The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud is a fantasy. It is the first book in a trilogy about a London that is run by wizards. The book follows a boy named Nathaniel who is an eleven-year-old wizard. The wizards in this book have no power themselves, but summon demons to do the work for them. What is interesting is the relationships between the wizards and the demons. The demons are basically slaves and are forced to do whatever the wizards demand of them.
Nathaniel is something of an oddity to the wizards in the book. Young wizards are made by taking them from their parents and placing as apprentices to older magicians. They are treated with a distance as they are not even called by their names. Nathaniel does not let his circumstances stop him from learning and teaching himself to be a powerful wizard.
I personally responded well to how the book was written. Stroud uses footnotes that explain the story and are full of sarcasm. I had not seen this in a work of fiction and it turned out to be extremely entertaining. The chapters alternate between Nathaniel’s point-of-view and Bartimaeus who is the demon Nathaniel is controlling.
Anyone going into the series thinking it will be another Harry Potter will not find many similarities at all. The books are certainly entertaining and are being made into movies in England. Click here for Jonathan Stroud’s website for information on his other books, and what he is up to.