Bartimaeus Sequence

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Bartimaeus Sequence
The Amulet of Samarkand.png
Cover of The Amulet of Samarkand, the first book in the series
Author Jonathan Stroud
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Random House
Published 30 September 2003 – 14 October 2010
Media type Print

The Bartimaeus Sequence[1] is a series of children's novels of alternate history, fantasy and magic. It was written by British writer Jonathan Stroud and consists of a trilogy published from 2003 to 2005 and a prequel novel published in 2010. The eponymous character, Bartimaeus, is a five-thousand-year-old djinni, a boisterous and often reluctant spirit. The story follows the career of a teenage magician Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, whom he has summoned and nominally controls, through the alternative history of the peak of London's domination as a magical oligarchy.

Setting[edit]

The novels are set in London in an alternate history, though many countries, cities, events and people are from actual history (such as Prague, Solomon, the Holy 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, magicians (the ruling class) and commoners. 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 are humans, no more magical than other human beings. For example, their ability to see demons is the result of wearing special contact lenses. They perform their magic indirectly by summoning, binding, and controlling various types of spirits from the Other Place and by creating magical artifacts.

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. The commoners are fully aware of the magical world and know of the magicians' dominance. Increasingly during the time period of these stories, some commoners are born with a resistance to magic, or a sensitivity to its presence, or with the ability to see demons naturally.

The books blend 20th-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. Aeroplanes 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, as well as 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.

Plot summary[edit]

As the books progress, three story arcs become evident. The largest and overarching plot line is the rise and fall of London as a global authority. The second and third are more personal: the boy changing from the pitiful, yet noble, Nathaniel, to the power-hungry, arrogant John Mandrake and finally earning back his humility and nobility; and the third, involving Kitty and Bartimaeus. In the third story arc, Kitty proves her faith to Bartimaeus by doing something only one non-demon had ever done (Ptolemy) when she goes to the Other Place. John Mandrake (Nathaniel) also shows unusual courage and loyalty as he dismisses Bartimaeus, when surely they were going to die, eventually saving the life of a demon. They end up restoring each other's faith in their races.

Each of the three books is named for a magical artifact or spell: the Amulet of Samarkand, named after the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, renders the wearer invulnerable to magical attacks; a Golem's Eye is an enchanted piece of clay in the form of an eye that when placed in the forehead of a Golem, enables one to control the golem; Ptolemy's Gate, named for ancient Greek astrologer and mathematician Ptolemy of Alexandria, is a method that enables a human to enter the realm of spirits.

The Amulet of Samarkand[edit]

The first book in the series, published 2003, introduces Nathaniel as the gifted 12-year-old apprentice of a middle-aged mid-level magician, Arthur Underwood. He assumes his magician name, John Mandrake, to protect him from rivals who would wish to harm him. When the magician Simon Lovelace cruelly humiliates Nathaniel in public, Nathaniel decides to take revenge by stealing Lovelace's most powerful possession, the Amulet of Samarkand. The Amulet makes the wearer invulnerable to magical (but not physical) attack. Unknown to his tutor, he begins the study of advanced magic in order to summon the djinni Bartimaeus and enslave him. Bartimaeus soon overhears Nathaniel's birth-name, which greatly reduces Nathaniel's control over him, because demons can then cast counterspells. Things soon get out of hand and Bartimaeus and Nathaniel find themselves caught in the middle of magical espionage, murder, blackmail, and revolt. Together, the two of them defeat Lovelace and his most powerful demon, Ramuthra, who was last seen destroying an entire nation. These actions ended an uneasy truce between the young magician and Bartimaeus, resulting in the demon returning to whence he came.

The Golem's Eye[edit]

Main article: The Golem's Eye

Published in 2004, the second book picks up two years and eight months later and features Nathaniel as a junior magician working his way up the government ranks. In this book Kitty Jones is introduced as an important character. She is a part of the Resistance movement which seeks to end the oppressive rule of the magicians. Nathaniel is tasked by his superiors to crush the Resistance and capturing its members. His task is complicated when a seemingly invulnerable clay golem starts to make random attacks on London. Much to the displeasure of Bartimaeus, Nathaniel recalls the djinni to aid him in uncovering the origins of the golem and to save his own skin. In the end, the golem is revealed to have been created by Kavka, a Czech magician, and animated by Henry Duvall, the London Chief of Police.

