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This blog is managed by us two sisters, known to some as Ants and Epic. We're a pair of up-and-coming authors and avid readers. This blog is mainly full of honest, Christian book-reviews and an occasional update about our writing. We love hearing from you all so feel free to drop a comment anywhere to just say hi!
Also, got any book suggestions? Something you'd like to see reviewed? Leave the title in the comments and we'll try to get to it!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: The Amulet of Samarkand

 Summary: Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny." 
    If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn't tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.
   Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.

Thoughts: I'm sure you've all heard me spouting my love for the Lockwood and Co. series and if you haven't you can read them all hereherehere, and here (all in order). If you haven't noticed yet this is, in fact, the same author; the genius behind one of the few ghost stories I've ever read let alone loved, Jonathan Stroud. This was his first series and one he was renowned for so I picked it up one day when I was really missing Lockwood and Co. 
  First off, a warning, this is nothing like Lockwood. While the world itself carries a similar feel (London with a supernatural twist) they are vastly different stories. The characters all hated each other. Nobody liked each other or got along which was probably just as well because if they had agreed on anything they'd be conquering the world. Nathaniel and Bartimaeus were forced to work together but they made their loathing of each other quite clear. This made for a really funny contrast throughout the entire story. Bartimaeus especially. He was just so mean! Nathaniel...well, you felt bad for him, his life had been tough and he was still just a kid; but you couldn't help feeling that he got what he deserved every time his plans backfired. The characters were all really well thought and though I didn't feel that they developed a whole lot it felt as though they were finally read to start...growing up.
  The writing was great, Jonathan Stroud writes with a strong and masterful air, weaving the reader deep into his magic riddled streets of a very real-feeling London. He'll easily have you on the edge of your seat with your hairs raised praying that what you think is about to happen won't actually happen. And then it does.
 The really great part of the story was the plot. The mind games and political battles that the cast wage against each other and the mystery that needs to be uncovered make for a really great adventure. It's not as exciting as Lockwood (I just want you to remember they're nothing alike) but it's still a great story!

Content: D*** and Bloody H*** are mentioned a few times as well as some profanity. There is magic and sometimes the djinni are referred to as demons but they dislike the term and insist on djinni so I don't believe they're meant to be demons as the Christian Bible refers to them. Bartimaeus is not human and has little respect for any other life form or species, this leads to him transforming into a woman sometimes and once he considers turning in a naked woman to shock Nathaniel. He doesn't do it but we hear him think it. There's a bit of violence and some death but it's not excessive and there's no gore. There are a few mature themes and the setting is really dark with some overriding creepy feels. There are some mentions of religion and the symbols used for the demons that could be a little offensive to certain readers for religious reasons.
 All in all, I found the book a little slow at first but it picked up towards the end and it was a really good read. Mostly clean if a little creepy, great for middle-grade readers and older.

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