Monday, May 30, 2011

MMGM -- The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Middle-Grade novels are coming up in the world!  Last year, when I was lucky enough to attend BEA as a bookseller, I got the chance to sit in on the YA Editors' Buzz Panel. This year, according to PW, not only was there a YA Buzz panel, but there was also, for the first time, a Middle-Grade Buzz Panel! Check out the fantastic Fall 2011 MG books previewed there.

And in the same issue of PW's Children's Bookshelf, I read that YA authors Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong will collaborate on a new MG trilogy about three 12-year-olds descended from Norse gods who have to stop the impending apocalypse.  Sounds cool, no?  Book one is scheduled for spring 2013 and I can't wait!

Clearly, MG is the new YA.  Publishers must have been reading all of our MMGM blogs! (heh heh) 

Now onto today's MMGM recommendation:

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud  (published by Disney-Hyperion, and I'd say it's fine for ages 10 to 14, although some websites say young adult and some websites say 9 to 12!)

Book One: The Amulet of Samarkand (originally published in hardcover in 2003)

And I have to admit I like that original cover better than this newer cover:

I think that's supposed to be Bartimaeus, but, man, it's a tough sell.   That's one scary-looking creature!

Book Two:  The Golem's Eye (2004)

Book Three:  Ptolemy's Gate (2005)

All are available in paperback, of course, and as a three-book paperback boxed set (pubbed Sept 2010).  To see all the cool foreign covers, visit the author's website. 

Source:  hardcovers purchased from the store where I work!

In the first book, Nathaniel is an eleven-year-old magician's apprentice. Teased by a nasty magician named Simon Lovelace, Nathaniel (who thinks he knows magic) wants revenge.  So he calls up an ancient djinni named Bartimaeus, but then he can't control him! Nathaniel sends Bartimaeus to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand and finds himself caught up in a web of magic, intrigue and murder.

As the trilogy progresses, Nathaniel grows up.  In Book Two, he's 14 and learning more and more magic.  Now a clay golem is wreaking havoc on London. Nathaniel and Bartimaeus must figure out the source of its power.

In Book Three, Nathaniel turns 17 and takes a job at Parliament.  Britain's at war, London's under attack, and the commoners are rebelling. To top it off, Bartimaeus is growing weak from spending too much time in the human world.  Nathaniel's longtime rival, Kitty, has been quietly working on a project to dissolve the hostility between humans and djinn. Will Nathaniel help her?  And will he realize what he's doing to Bartimaeus before it's too late?

Why I liked it:
Set in an alternative London (magicians run Parliament), this is a thrilling roller-coaster ride of a trilogy.  The writing is brilliant, imaginative, and rich in detail. Chapters about Nathaniel are written in third person, interspersed with first-person chapters from Bartimaeus's point of view.  And trust me:  Bartimaeus has all the funniest lines (anyone remember the genie voiced by Robin Williams in Disney's Aladdin?  That was who I pictured as I read this).  But these books are not all fun and games.  In fact, the ending of the trilogy is pretty intense. On the whole, this three-book set is definitely worth owning.  Filled with action, adventure, and magic, The Bartimaeus Trilogy would be enjoyed by fans of Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter.

Note that there is a new prequel to the trilogy, Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon (Hyperion, Nov 10, 2010) but I haven't read it.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger.  Go see what she's up to.

Other regulars:
Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Ally Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy
Barbara Watson at Novel and Nouveau
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso

Has anyone read any of these books?  What did you think?  And if not, what middle grade marvels have you read recently?


  1. I liked Bartimaeus' snarky footnotes. These have been very popular in my library for sevearl years-- they have a high AR level and a lot of points for students who love fantasy. And who knew that MG was so up-and-coming. If I stick with something long enough, I guess it's bound to come into fashion.

  2. Ha ha, Ms Yingling. Good point about MG.

    Yay! I also love the snarky footnotes. Almost the best part of the novels! Thanks for stopping by on a holiday.

  3. Hey Joanne...first I have to begin with EEEK! on the MG panels and the upcoming trilogy about the norse god kids! I'm doing a conferenece presentation this August on new and hot YA and MG...I am so, so glad they let me include MG, lol. At first it was all about YA, but we got it changed to include MG.

    Loved the first of the trilogy, the world, the characters, the magic. Must get on to reading the next two!

  4. Hi Deb. Thanks for stopping by. Love your enthusiasm for MG! And kudos on your upcoming presentation on hot new YA and MG. How cool that you convinced them to include MG.

  5. These sound so interesting! Thank you for highlighting them.

    Yay for MG! I was thrilled to hear about the MG Buzz Panel too.

  6. I read the first one and was interested in the world and characters but wasn't totally blown away. But, I own #2 and I'm feeling like I should really get back into the series now! Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. Thanks for the review! I haven't read these, and I love snarky footnotes. That prequel's cover is gorgeous.

  8. Hi Stephanie. Well, they may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed all three volumes.

    Myrna, I agree with you about the prequel's cover. Better than those scary-looking creatures!

  9. Great choice of books. I loved that series. And I heard about the Kelley Armstrong & Melissa Marr book too. I'm so excited. I met Kelley at a book signing and she's the nicest person. Yes, there are a lot of good things happening for middle grade authors finally.

  10. Great, great choice for MMGM! Love, love, love... :-)

  11. Yay for MG! Thanks, Natalie and Shannon.


I've disabled comments on this blog. I may be back at some time in the future, but for now, please visit my website:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.