Bartimaeus, the Djinni
The Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud
How do you write a fantasy novel in alternate history and make it all about a character, that too a lowly Djinni who spends a better part of the book as the slave of humans and still manage to be prominent enough to be the titular character?
Well, only Jonathan Stroud could answer that.
When I first read the Bartimaeus Series, I had assumed it was a trilogy of books. I found the first book, The Amulet of Samarkand, and the title attracted me. Bartimaeus quickly grabbed my attention. He made me laugh with his wit, notice his sarcasm, and relate with his cynicism.
And since then I have always been indescribably happy whenever someone I know told me they would be reading / had read the series. I am fan enough of Bartimaeus to want to own related merchandise, but find that this series has very few fans, at least in my limited circle.
As for Bartimaeus, what attracted me to him was his unabashed narration with footnotes (a style I wish I could follow in real life, when I am exasperated with people) and the way he never hides his real intentions. He serves the magician, Nathaniel, with dexterity and due diligence, but that has nothing to do with his wish.
Bartimaeus the djinni is more familiar to me as a human in his working style – for he knows he would cut Nathaniel’s throat if chance presented itself, and makes no effort to hide his distaste. But when the actual chances do come, he has a conscience that he uses and just steps around, doing his job (albeit with a little pride and self-importance) and sometimes using his discretion to do more than what he was assigned.
If that is not a basic human trait, I don’t know what else is!
Here’s my ode to the character that made me want to yell out, ‘Yay! You go, Bartimaeus!’ at least once every chapter he appeared in.
The song I dedicate to Bartimaeus: Out of Control by Hoobastank (Not because the lyrics match or something, it is just the song I heard when I first read this!)