game to the three Drews, the importance of the manuscript begins to surface, first when a mysterious man and a woman claiming to be his sister appear and ask the Drews about secret passages and maps, then even more so later when the house is burglarized while the Drews sleep. Realizing what the thieves must have been after, the childen show the manuscript, which they managed to keep safe, to Uncle Merry, who reveals that the treasure is in fact an ancient grail from the time of King Arthur. Thus begins a dangerous race as the Drews attempt to decipher the clues of the map and reach the grail before their myysterious enemies do. But it quickly becomes apparent that their foes, though relatively few in number, are extremely resourceful, and the outcome of the race is continually in doubt.
As usual with audiobooks, the narrator can sometimes ruin the experience even if the story itself is good. Fortunately that wasn't the case here. British actor Alex Jennings not only has a good voice for storytelling but also a talent for accents and dialects that lend personality to the characters he portrays, from the Cornish accents of the village locals to Uncle Merry's deep, commanding tones. This is definitely a listen I wuld recommend to others. It's not an entirely traditional fantasy with swords, dragons and wizards but it's a gripping tale all the same.
Two years have passed since the events of Amulet of Samarkand. Nathaniel, now called John Mandrake to his colleagues, is a member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the same department formerly headed by his late former master, the cowardly Arthur Underwood. Now apprenticed to a new master, Jessica Whitwell, Nathaniel is currently involved in a mostly fruitless hunt for a group of rogue commoners known as the Resistance, who wage small attacks on Magicians' dwellings and businesses to steal magical objects which they hope to use to eventually overthrow the cruel government. That operation is sidelined by a series of attacks on London by an unknown and seemingly invulnerable creature. Finding himself in peril of his life, Nathaniel summons the Djinni Bartimaeus, who discovers that the creature responsible for the destruction of many London businesses is a Golem,, sending Nathaniel to the ancient city of Praague, where such magic originated.
As with Amulet, narrator Simon Jones does an excellent job of narrating, bringing life to old and new characters alike, from Kitty Jones to the Afrit Honorius. If you haven't read this series yet, you definitely should. It may take a bit of getting used to since the magic isn't as pure as in, say, Harry Potter, but it's definitely innovative and interesting.
What the author did with time travel was very creative. I'll never look at time travel the same way again. It's not confusing, just very very well done. And how he was able to take a book written in the first person and give you views that weren't from the main character's perspective was very crafty.
The author laid very nice ground work in book one, but this book is where the series really shines. A great story with great characters.
Two thumbs up and five stars all around.