Monday, September 12, 2011

The Amulet of Samarkand (Jonathan Stroud and Andrew Donkin)

The Amulet of Samarkand
(A Bartimaeus graphic novel)
Jonathan Stroud and Andrew Donkin
Disney Hyperion
Fiction, YA Fantasy/Graphic Novel
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: In a modern-day London ruled by magicians, young Nathaniel finds himself apprenticed to Mr. Underwood, a mage of modest ability, miniscule courage, and less ambition. The boy might have gone on to follow in his footsteps... but when another magician utterly humiliates him (while Underwood does nothing to defend him), a great rage awakens, driving Nathanial to go far beyond anything his master dared to teach him in search of revenge.
After five thousand years in and out of service to various magicians through the ages, the djinni Bartimaeus has pretty much seen it all. When he catches sight of the stripling apprentice who summoned him, he figured it'd be an easy job: a prank on a rival, a levitation, some other flashy but ultimately pointless display of his incredible powers. But this boy has a much more dangerous game in mind. He orders Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand, a powerful artifact with a bloody past, from a dangerous mage. Soon, boy and djinni find themselves caught up on a dark plot of rebellion, black magic, and betrayals that could shake the very foundations of the House of Parliament and England itself.
Based on the novel The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud.

REVIEW: A pretty good interpretation, it captures the essential humor and hidden shadows of Stroud's novel. Having the author involved in the graphic novel adaptation really does make a difference, here, as many of the fun touches that made the book so fun survived translation.  Some parts might have been a bit hard to follow without knowing the original story; it was, necessarily, condensed somewhat from the original. The artwork strikes a nice balance, not too simple to tell the story yet not too busy to clutter the pages. While some of the characters may not have matched my mental images of them, all are recognizable from the descriptions in the original book. If you enjoyed Stroud's books, you'll enjoy this graphic novel.

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