Bartimaeus (Bartimaeus trilogy)

Bartimaeus (bar-tee-may-us) is a fictional character in the Bartimaeus Trilogy written by Jonathan Stroud. He is a sarcastic djinni of the fourteenth level and 5,000 years old at the beginning of the first book. His many masters have included Gilgamesh, Solomon, Ptolemy, Tycho Brahe, Faust, Zarbustibal, and, most recently, the British boy magician Nathaniel (known as John Mandrake to his peers), who is his master for the duration of the trilogy. His trademark cheekiness and wry, often hilarious side comments annotate the novels. Enjoying insulting his master for appearance, emotions, and stupidity, the chapters that he narrates often contain humorous footnotes that add information on the nature of spirits and his history.


I am Bartimaeus! I am Sakhr al-Jinni, N'gorso the Mighty and the Serpent of Silver Plumes! I have rebuilt the walls of Uruk, Karnak and Prague. I have spoken with Solomon. I have run with the buffalo fathers of the plains. I have watched over Old Zimbabwe till the stones fell and the jackals fed on its people. I am Bartimaeus!|Bartimaeus| [ [ The Amulet of Samarkand, ch. 1] ]

Some of Bartimaeus's names of power include "Bartimaeus of Uruk", "Rekhyt of Alexandria", "Necho of Jerusalem", "Sakhr Al-Jinni", "N'Gorso the Mighty", the "Serpent of Silver Plumes", and "Wakonda of the Algonquin". He also had a hand in the building of the Parthenon, the Stone Bridge and walls of Prague, the walls of Karnak, Uruk and Jericho, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Of the Leaning Tower, he says in the books that the reason for its leaning is because the Architects didn't take his advice.

As well he has "scattered the magicians of Nimrud, set Barbary Coast aflame, sent cruel Ammet, Koh and Jabor spinning to their doom..." ("Ptolemy's Gate")

Some of his other notable masters included: Nathaniel/John Mandrake, who is Bartimaeus' master for most of the duration of the trilogy, Nefertiti, where he witnessed the power of her anklet, Hiawatha, Solomon, Kathleen Jones, Ptolemy, and the magi of Ramses II, for whom he helped construct many of the notable buildings Ramses commissioned.


Bartimaeus's name was first uncovered in Ancient Sumer c. 3000 B.C. and served various and powerful masters over the following three thousand years. He is known to have served the empire of Prague, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the British, the Native Americans, and the people of the Asian Steppes. He, however, has seen more empires, saying, "It's two thousand, one hundred and twenty-nine years since Ptolemy died. He was fourteen. Eight world empires have risen up and fallen away since that day, and I still carry his face..." One of Bartimaeus's most important masters was Ptolemy, a young magician of ancient Egypt, c.190-195 B.C. Ptolemy was a good master to Bartimaeus and bestowed upon him three great gifts. The first was equal treatment, an almost unheard of kindness between Magician and Djinni. The second was freedom to walk the Earth and "the Other Place" whenever Bartimaeus chose, without the normal restrictions magicians placed upon Djinni. The final and greatest gift was that when death was inevitable, Ptolemy sacrificed the last few seconds of his life to release Bartimaeus (an unheard of action among magicians), leaving him as the only surviving servant of Ptolemy. Interestingly, Nathaniel does the same thing, to break Gladstone's Staff in order to kill Nouda. Out of feelings of deep affection, or possibly even love, Bartimaeus often wears the guise of Ptolemy on most visible planes.

