The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud – Review
I’ve just spent a few days in the company of a djinni and a boy magician and loved every minute of it. I’m talking about Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, the protagonists of the aforementioned novel (2003) which, although aimed at the teen reader market is thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced, very well-written and extremely funny to boot.
What’s it all about? Well, it’s set in an England that has all the hallmarks of the modern day (give or take a decade or two) but is ruled by magicians who summon and enslave the djinn, marid, afrits and various demonic entities of Arabic mythology. Imagine Harry Potter written by Michael de Larrabeiti and that gives you a rough idea of what to expect.
The viewpoint switches between the two main characters, with some backstory for Nathaniel, filling in some details on the world without going all Captain Exposition. The use of footnotes for Bartimaeus’ sections, in which he snarkily comments on the goings-on is a very witty and well-executed technique which had me laughing out loud on more than a couple of occasions. It certainly brings home the point of view of the summoned as well as the summoners. Something to think about when your magic user is standing in the middle of his pentacle, about to cast Spiritwrack.
I found myself making time to dip back into it in a way that I did not with some ‘grittier’ and darker adult novels and am delighted to report that there are two more volumes in the series and a prequel which came out a couple of years ago. All three have gone on my reading list.
Next on its way from the library for me is The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley.
Benbo, 3rd level Fighter/4th level Thief - he who dares.
Galzor, 4th level cleric - mysteriously disappeared along with the Third and his coffin.
Zanurax, 3rd level thief (recovering from being partly eaten by a lion and has now gone to join Merlin)
Olaf, 4th level dwarven fighter, now returning to his clan halls
Merlin, 3rd level thief (called away on the business of the Thieves' Guild)
Adthar, 4th level fighter - currently both an Ettin and a statue
Elador, nth level magic-user - called away on special assignments but will act as mentor and adviser to the team
Galadeus, 2nd level ranger - drowned and then eaten by a shark.....aaaaaand he's BACK! aaaaaaaaand he's dead again.
What I'm DMing for 6 new junior players
Old School Links to Wisdom
Give your d12...
...some Old School love
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That's what Old School means to me
"These rules are flexible and open to interpretation - designed not to cover all conceivable situations, but to allow good Referees and Players the freedom to create and play games of their own design."
from the Lulu download page for The White Box S&W from BHP
"This game is unlike chess in that the rules are not cut and dried. In many places, they are guidelines and suggested methods only. This is part of the attraction of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons"
Over halfway to 90, I started playing AD&D when the Police were a cool band and Punk was wild. I am a father to a ten-year-old Junior Grognard and have now managed to establish a five-strong gaming group made up of him and four of his friends, ages ranging from 10 to 11. Solidly Old-School.
High fives and natural 20s to you all!