Angela's Reviews > The Amulet of Samarkand

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
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Feb 22, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, childrens-lit
Recommended to Angela by: Kelly Hoffman

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 1-13 of 13) (13 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.


Morgane The whole point is that Nathaniel was a good kid who was perverted (and abused!) by the system and his master. And that's what he turns into. Pretty powerful and courageous to write a story about him. And if you consider our world: if people had magic, they would use it for power and to take over! It's a great twist on the image of the magician in Fantasy: the bad guys are magicians and the hero is a demon! Also this is some of the best character development and arcs I've read. I love both Nat and Bart, because they have things to learn, and are not happy silly people. It's way more mature that way and makes the books appealing to readers of all ages while not taking kids for idiots.


message 13: by Rhia (new)

Rhia I didn't exactly like the book either but i thought the characters were fine albeit need a bit more character development. While neither of the characters are exactly likeable people it was interesting to see characters built from some questionable goals and ambitions instead of the usual unassuming hero. In fact i liked nathaniel for the reason you didn't. he used 'conscience' 'justice' and 'honour' when he was really fuelled by ambition revenge and guilt, something bartimaeus pointed out. I liked the characters because they constantly toed the line between good and evil. It was interesting reading your review, thank you.


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