Ptolemy's Gate[edit]

Main article: Ptolemy's Gate

In the final book of the series, published 2005, Nathaniel is a senior magician and despite his extreme youth, a member of the ruling council, an elite class of magicians in the government. Bartimaeus is still trapped on Earth by Nathaniel and is treated with disdain, continuously weakening as he is not allowed to return to the Other Place. Meanwhile, Kitty Jones has been hiding undercover and completing her research on magic and spirits. She hopes that this will enable her to break the endless cycles of conflicts between djinn and humans. The main plot of this story is a conspiracy to overthrow the government which causes the most dangerous threat in the history of magic. Together, Nathaniel, Bartimaeus and Kitty try to save the city of London from this dangerous threat.

Bartimaeus reveals to the reader the presence of an endless cycle wherein magicians summon spirits, magicians rule over commoners, spirits spread magic throughout a city, some of the commoners gain a resistance to magic, the commoners rebel against the magicians, the magicians are overthrown and the spirits return to the Other Place until another magical empire rises to dominance. This cycle proves to be the main plot, which culminates in the overthrowing of London. Bartimaeus makes references to other magical empires, such as Baghdad, Rome and Egypt, all of which have fallen from dominance as well.

The Ring of Solomon[edit]

Main article: The Ring of Solomon

The Ring of Solomon revisits the universe created in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, although the setting shifts from modern London to Jerusalem, 950 BC. It follows the djinni's adventures during the reign of King Solomon, who was frequently referenced in the footnotes during the trilogy. It was released in the United Kingdom on 14 October 2010 and in the U.S. on November 2, 2010. The story revolves around the troubles Bartimaeus faces while enslaved to Solomon's magicians, as he gets caught between the plots of his master to overthrow Solomon, and the schemes of Asmira, captain of the guard of the Queen of Sheba who sent her to assassinate Solomon.

Principal characters[edit]

In a Bartimaeus trilogy forum, Jonathan Stroud has remarked that he was planning to make a Bartimaeus "bible". In fact, the main characters' names were borrowed from the Bible. The biblical Bartimaeus was a man whom Jesus cured from his blindness. Nathaniel, John and Ptolemy were names adopted from the story of Bartholomew the Apostle in the Gospel of John. Simon was also the name of an apostle. Mandrake the Magician was a superhero in a syndicated newspaper comic strip.

The following is a list of characters in the Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud. The three most prominent characters are Bartimaeus, a djinn, Kitty Jones, a commoner, and Nathaniel, a magician. Most other characters of any significance are listed by name. Minor characters not listed are implicitly collected in the "Organizations and unnamed characters" section as members of various organizations or types of spirits.

Magicians[edit]

Nathaniel/John Mandrake[edit]

Nathaniel is a magician in the British magical oligarchy. Ptolemy's Gate refers to Nathaniel as the strongest magician on the Council with the possible exception of his old master Jessica Whitwell.

Rupert Devereaux[edit]

Rupert Deveraux was the British Prime Minister and de jure Chief of Police in Ptolemy's Gate. He had a charismatic personality that had greatly inspired Mandrake when he was young, though this respect later dwindled. He had a great passion for the performing arts and so was great friends with the playwright Quentin Makepeace. Near his death date, he grew paranoid with all the chances of betrayal within the government. Deveraux was transformed into a hybrid by Nouda and killed by the Nathaniel/Bartimaeus hybrid.

Simon Lovelace[edit]

The main antagonist of the first book, Lovelace was a junior minister and rising star in the Ministry of Trade until, in his ambition, he tried to rise too fast and as a result was sidelined by Prime Minister Rupert Devereaux. Thereafter, he seeks to exact revenge.

Henry Duvall[edit]

The main antagonist of the second book, Duvall used a golem to wreak havoc in London. He was a werewolf and Chief of the Night Police for the British Empire, a dominating position. Though he appeared to be the ringleader of the conspiracy, the real mastermind was later revealed to be Quentin Makepeace. At the end of the second book, he is arrested and imprisoned. He is later mentioned to have committed suicide. Deveraux takes up the role but leaves most of the work to his former apprentice and Deputy Chief Jane Farrar.

Jane Farrar[edit]

Jane Farrar was the Assistant to the Chief of Police in The Golem's Eye and de facto Chief of Police in Ptolemy's Gate. In the second book, she attempted to charm and seduce Mandrake to get information for her master, Henry Duvall, though she was never associated with the conspiracy. In the third book, she is also shown as a brief romantic interest to Mandrake, although this connection quickly dwindles. Farrar is easily captured by a demon. After being freed by Kitty, Farrar arrogantly rounds up the Night Police to combat the hybrids, refusing the remaining magicians and Kitty's help. After the battle Farrar is missing and presumed dead.

