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The Amulet of Samarkand  - Jonathan Stroud I have no idea why I've put off reading this delightful book for so long - I really loved it. I mean, I really loved it.

Well, I mostly loved Bartimaeus, the many-thousand-years-old djinn. He's exactly the sort of character I adore; arrogant, full of himself, sarcastic, witty, intelligent, cunning, not particularly subservient (all this only works for a character if he actually is that awesome, and not fifteen or so but preferably a few hundred/thousand years old).

Bartimaeus made the book for me - the plot, straightforward enough as it was, was enjoyable and fast-paced, but I doubt I'd have enjoyed it half as much with another main character. Next to Bartimaeus, Nathaniel - the second protagonist, a boy of twelve - paled in comparison and his chapters were a bit of a struggle to get through at first, especially as he's far from being the most likeable of young heroes, being arrogant (not quite as admirable in a boy of twelve), ambitious, sullen and sly. However, I suspect that while Bartimaeus is the instant draw of these books, it's going to be Nathaniel's character development that will actually provide more interest later on in the series.