Bartimaeus Trilogy, anyone?

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Bartimaeus Trilogy, anyone?

Postby Jane » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:22 am

The Bartimaeus Trilogy, published 2003 - 2005.
By Jonathan Stroud
Young Adult reading level

Book 1 - The Amulet of Samarkand
Book 2 - The Golem's Eye
Book 3 - Ptolemy's Gate

I'm not very well-read compared to you guys, but I thought it was very well written and humorous. When I read my first Discworld novels, I thought that the setting was a lot like the run down Ankh-Morpork of CoM and Sourcery, where the city was stagnating and the wizards went around killing each other.

Background (from Ask's wiki):

The three novels are set in London in an alternate history to our own, though many countries, cities, events, and people are from actual history (such as Prague, Solomon, the Roman Empire, William Ewart Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli, the American Revolution, etc.). The books presume the idea that magic, magicians, and demons have been active throughout history, radically altering it. In particular these changes are reflected in the contrast between modern aspects (such as electricity and cars) and older ones (colonial-era weapons including muskets). The current time is never directly stated. The books incorporate references to various world mythologies and folklore, such as the Arabian Nights and Homer.

In the alternate history existing in the story, a type of oligarchy exists, where the people are mainly of two classes. The British monarchy is mentioned in passing, but is said to have been overthrown long before the events of the book.

The magicians are the governing class and hold all important posts in the government, from a Prime Minister down through assorted other ministers. They perform their magic indirectly by summoning, binding, and controlling various types of spirits, and by creating magical artifacts to do the same. The magicians are normal humans, who know how to summon demons and bend them to their will.

The commoners are those who are ignorant of magic and who make up the rest of society. They are kept in line by the governing class through fear and ignorance. It should be noted that some commoners are born with a resistance to magic, or a sensitivity to its presence. Unlike the Muggles of the Harry Potter universe, who do not believe in magic, the commoners are fully aware of the magical world and know of the magicians' dominance, and although most humans cannot see demons without special lenses some have the ability to see them naturally.

The books blend twentieth-century England with past epochs. London in the trilogy still has the Crystal Palace, where the climax occurs. Because it is stated that the trilogy occurs over a hundred years after the death of William Gladstone in 1898, it is clearly past 1936, when the real Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire. Airplanes and e-mail are mentioned, so it can be assumed to be set in more modern times. The Tower of London is still used as a prison. A chandelier in the first book is said to be made of "crystal taken from the ruins of Versailles", and it is implied that France, Germany, and Italy obey Britain. Britain's main rival is the Czech Empire (inheritor to the Habsburgs), which has been greatly weakened but still resents Britain.

In the third book, the war against the "American colonies" is a main cause of the commoners' dissent. Apparently, Britain still retains dominion in North America and is sending troops there to suppress discontent. It is also implied that only the New England colonies have large cities, the rest of North America being still under the control of Native Americans.


The series is a lot darker than Discworld, but it's still got funny bits scattered around. The main character, the djinn (or genie) Bartimaeus was who I was reminded of when I read about Rincewind, because both have that cowardliness overlaid with cynical sarcastic humor. It's also got those lovely footnotes, and I found out a few months ago that the author had read Pratchett and was inspired by him.

Excerpt from Amulet of Samarkand footnote:
Heddleham Hall was a great rectangular pile with plenty of tall arched windows, two storeys, ornate tracery that amounted to the Baroque, faux-battlements, high vaulted ceilings (heavily groined), sundry gargoyles (likewise) and all constructed from a creamy-brown stone that looked attractive in moderation but en masse made everything blur like a big block of melting fudge.


Give it a try if you think it sounds interesting, and also the spinoff book The Ring of Solomon comes out in a few months.
Discuss?
Last edited by Jane on Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:10 am

Never heard of it, if I can find the books I'll give it a try :wink:
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Postby mystmoon » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:12 am

I've read the first two and really enjoyed it, Bartimaeus is an excellent character!
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:26 am

The books are even translated to Dutch :shock: Already found some second hand examples of the first novel. So I'm definitely going to read it :wink:
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Postby Jane » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:31 am

It's suitable for all ages. :) My dad's colleague introduced me to the series at one of those staff Christmas parties. His son is really into fantasy books and games - he had those comic book heroine figurines with the metal bikinis and fur skirts. :shock:

Yup, it's an enjoyable series! ^__^
You should read book 3, Ptolemy's Gate, because then you'll see how Bart met Ptolemy!


