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The Amulet of Samarkand
A Bartimaeus Graphic Novel
Jonathan Stroud, Andrew Donkin, Lee Sullivan and Nicolas Chapuis

Random House Children’s Books UK
March 2011/ ISBN 9780552563703
Juvenile / Contemporary Fantasy / London (parallel universe)
Amazon US || UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Magician’s apprentice Nathaniel bites off more than he can chew when he unwisely conjures up powerful djinni Bartimaeus and orders him to steal a valuable amulet. The Amulet of Samarkand belongs to an influential rival magician of Nathaniel’s own master, and stealing it sets into motion a whole chain of events that ensure that things won’t be quite the same again for many people…

If the title sounds familiar it is because this is a reissue of it, but a reissue with a difference, as this is a graphic novel unlike the original. Maybe that sounds as though you are being told the same tale twice, but as I read I was intrigued and impressed by how the illustrations moved the story along and brought it to life. I loved the way the scene was immediately set by showing a scene of “modern” London, which was obviously not the London that we know, instantly establishing the fact that this story is set in a parallel universe. Nathaniel seems more likeable in this than in the earlier incarnation of the book and looks very like Harry Potter, while Bartimaeus springs to ebullient life and dominates the story in all his guises as he should, amusing asides intact. Stroud’s parallel London is a mixture of contemporary and Victorian; think magic meets steampunk in a Phillip Pullman type of setting.

I found I enjoyed it more than the other version as less of it seemed more, with the essentials of the story all there, and then some, without any of the longer-winded aspects of the much fatter novel. It is still a place where a few more women are needed, as they don’t seem to play much of a part in Stroud’s world. This apart, I would recommend this to any reluctant readers in search of a good story, anybody who appreciates a good graphic novel and also anybody who has read the original but is keen to experience it in a different way.

Reviewer's Note:
Reviewed 2011
© 2011