Nathaniel is eleven-years-old and a magician's apprentice, learning the traditional art of magic. All is well until he has a life-changing encounter with Simon Lovelace, a magician of unrivaled ruthlessness and ambition. When Lovelace brutally humiliates Nathaniel in public, Nathaniel decides to speed up his education, teaching himself spells far beyond his years. With revenge on his mind, he masters one of the toughest spells of all and summons Bartimaeus, a five-thousand-year-old djinni, to assist him. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal Lovelace's greatest treasure, the Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder and rebellion.
Set in a modern-day London spiced with magicians and mystery, The Amulet of Samarkand is an extraordinary, edge-of-your-seat thriller with many unexpected twists. Following Bartimaeus and Nathaniel in turn, the story introduces us to two wonderfully memorable characters destined to go through many adventures together and bound by a spell that is nearly impossible to break.
©2003 Jonathan Stroud; (P)2003 Random House, Inc., Listening Library, an Imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group
"One of the liveliest and most inventive fantasies of recent years." (Booklist)
"Spun into surprisingly colorful cloth." (The New York Times Book Review)
After listening to dozens of audiobooks, Simon Jones has quickly become my favorite reader. With an easy-to-understand British accent, excellent vocal range and pacing, perfect enunciation and terrific character voices, he does yet another outstanding job with this book.
The book itself is something kids and adults will enjoy. The main characters, Nathaniel (a young magician's apprentice), and Bartimaeus (a demon conjured by Nathaniel and forced unwillingly to do his his bidding) are well-developed and brought engagingly to life by the reader. Bartimaeus's wry comments about Nathaniel and life in general will have the listener chuckling quite often.
Nathaniel is somewhat of an anti-hero at first; he's deceitful, proud, arrogant, and above all impatient to prove and test his abilities, which of course causes all kinds of tragedy, mayhem and suspense.
The author's style of writing several chapters first from the demon's viewpoint and then the boy's keeps things quite interesting and engaging. We get to see what's motivating both of them from different vantage points, and it works well to keep the story flowing smoothly and provides a cliff-hanger or two when we switch from one to the other.
Simon Jones also reads book 2, which is every bit as good as this one. Both are well-worth repeated listenings. Here's hoping he reads book 3 as well.
I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...
A super nice romp of sarcasm, wit and deviltry. you gotta love it. Young adult-ish perhaps, but hey, i'm not collecting social security and i liked it. the whole trilogy is okay, this is definately the star. and hey, lighten up and enjoy a nice story. I liked it more than the last Harry Potter book - which frankly was getting a bit stale.
I rarely write reviews and this is the first I have been inspired to write while still listening, but I am simply entranced. The writing evokes immediate gorgeous visual imagery. The combination of genuinely funny, scary and magical themes is also hard to beat. I can't wait to get in the car and hear more. Yet I don't want to finish this book!
I am a pretty tough critic. And this was fabulous. It took me a bit of listening before I was into it, but then I fell in love. It is sassy, spunky, full of interesting characters that you really get to know. You can smell, taste and feel the story as it unwinds. Strong plot. Simon Jones is fabulous as a narrator. Great voice, great pace, easy to understand. My eight year old daughter loved it, my 12 year old son as well. Ditch your Harry Potter and give this a listen. I am about to start Book Two today.
I picked this book up by accident at a friend's house because their 12-year-old was reading it. I loved LOTR but have never been interested in Harry Potter. Couldn't put the book down and when I got home immediately ordered it on Audible. Simon Jones makes it twice as fun with his terrific characters. Buy it!!
I've just finished listening to this title for the second time; I loved The Amulet... the first time for its engrossing tale and wonderfully quirky characters, and the second for its sly wit and clever narration. Stroud has written a book that appeals to both my inner ten year old and the literary snob in me, and Simon Jones gives the book the narration it deserves. This is worth your listening time and your money.
If you have scanned the reviews you will notice some of the negatives compare this novel with Harry Potter. Plain and simple, this is a great book, but if you want Harry P. then for crying out loud read Harry P. There are some points in the book that will remind you of J.K. Rowlings character but in my opinion the character in this book (Nathaniel) is much more human. However the real star of this book is Bartimaeus a spirit conjured by Nathaniel,the character really could not have been written any better than he was. You will get a good understanding of this with in the first chapter. Adults and kids will both love this book as long as they realize that only Harry Potter can be Harry Potter otherwise it would be plagerism.....thank goodness for that.
I'm not a big fantasy fan. I listened to this book to see if my 10 year old son would like it. I was captivated by it. The author has a great sense of humor and good character development. The story was compelling. It was a lot like the X-files, it took a lot of previously used ideas and packaged them in an exciting story with high production values.I'm looking forward to volume 2, and so is my son.
We're all familiar magic and the summoning of supernatural beings, and we understand there are rules that must be followed or...bad things will happen. You've gotta use the correct words, and draw your circle and...protective magical symbols exactly right, and don't let summoned demons trick you into coming out of the circle...we get that.
What makes this series stand out (aside from brilliant writing, very interesting, clever, and funny story, etc.) is getting the point of view of the summoned beings..what are they thinking and feeling...what drives them...what determines if they do what they're ordered to do or...do something horrible to their summoner?
Amazon says this book is for "ages 10 and up" - I fully agree. I'm in my late 30s (that's the "and up" part), and I loved the whole series. Also, I plan on buying the print version for my kids this holiday season.
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