Monday, September 24, 2007

The Amulet of Samarkand (2003)

The Amulet of SamarkandI had read many books than ever lately. If a year ago, not a night went by without me goggling on the screen to watch films, new and old, nowadays, reading a book was the very last thing i did before i drifted to sleep, and reading a book was also the very first thing i did when i woke up from the slumber. My bed was always littered with books, and more often than not, i sleep with my MacBook opened closely beside me. I read many books at once, well, one at any given time, certainly, but never really comitted to finish any book at any given time. For instance, i'm currently in the middle of reading Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment, Robert Jordan's The Path of Daggers - can't believe that he's already dead, really -, Stephen King's Lisey's Story, and George RR Martin's A Clash of Kings. All save Stephen King's horror flick was fantasy. But, even if i had only begun reading it yesterday, i had finished Jonathan Straud's The Amulet of Samarkand.

It was in 2003 i believe. I was obsessed with demonology and thinking of starting a fantasy series loosely based on their (demon) stories, and just like any other plans that i ever had, i never really comitted to see it through - not a good habit, i know, been thinking to change it for a while, but it always seemed that i still can't get around the problem as of yet. However, for a short period, i had adopted the name Vassago - one demon that i could very much relates to, and of course, since at the time, i read Dean Koontz' Hideaway which features a notorious serial killer that called himself Vassago -, used it for some time in various message-boards, and even went as far as memorized its intricate complex pattern of his sigil. I had stopped when tried as i might, i couldn't get around to weave a story that involved all 130 (or is it 108? Can't remember clearly) named-demons.

The Amulet of Samarkand rekindled these memories of yore.

The first of the Bartimeaus Trilogy told from the point of view of Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice and Bartimeaus, a fourteenth level demon (or, properly, Djinni). The main story of this book, as the title suggests, was the Amulet of Samarkand. Nathaniel, i liked the character, he was not a flawless-made-to-be-a-protagonist Harry Potter-ish character. In fact, he reeks of seven sins - well, sloth and gluttony may not be one of them, but he's full of pride, had exercised enough wrath and envy - that the only thing that could satisfy him as a protagonist was that sometimes the child in him, pure and altruistic came forth, in short, he's not entirely unlikeable but sometimes, you (well, at least i) would wanted to rip the pages, sneaking through the words to see where his ear at and screaming some conscience into him. Not that it matters, but at least it would give me a satisfaction (and a ripped book which would surely give me a sour regret afterwards).

Bartimaeus, well, now he's - for a simplicity purpose, i shall called it as if it was a 'he' - a character worthy enough to had his name imprinted as the main character in the trilogy. He's reminded me a lot to Spider-Man. No, not web slinging from wrist and swing lazily across the city of Manhattan kind of Spider-Man nor a red-blue tight costumed freak kind of Spider-Man nor a Peter Parker, pathetic, miserable, and grumpy kind of Spider-Man, but Spider-Man in his best (which sadly, entirely absent from three of his movies so far), a witted, sometimes sarcastic, but funny as hell Spider-Man. Bartimaeus wasn't one that you'd categorized as all-powerful Djinni. He was at fourteenth level Djinni, for a start, and during the book he fought with more powerful Djinni and trapped in a most dire of situation. What made me think of Spider-Man was that he fought with his mind, always insulting his opponent with wry and sarcastic comments while furiously trying to out-smart his opponent or his surroundings. Moreover, he accompanies his chapters with various hillarious footnotes that give us insight to the world of Djinni, his accomplishments (in one footnote he commented on how the Leaning Tower of Pisa was constructed) and again, more often than not, insulted us, human.

The story itself was rather short, only 222 pages long. But as i read through it i could imagine the motion picture version of this book. And with some notable special-effects laden fights, i was wondering when the Hollywood's decision maker would lay their hands (more importantly, money) to this book. It's only three (as opposed to Harry Potter's seven). All in all, it was a good read.

Edit: I just found out that the film adaptation was scheduled to release around 2009.

My Rating: **1/2 / **** - An enjoyable read, but too short for my taste, and rather unbalanced between two of the main-casts.

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