I’m still not sure who the protagonist was in this story. Maybe it was the young boy, Nathaniel, a precocious magician trainee or more likely, Bartimaeus, a powerful demon that he conjured and assigned to steal the Amulet of Samarkand. It certainly wasn’t Simon Lovelace, a mature and dangerous magician who humiliated Nathaniel inciting his idealistic boyhood revenge.
Regardless, Stroud is a master storyteller who takes us through the clandestine occult journey of the demon driven by Nathaniel’s naïveté. I found this engaging novel in the Junior Reader section of a local bookstore. The diction and language is not middle-grade. I was forced to my dictionary many times. I can only conclude that it was placed in this section because one of the protagonists, Nathaniel, was eleven-years-old.
The tension in the plot was uneven, although constantly rising toward a climax that was as unexpected as it was totally inescapable. I heartily recommend this to any young reader or adult who enjoys high fantasy and the literary use of the English language.