Sjoerd3000 wrote:The books are even translated to Dutch :shock: Already found some second hand examples of the first novel. So I'm definitely going to read it :wink:


Are Dutch translations of English novels hard to find? D: I hope you like it! I always feel guilty when I suggest books for other people, only they dislike it after reading it. I feel like I've wasted their time.
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:05 pm

Depends really the Discworld novels are translated to Dutch but the English novels are much easier to find (and cheaper :wink: )
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Postby Jane » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:44 pm

That makes me kind of sad because I'm only uni-lingual. :(

Most of the books sold here are English language editions, imports from the UK. They've got the cost in pounds printed on the back for the suggested retail price, so bookshops can charge whatever they like. Which leads to super overpriced books that make me :x.

Is speaking Dutch fun?
I really don't know much about other countries, but I've always thought of Dutch as weird German with lots of double vowels. And what I've seen from the movie Eurotrip. d:
The rumour spread through the city like: ______.
A) Wildfire
B) Margarine
C) Venereal disease
D) A disco of pain
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:06 pm

Speaking Dutch is hard :wink:

German is weird Dutch! not the other way round!!! :P And don´t believe Hollywood :wink:
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Postby Jane » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:17 pm

Hey, someone else from another site kept on going about how cool Dutch was. He said it was really hard to learn. I think he was from Wallonia...is that Belgium? They're, like, Walloons!

According to some, German is the sound of the old clergymen throwing up. :o Who knows?

Stereotypes have to be based on truth...otherwise they wouldn't be funny.
The characters in Eurotrip went on a road trip looking for a penpal after graduating highschool, and they went to Amsterdam for crazy cookies. :P And then ended up in eastern Europe with only a dollar in their pockets, but the exchange rate got them a 5 star hotel room. :roll:
The rumour spread through the city like: ______.
A) Wildfire
B) Margarine
C) Venereal disease
D) A disco of pain
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:25 pm

Yup Wallonia is the French speaking part of Belgium :wink:

Do you use No Worries al the time Jane? :wink:
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Postby Jane » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:32 pm

What odd names.
It's like the time I discovered that people from Flanders are Flemish.
It sounds like "Phlegmish".

Do you mean that "Nullus anxietas" Last Continent stuff? I haven't read the book yet, but I saw that next year's Aussie Discworld con has that name.

I use "like", "totally", and "epic" a lot. I guess I'm more Valley girl than I'd realized. :P

There are some people here that use "mate" all the time.
They have a WWII war memorial, and the plaque says "Courage", "Bravery", and "Mateship". What's wrong with "Friendship"?
The rumour spread through the city like: ______.
A) Wildfire
B) Margarine
C) Venereal disease
D) A disco of pain
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Postby bikkit » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:40 pm

I've just finished these books and I like them (especially the first one. The next two don't have as much bartimaeus in them) Apparantly they're making a film :o
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I'm going to need a swat team, ready to mobilize, street maps covering the whole of florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammy dodgers and A FEZ.
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Postby ShadowNinjaCat » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:52 pm

Don't know it,but I'll look for it in the library :wink:
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Postby Jane » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:59 pm

I've just finished these books and I like them (especially the first one. The next two don't have as much bartimaeus in them) Apparantly they're making a film


Yeah, the next 2 books have 1/3 Bartimaeus, instead of 1/2.
But they're still pretty good, as you can see how the extra character effects Nat and Barti.

I think the film is just a rumor...but they are making a graphic novel. It's drawn by the same guy who did the Artemis Fowl one.
I don't think the film would be very good. I expect they'd cut out all the good parts, and the djinn spend their time as animals. Animated talking animals doesn't really work. Just look at the Golden Compass movie. :?
The rumour spread through the city like: ______.
A) Wildfire
B) Margarine
C) Venereal disease
D) A disco of pain
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Postby bikkit » Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:59 am

I agree. A graphic novel? Oooh
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