Wow here we are. The first spoiler discussion for this readalong. I’ll admit that I am a bit nervous about this post because I have never really done the questions about books thing before unless it was in a direct interaction with someone that I buddy read with. Even so I am also really excited to hear all your thoughts about this book.
This is your last reminder that this discussion will have spoilers for The Amulet of Samarkand, questions included. Continue at your own risk! No spoilers for later books please!
Feel free to pick and choose what you want to respond to. If you have your own discussion question or topic that isn’t in any of these questions, please leave it below in seperate comment so we can all respond to it.
1 The Amulet of Samarkand first introduces us to Bartimaeus, a demon, through his point of view. What was your first impression of his character?
2 Bartimaeus point of view uses footnotes. How did you feel about that? Did they pull you out of the story or did they add something for you?
3 After four chapters there is a shift in point of view when the focus is also moved to Nathaniel, the magician that summoned Bartimaeus. We are plunged into his history. How did you feel about this change in order of events and timeline?
4 There is also a change in point of view in a different way. Bartimaeus point of view is thorugh first person point of view while Nathaniel’s is third person point of view, bordering on ominious in places. Why do you think the author choose to do this? Do you think that worked?
5 At the start of the book the author says how Bartimaeus is pronounced. Is that how you say his name in your head or did you have a different way?
6 This series is set in an alternate world of ours where England is in war with the Czech Republic for instance. What are your thoughts on this? What are other things besides the magic that struck you about this alternate world to ours?
7 Magicians summon demons to do their bidding. How do you feel about the treatment of these demons by magicians?
8 Children are taken from/given up by their parents to be trained as a magician to be able to hide their true name. How do you think that has impacted the magician’s social structure?
9 Magical items have quite the appeal to magicians. Which of the magical items mentioned would have an appeal to you? Would you care to have The Amulet of Samarkand? Are their other kinds of magical items you would love to possess?
10 What was one thing from your expectations that was met and one thing that wasn’t met?
My Opinions on The Amulet of Samarkand
This is the second time I have read this book and I am so glad I did. The first time I read it I had read The Golem’s Eye first. I stepped into the middle of the story and that really shapes your expectations. I guess it wasn’t hard to guess that The Amulet of Samarkand couldn’t quite live up to that.
But this time I just really enjoyed seeing our first glance at Bartimaeus again and our young and (sort of) innocent Nathaniel, being shaped in the world that he grew up in. I’m not going to answer all of the questions above (and you certainly don’t have to). I am mostly very curious to see your responses and opinions about this book, and respond to that myself.
The Amulet of Samarkand first introduces us to Bartimaeus, a demon, through his point of view. What was your first impression of his character?
I will forever and always remain a big fan of Bartimaeus. While I can’t go back to my very first impression of him from over 10 years ago, I can tell you that it was an absolute pleasure to be reaquinted with him again in this book. There is something about him that has always drawn me in. He always draws trouble, he is cheeky, he has a sense of humor. His insight on himself is a bit skewed at times and as a demon he can only be expected to be the villain. But he isn’t. He is morally grey, he will choose himself first but in his situation, wouldn’t you too?
Bartimaeus point of view uses footnotes. How did you feel about that? Did they pull you out of the story or did they add something for you?
‘Several conscious levels, that is. By and large, humans can only manage one conscious level, with a couple of more or less uncounscious ones muddling along underneath. Think of it this way: I could read a book with four different stories typed one on top of the other, and take them all in with the same sweep of my eyes. The best I can do for you is footnotes.’ p213 – footnote
I can’t remember ever being annoyed with the footnotes. I think they add something to Bartimaeus character, and they add in more world building in places without flooding the story. You don’t have to read them, but I always did.
At the start of the book the author says how Bartimaeus is pronounced. Is that how you say his name in your head or did you have a different way?
Hah you know I never noticed before this read that the author states how Bartimaeus is suppose to be pronounced. Luckily I did it the right way so now I don’t need to change anything in my head haha.
What are other things besides the magic that struck you about this alternate world to ours?
I thought it was interesting to see how the Tower of London was now used. Poor Bartimaeus. Always in trouble. Since we all have an idea of how that looks or can easily look that up it makes it more aproachable and easier to have an image in your head of what takes place.
Children are taken from/given up by their parents to be trained as a magician to be able to hide their true name. How do you think that has impacted the magician’s social structure?
Very much so. I don’t think that how Nathaniel’s master treated him was any different than how most of the other children were treated. There is very little love or down time in their lives. There is only one focus. It creates very driven, competitive and self-absorbed people. People that from the outside look very confident but deep down are incredibly insecure. Status reassures them they mean something. Everything is kept to a tight-knit circle in fear of losing control. It creates a very big difference with the commoners which in turn strengthens the magician’s belief that they are above commoners.
I’ve thought about adding a link-up but I want this whole post to be open to people that might read this book somewhere down the line as well to come and discuss and respond to the questions with a post of their own and not have it just be so very set down to just this readalong time. So if you choose to respond to this with a blog post of your own, please leave your link down below. I will be checking out all your posts and responses. I can’t wait!