Quentin Makepeace (aka 'the benefactor')[edit]

One of the antagonists of the third book and in many ways the main antagonist of the series, Makepeace was a playwright. He helped to orchestrate the Lovelace Conspiracy and the Golem Affair, as well as the raid upon Westminster Abbey by the Resistance, but none of these plans came to fruition, so he eventually decided to orchestrate a plan of his own, using spirits to kidnap major members of the government. Makepeace transforms into a hybrid with the powerful demon Nouda. Nouda destroys Makepeace's mind. His body is later destroyed by Nouda's powerful energy.

Khaba the Cruel[edit]

The main antagonist of The Ring of Solomon, an Egyptian magician in the service of King Solomon. He is described as being bald with moist eyes and twin scars on his cheeks. Originally a student of the priests of Ra in Karnak he left for Jerusalem after gaining enough power. He is perhaps the most powerful magician in the series as he is capable of summoning a marid on his own when, according to Bartimaeus, it normally takes at least two.

Jessica Whitwell[edit]

Jessica Whitwell was Security Minister throughout the series and died trying to escape the hybrids with Shubit, her afrit, being the only magician with the courage to attempt to stand up to Nouda and the others, other than John Mandrake. She was considered to be possibly the most powerful magician in the government at the time of the series by John Mandrake. In The Amulet of Samarkand, it is said that she destroyed a marid (the most powerful type of spirit summoned by magicians) by herself without the help of her own spirit. Throughout the series, she is shown to be very professional, strict, as well as above all, powerful. Whitwell was Nathaniel' s teacher though their relationship dwindles to a rivalry. Whitwell is the only magician to choose death over becoming a hybrid and dies in a skirmish with Nouda' s forces.

Historical magicians[edit]

  • Loew was a 16th-century Jewish magician in Prague who created the first golem
  • Tycho Brahe was a 16th-century magician and one of Bartimaeus' old masters
  • William Ewart Gladstone was a very powerful nineteenth-century British magician, who rose to become a Prime Minister. He led the Grand Army of the British Empire on conquests that decimated countries and made them a part of the British Empire, largely through the means of his staff. At the height of the Czech Empire, called The Holy Roman Empire by Bartimaeus, he talked the commoner Parliament into handing authority to him and the magicians, as well as raised Britain to a dominating empire. His staff is endowed with vast magical powers. Even without the staff he is still considered to be the most powerful magician in the history of Britain, able to summon a legion of Afrits on his own.
  • Benjamin Disraeli was another magician-prime minister, Disraeli was a rival of Gladstone's and they had a magical duel on Westminster Common.
  • Ptolemy was a second-century BCE magician who was one of the first magicians to study the Other Place and the first one to visit there and return. For this purpose, he created Ptolemy's Gate, a method of reversing summons so that one could travel to the Other Place.
  • King Solomon (named for the biblical King of Israel/Judah) was a very powerful magician who lived in the Middle East around 950 BCE and had a magical ring, the Seal of Solomon, from which he could control over 20,000 spirits (Bartimaeus, and Faquarl being among them). He features prominently in The Ring of Solomon. Although initially depicted as a typically greedy and heartless ruler it is revealed that he is actually a fairly virtuous individual, using his ring mainly for the common good.
  • Zarbustibal of Yemen was at one time, the djinni Bartimaeus' master. It is said in Ptolemy's Gate that he was extremely ugly and that spirits wishing to terrify others sometimes used his guise. It is also said in The Ring of Solomon that the Dismal Flame was refined by Zarbustibal and then became known as the Shriveling Fire.

Commoners[edit]

Kitty Jones[edit]

Kathleen "Kitty" Jones, is a commoner and youthful mid-level member of the Resistance, opposed to the magical oligarchy that rules Britain. Like other members of the Resistance she is resistant to the effects of magical attacks and is able to withstand assaults from demons that would kill normal humans. In book three, Ptolemy's Gate, she assumes a more important role as she searches to look for an end to the human-djinni hatred and delves into some of Bartimaeus's history. She becomes the second human to travel to the Other Place. After Nathaniel's death, she declines to be part of the new government.

