Angela's Reviews > The Amulet of Samarkand

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
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Mar 06, 08

bookshelves: fantasy, childrens-lit
Recommended to Angela by: Kelly Hoffman
Read in March, 2008

This is a difficult book to rate: It was very well-written, with an intriguing plot and engaging wit. That being said, I must admit that it was more frustrating than enjoyable for me.

The main problem was that I disliked both of the main characters: one is a wily demon (Bartimaeus), and the other is a 12-year-old kid who is way too smart for his own good (Nathaniel). I think you'd get a similar result if you paired C.S. Lewis's Screwtape with Rowling's Draco Malfoy. Don't get me wrong - I love "The Screwtape Letters," but with nothing enlightening to learn from the demon in question, and having to read a much longer book full of it, the negativism got old. As for Nathaniel... I know he had a miserable childhood and all, but he was whiny at the best of times; at the worst, he was downright treacherous. He used words like "conscience," "justice," and "honor," but it always felt like he was acting out of guilt, ambition, and revenge. I hoped he would change over the course of the book, but I was disappointed.

I also found Stroud's entire magical "universe" quite depressing - portraying all magicians as parasitic slave drivers who have very little magic of their own, and instead must prey on the powers of demonic magical beings from "the Other Place."
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Judith I agree with your review. The fact that I found the two main characters impossible to like made it so hard to read, since I didn't really care about them, either way.

I LIKE arrogant characters, but it seems that Nathaniel's and Bartimaeus' arrogance were sorely misplaced. They didn't live up to their egos, if I may place it like that.


Shannon I know a lot of people liked this book, but I could not enjoy it. I agree with you when you said, “He used words like "conscience," "justice," and "honor," but it always felt like he was acting out of guilt, ambition, and revenge.” I also do not care for the world the author created. It was not a fun place to inhabit while I read.


message 3: by Wiguna (new)

Wiguna Alodia i have one question for you, do you like harry potter too ? -___-


Angela @Wiguna - Yes, I do like Harry Potter, too :)


message 5: by Wiguna (new)

Wiguna Alodia barti and harrypotter, both of them. they used magical universe too. and yes nathaniel. i know that child was totally unstable. but jonathan has a reasonable reason to make his characters like that.
can you explain, why are you so disliked bartimaues with ur specific answer xixixixixi :) :p
but overall, i love ur statement


Kerri Not since Holden Caulfield have I disliked a character as much as I disliked Nathaniel. I agree completely with your review.


Supreme Coffee So you disliked the book due the MAIN CHARACTERS! I mean, in that case, I could just say I hate Harry Potter because I feel he was too overpowering. (Not that I do)


Supreme Coffee So you disliked the book due the MAIN CHARACTERS! I mean, in that case, I could just say I hate Harry Potter because I feel he was too overpowering. (Not that I do)


J.L. Burger Just finished it, I have to agree that the Nathaniel character makes it a tough book to really love. I'm hoping that developments in later books will make Nathaniel more heroic as he grows up. But I don't know if I'll get through the rest of the books... Meanwhile, my daughters and I absolutely adored the first book of Stroud's Lockwood & Co series. If you like Stroud's writing but not his world and not Nathaniel, check that one out...


Jessicado22 I felt bad giving this book such a low rating as I thought the writing was well done. However, I couldn't even finish because I just didn't care about the main characters. Not only did I not care - I plain didn't like them. And not even in a good love-to-hate them kinda way...just a plain ole don't like them at all.


message 11: by Kerri (new) - rated it 1 star

Kerri Here is my review of this book:

Well, I will start by saying that I really wanted to like this book. My husband and son both liked it a lot. I just couldn't quite get there, though. Not since Holden Caulfield have I disliked a character as much as I disliked Nathaniel. There was no one to root for, in fact, I found myself wishing that everyone could be gone at the end. Maybe it would have been better if I read it instead of listening to it on CD and I might do that some time in the future.


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