25 Books You Must Read Before You Turn 15 Signpost

Meet Bart aka Mr Snarky

It was a rainy day in London, 2001. Jonathan Stroud was extremely irritated with water dripping down his neck while he trudged back home with heavy shopping bags. Authors’ minds work in strange ways (thank God for it!) and Jonathan’s wanted to concentrate on anything else but the rain and the load. So he thought up a fantasy turned upside down; where human magicians would be evil and a cantankerous 5000-year old djinni would be the hero. That’s how Bart (Bartimaeus) was born.

The books

The Bartimaeus Trilogy – The Amulet of Samarkhand, The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate – has been set in an alternate universe in present-day London while the fourth book, The Ring of Solomon, a prequel, takes Bartimaeus back to Israel 960 BC. The series is an absolute delight to read – where else would you fall in love with a demon? Snarky and sarcastic, this fourth-level djinni (yes, there are levels) is mistakenly summoned by a young boy. Nathaniel, an 11-year old apprentice magician, now his master, is a magnet for trouble and thinks he can handle it all, though never really. The ‘heroine’ of the book Kitty, an irrepressible leader of the Resistance, is introduced in The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan. By the third book, Nathaniel is a senior magician who in ‘increasingly arrogant’ though the end shows a different picture. Taking us back in time in The Ring of Solomon, the author depicts Bartimaeus at the zenith of his powers even as he is enslaved by King Solomon, the most powerful magician who had made it to the footnotes of the three earlier books as well.

A compulsive read

For all those Harry Potter fans who can’t get enough of the Fantastic Beasts movie, give this irascible djinni a chance. The Bartimaeus Books offer a very enthralling experience; there is action and drama and great doses of humour. Moreover, Jonathan is an expert at pulling out the rug from underneath our feet. Sample this. “That did it. I'd gone through a lot in the past few days. Everyone I met seemed to want a piece of me: djinn, magicians, humans...it made no difference…I'd been summoned, manhandled, shot at, captured, constricted, bossed about and generally taken for granted. And now, to cap it all, this bloke is joining in too, when all I'd been doing was quietly trying to kill him.”

Look out for…

The footnotes! Sardonic in tone, (any guesses whose voice it could be) they even mock the readers. Also, observe how wonderfully issues of slavery and racism have been woven into the narrative. The trilogy allows the reader to jump in at any time though reading the series is an absolute must!

Knowing Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Stroud began his writing career as the editor of a publishing house in Britain and his first book was a…word puzzle! Yes. His next was yet another puzzle book. The Bartimaeus Books were his first works as a full-time writer. His other equally engaging and popular series is for young adults – Lockwood & Co. in which he has moved away from fantasy fiction to the horror thriller genre. Well, he has a fan in Rick Riordan too who called him a genius!


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 7:43:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/in-school/signpost/Meet-Bart-aka-Mr-Snarky/article16722176.ece

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