Terence E. Pennyfeather[edit]

Mr. Pennyfeather was the leader of the Resistance in The Golem's Eye. Though his intentions were noble, Kitty came to see Pennyfeather as being as greedy as the magicians themselves. Pennyfeather is mortally wounded by Honorius and while dying tells Kitty to leave him behind. Honorius briefly impersonates him.

Jakob Hyrnek[edit]

Jakob Hyrnek was a commoner and the best friend of Kitty Jones, who did not share her resilience against magic. Mandrake captures Hyrnek to lure Kitty out. This succeeds but is interrupted by Duvall' s golem and Honorius. After the golem kills Honorius and Kitty destroys the golem, Jakob and his family leave for Prague. In Ptolemy's Gate, Jakob is briefly mentioned as to send Kitty postcards.

The Mercenary (Verroq)[edit]

The Mercenary is a huge, muscular man who appears in all three books of the trilogy. His master is Makepeace and the Mercenary was instrumental in all of the rebellions attempted in the trilogy. It is unknown where he comes from, but he appears to be from the same Middle-Eastern sect as the assassins who are killed by Bartimaeus in the Ancient Egypt. He has an enormous amount of resilience and can see on all seven planes. His physical endurance is also very high, as he survives Bartimaeus crushing him with a statue and throwing him down a mountainside. The mercenary is highly skilled with silver weapons and comes very close to killing Bartimaeus several times. The Mercenary owns a pair of Seven-league boots, which make him even more deadly and stealthy. The Mercenary is motivated solely by wealth and his survival.

Spirits[edit]

Ammet[edit]

Ammet was a 7th level marid in service to the magician Khaba the Cruel in The Ring of Solomon. Ammet is later imprisoned within a wine bottle at the bottom of the sea.

Bartimaeus[edit]

The titular (and most prominent) character of the series, is a sarcastic and cheeky djinni of the fourth (or fourteenth in Amulet of Samarkand) level and 5,000 years old at the beginning of the trilogy. His master is the British magician Nathaniel. His trademark cheekiness and wry, often hilarious side comments annotate the novels. Enjoying insulting his master for appearance, emotions, as well as stupidity, the chapters that he narrates often contain humorous footnotes that add information on the nature of spirits and his history. Although he is only a middle-class djinni, his quick wits often save him in difficult situations. He has a fairly large ego, due to his many accomplishments over the ages. He is fairly powerful for a Djinn, but has often been forced to retreat against stronger foes such as Jabor and Faquarl. He continually boasts of his many exploits.

Faquarl[edit]

Faquarl is a greater djinni of both power and intelligence (able to take out four other greater djinni), Faquarl is a constant contender with Bartimaeus, who always manages to escape from him by sheer luck or cunning. He favors the form of a chef for unknown reasons and enjoys spending time in kitchens for the extra space and variety of sharp weapons found there. In the first book, he is in the service of Simon Lovelace. Shortly before the third book, Ptolemy's Gate, he allows himself to be enslaved in the human body of Clem Hopkins. Later, he reveals that he was manipulating Makepeace, acting as though Hopkins was still in control over his own body.

Honorius[edit]

Honorius was a ninth-level afrit in service to the prominent 19th century British magician Gladstone. He was charged to fight in the Siege of Prague, guard Gladstone's treasures for eternity and kill anyone who broke into Gladstone's tomb. He was unique in that he didn't have his own form on Earth: instead, he encased himself in Gladstone's bones, which cured the pain of an extended stay on Earth, but seems also to have driven him mad. Honorius drowns in the Thames River but reemerges and attempts to kill both Bartimaeus and Kitty. The arrival of Duvall's golem prompts him to attack the golem. Honorius is killed during this battle.

Jabor[edit]

Jabor (juh-bor), a greater djinni in the service of Simon Lovelace, is introduced and ultimately destroyed in The Amulet of Samarkand. A powerful Djinni, his preferred form is that of a tall red-skinned man with the head of a jackal, reminiscent of Anubis, Egyptian god in charge of guarding the dead. He previously worked at the temple in Ombos Egypt, where he devoured human sacrifices. He speaks rarely, as well as relies on brute strength and violence, often disregarding injury to himself. Bartimaeus describes him as "moronically strong to the point of indestructible".

Nouda[edit]

An immensely powerful spirit with a long history of destruction, he is summoned by Quentin Makepeace and enters his body. After destroying Makepeace's mind, he is able to control his body and sets about on a systematic destruction of mankind, starting with London. After a time of raiding London with his hybrids, his essence became stronger and Makepeace's body was destroyed, making Nouda vulnerable to Nathaniel's attacks. He believes that spirits should rule Earth, all as equals, as well as is manipulated by Faquarl.

