Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan stroud’

The Amulet of Samarkand

When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician’s apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation or a few simple illusions. But Nathaniel is a precocious talent and has something rather more dangerous in mind: revenge. Against his will, Bartimaeus is packed off to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a master magician of unrivalled ruthlessness and ambition. Before long, both djinni and apprentice are caught up in a terrifying flood of magical intrigue, murder and rebellion.

Set in a modern-day London controlled by magicians, this hilarious, electrifying thriller will enthral readers of all ages.

The Golem’s Eye

Two years have passed since the events of The Amulet of Samarkand and the young magician Nathaniel is rising fast through the government ranks. But his career is suddenly threatened by a series of terrifying crises. A dangerous golem makes random attacks on London and other raids, even more threatening, are perpetrated by the Resistance. Nathaniel and Bartimaeus travel to Prague, enemy city of ancient magic, but while they are there uproar breaks out at home and Nathaniel returns to find his reputation in tatters. Can he rescue it from his Machiavellian adversaries in the government bent on his destruction?

Ptolemy’s Gate
A thrilling sequel in which the relationship between the young magician and the djinni remains as teasing and complex as ever.

Three years on from the events in The Golem’s Eye, the magicians’ rule in London is teetering on a knife-edge, with strikes, riots and general unrest. The Prime Minister is largely controlled by two advisers, one of whom is 17-year-old Nathaniel. Meanwhile, living under a false identity, Kitty has been researching djinn; she has come to believe that the only way to destroy the magicians is with an alliance between djinn and ordinary people.

Kitty seeks out Bartimaeus and embarks on a terrifying journey into the djinn’s chaotic domain – the Other Place – which no human being has ever survived. But even as she does so, Makepeace engineers a dramatic coup d’etat.

The outcome is a shattering of the magicians’ control and all magical laws are turned upside down. Can Bartimaeus, Nathaniel and Kitty settle old scores to prevent the earth’s destruction?

The Bartimaeus Trilogy:

  1. The Amulet of Samarkand
  2. The Golem’s Eye
  3. Ptolemy’s Gate

Jonathan Stroud

Doubleday

Purchased at a second-hand book fair

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

If you’ve wondered why the wizards in Harry Potter aren’t ruling the world…. Well, in the Bartimaeus trilogy, they are. Magic is the province of an elite who command the powers of djinni and other spirits from the “Other Place” and they rule with a staff of iron. Literally, to some extent, since one of the major artefacts in the stories is the Staff of Gladstone.

The Whispering Skull

There’s a lot to be said for reading children’s literature, especially when it’s this good! I enjoyed The Screaming Staircase immensely, and I found The Whispering Skull to be if anything, even better than its predecessor. There’s less need to explain what’s going on in the second novel of a series and so there’s more space for story. And it’s an engrossing and exciting story, a real page-turner.

It begins when something is stolen from a coffin – a very dangerous artefact; that has a nasty habit of killing anyone who looks into it. Lockwood and his friends are assigned the job of finding this missing object, which means finding who stole it, and what they’ve done with it. This brings them into contact with some interesting characters at both ends of the social spectrum of Stroud’s alternative London, not all them alive in any sense of the word…

Our ensemble of lead characters grow quite a lot in this novel, especially the nerdy George. In some ways this novel belongs to George more that it does to either Lockwood or Lucy (or the eponymous Skull, for that matter). He gets a lot of good lines. Mind you, the book is full of great lines; Stroud’s humour and skill with words is a wonderful thing. Some may question the validity of a world where circumstances place young people at the forefront of a war against menacing undead spirits, but there’s a long tradition of those meddling kids defeating adult treachery throughout children’s literature. Children love to read about other kids in heroic roles… it’s an empowerment thing, and that can’t be at all bad.

Doubleday

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

screaming staircaseRapier-wielding teenage ghostbusters! Isn’t that enough? I suppose you’re going to want a proper review.

Firstly, Stroud comes up with an elegant excuse for teenagers being the protagonists of a mystery thriller, and getting themselves into life-threatening situations. They’re young enough to see, hear and otherwise sense the presence of ‘Visitors’ otherwise known as ghosts, and old enough to be able do something about it. Such as find the source, the object or location through which the ghost enters the world and neutralise it.

Secondly, he can write exciting, funny, scary and evocative prose; the sort that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. It’s a tad formal, almost Victorian in tone, which had me confused as to when the novel was meant to be set. I was also left wondering just how old the personnel of Lockwood & Co. actually are, which may be a deliberate ploy on the part of the author, in order to broaden his potential audience.

Certainly I’d be happy to give this book to any child from about twelve years of age who was looking for a good scary ghost story, but have caution with younger ones or sensitive children, you might well give them nightmares. Oh, and it’s a fun read for adults, too.

Random House

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui