My uncle works in a children’s bookshop in London, and has a fantastic flat full of books of all types. He often recommends titles to me, and as he and I have similar tastes I try to read as many as possible. He mentioned The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud, a few weeks back, and I picked it up from Books Etc. a few days later. It was in the ‘young adults’ section, an area which seems entirely arbitrary to me – most books could easily be found in the ‘adult’ section of the shop in terms of their content. Anyway, I thought The Amulet of Samarkand was great. In a world ruled by magicians, a young apprentice summons Bartimaeus, the world’s most sarcastic djinni (pronounced genie), and commands him to perform various tasks, more detail of which would spoil the plot. Despite the two main characters not being particularly likable initially, I really enjoyed the story and found the book very difficult to put down. The plot continually turned in unexpected directions, and Bartimaeus’ chapters were perpetually smile-inducing due to the presence of ‘explanatory’ footnotes from the djinni himself. I found the entire book delightful, and agree with my uncle’s comment of ‘something interesting in every paragraph’.
So. Yes. The Amulet of Samarkand = Recommended by me. It’s the first in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, and the sequel, Golem’s Eye, is now available in hardback. I couldn’t resist the temptation, so headed into Solihull yesterday to pick it up. I eventually found it in the 9-12 section of Waterstones (sorry Tony), but by then it was too late for me. The 3 for 2 table (also known as The Epitome of All Evil) contained the newly-released paperback of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which I’ve been wanting for ages, as well as Noughts and Crosses, which Jo recommended a while back. Naturally, Golem’s Eye wasn’t in the 3 for 2 offer. So, instead of being a good little homeowner and frugally fighting temptation, I found a third novel and bought all four. Sigh. I just can’t help myself when it comes to books!