Was also summoned by Montezuma and the Aztec Empire. Has high tendency for consuming humans and destroying cities.

Queezle[edit]

Queezle was a female djinni in service to Mr Ffoukes who appeared in the Golem's Eye. She is an extremely close friend of Bartimaeus: the two seeming to have a "deep relationship" and their relationship went at least back to Prague, where she and Bartimaeus fought together, as well as was around 1500 years old. She is killed by Duvall's golem.

Ramuthra[edit]

One of the most powerful spirits in the trilogy. It was summoned by Simon Lovelace to destroy the British government in an attempted coup d'état. According to Bartimaeus, at least four magicians would be needed to summon an entity of Ramuthra's power. Ramuthra "disrupts the elements", sending out "waves" or "ripples" of energy that alter the nature of objects and magic around it: turning crystal into water, wood into cheese, a man's face into a woman's, as well as a Pestilence into a cloud of flowers, for example. Ramuthra is transparent, visible only by the way the planes are distorted around its edges and a slight magnification of objects seen through it. Its voice comes "from everywhere and nowhere" sounding "like a great crowd, speaking in unison."

Simpkin[edit]

Simpkin was a foliot in service to Mr Pinn who appeared in the first two volumes of the series and was one of the few spirits who actually enjoyed his servitude and was therefore regarded by others with hatred and contempt. He favoured the form of a small boy on the first plane, but was actually small and lime-green, with a bow-legged walk and a head that changes colour and size to show his emotions. Simpkins is killed by Duvall's golem during its first attack in The Golem's Eye.

Shubit[edit]

Shubit was an afrit in service to Ms Whitwell who appeared in all three volumes of the series. He broke his ties with her when she was killed and favoured the form of a bear. When going into direct battle, his claws would become nearly as long as scimitars. He was noted for his efficiency and also his humbleness and politeness.

Uraziel[edit]

Also known as the Spirit of the Ring, Uraziel is the most powerful named spirit in the whole series and grants the person who has the Ring of Solomon on their finger limitless power at the cost of their lifeforce. He seems to have a very strong bond with his master Solomon. He is able to instantly take the Queen of Sheba to Solomon's palace when Solomon desires it, as well as being the source of power for the Ring.

List of magical places, spells and objects[edit]

  • Amulet of Samarkand - named for the ancient city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where it was forged; confers immunity to magical attack upon the wearer
  • Golem's Eye - clay in the form of an eye that attaches to the forehead of a golem and enables a magician to see through the eyes of the golem and issue it commands
  • Ptolemy's Gate - a kind of reverse summoning, a method that enables a human to enter the 'other place' where spirits dwell
  • Scrying Glass - spectacles that enable a magician to see into the first few planes
  • Animating Parchment - a spell that together with a golem's eye, activates a golem
  • Staff of Gladstone - a magical artifact created by the great 19th century magician Gladstone. Upon incantation, it casts lightning bolt, and is capable of destroying even powerful spirits (like Ramutha in the Amulet of Samarkand)
  • Golem - a homonculus made of clay activated via a golem's eye and activating parchment. A Golem is immune to magical attack - any such attempt is likely to result in a backlash that injures or kills the attacker. A Golem features prominently in the second book, The Golem's Eye.
  • Seven-league Boots - boots that enable the wearer to take seven-league strides, thereby conferring great speed and stealth
  • Spell of Indefinite Confinement
  • Black Tumbler spell
  • Ring of Solomon, a ring originally owned by King Solomon able to summon a powerful spirit
  • the Seven Planes
  • the Other Place - the habitation of the spirits, where time does not exist and where spirits have no distinct identities, but are merely a single consciousness. The demons' essences are allowed to mingle freely and the laws of time and space are of no concern. There is no order in this world, because there is no matter: only infinite swirling colours and flashes of memories which are shared by all spirits there, due to their lack of identity. In the Other Place, the essence of the demons can heal and replenish itself (since dwelling in the human world is exhausting to spirits). The only (non-demon) visitors to the Other Place have been Ptolemy (using a focusing reversal while summoning) and Kitty Jones. Other magicians have tried but little is known of their attempts. The Other Place is where Bartimaeus, one of the main protagonists and a fourth level djinni, dwells when he is not enslaved by a magician.
  • Vigilance Spheres

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About the Series". The Official Bartimaeus Site. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 

External links[edit]