There are also hints during the course of the trilogy that Bartimaeus may be or used to be considerably more powerful and resourceful than he lets on, able to defeat spirits stronger than himself by outwitting them and exploiting their weaknesses. He states that "Ramuthra fled before [his] majesty, Tchue cowered in a crack in the earth, and Hoepo the Thunder Snake ingested his own tail and swallowed himself rather than taste [his] fury." These entities are hinted to be extremely powerful entities from the heart of the other place. In the case with Ramuthra, however, Bartimaeus is clearly bragging since he had actually really little to do with the fall of that mighty demon which was banished by Nathaniel. Therefore, it is possible to think that Bartimaeus is also bragging about Tchue and Hoepo as he is shown easily and effortlessly defeated by a powerful afrit at the beginning of "The Golems Eye" and only survived by pure chance. In addition, he is shown to be able to survive encounters with very powerful spirits, as well as brief asides where he mentions singlehandedly killing an afrit on two occasions, destroying six djinn on another, and single-handedly fighting off twenty foliots. Whether there is any basis in his claims is never confirmed, although it is more than likely as he was capable of defeating both Jabor, a very powerful djinni (described by Bartimaeus as "Moronically stong to the point of indestructible"), and Honorius, an afrit of the ninth level. Although he defeats Jabor several times, most are by luck; however, Bartimaeus simply outwits Jabor twice, once by luring him into a cave and crushing it on him, once by luring Jabor into an otherworldly rift, likely killing Jabor. Against Honorius and Jabor, Bartimaeus is extremely lucky, uses the element of silver, and/or gets the help of others including Nathaniel. However, it is notable that he destroyed many djinn while protecting Ptolemy, stating "The Roman magicians had summoned many djinn. Afrits too. They came at us from all sides. We were four djinn. What could we do? We stood and fought. There, in the street, among the people, we stood and fought for him. Affa died first, then Penrenutet and Teti. I threw up a shield, snatched Ptolemy away. I broke through the wall, killed all those who pursued me, fled across the sky...". In addition, Bartimaeus was the only survivor of the Roman assault on Ptolemy. Later, his roar of rage caused them to momentarily halt their siege of the temple that Ptolemy was hiding in. Bartimaeus was also greatly weakened in books two and three because he was almost never dismissed by Nathaniel to return to the other place, as he consistently complained, near the end of book three, he had trouble fighting foliots. In The Amulet of Samarkand, Bartimaeus also was able to hold a magical shield, blocking the doorway to Simon Lovelace's kitchen, against powerful detonations originating from Jabor for a substantial period.

Role in trilogy

In "The Amulet of Samarkand", Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, who viciously humiliated Nathaniel as a child. As Bartimaeus escapes from Lovelace's home, he comes into contact with Faquarl, a powerful djinni under Lovelace's control. Bartimaeus escapes from Faquarl by letting one of Jabor's attacks hit him. Bartimaeus then runs from the ensuing flood of search entities, and coming into contact with Kitty Jones. Once he returns to Nathaniel, he is charged to hide the Amulet in Arthur Underwood's study. At this point Bartimaeus discovers that Nathaniel's name is his "true" name, and gains power over him. However, Nathaniel finds a way to make sure Bartimaeus does not betray him, by threat of indefinite confinement, and sends him to spy on Lovelace. Caught in running away, he is caught and taken to the Tower of London, where Faquarl and Jabor free him. He is then taken captive by Faquarl, but he soon escapes once again by lighting him on fire. His escape leads Lovelace straight to Nathaniel, however, where Lovelace takes back the Amulet, killing Nathaniel's old master and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Underwood. Nathaniel and Bartimaeus escape, and soon discover that Lovelace is conspiring to destroy the British government and seize power of the British government. Despite Bartimaeus's warnings and advice towards self-preservation, they go after Lovelace, eventually being trapped in a room with Lovelace and every major member of the government. Using the Amulet of Samarkand to protect himself, Lovelace summons Ramuthra into the room, which is then revealed to be a gigantic pentacle. During the conflict, Bartimaeus steals the powerful summoning horn from Lovelace while Nathaniel does the same with the amulet. With his protection gone, Lovelace is destroyed. Nathaniel then manages to break the summoning horn, sending Ramuthra back to the Other Place and closing up the rift. Afterwards, Nathaniel allows Bartimaeus to return to the Other Place (after promising never to summon Bartimaeus again in exchange for Bartimaeus's word that if summoned by another magician, not to reveal Nathaniel's birth name). Before he leaves, Bartimaeus advises Nathaniel not to fall prey to the same cruelties and dishonesties which most other magicians exhibit.

But Nathaniel does summon Bartimaeus again, in "The Golem's Eye", reneging on his original promise, much to the latter's displeasure. They now have to deal with the Resistance, a group of freedom fighters who have come together with the aim of ending the domination of the magicians, as well as with a mysterious monster called a golem, which has the ability to sap the essence of spirits and humans alike. One of the members of the Resistance, Kitty Jones, becomes a survivor when the group is tricked into unleashing a powerful afrit, Honorius that destroys nearly all of them. Pressured by the increased government-wide hunt for her (led by Nathaniel), she decides to continues her own, one-woman, campaign against the magicians. In the meantime, Bartimaeus is commanded to destroy Honorius, who was unleashed by the Resistance. He eventually manages to drown the afrit in the Thames River, but then he is commanded to capture Kitty. She strikes up the beginnings of a bond with Bartimaeus while Mandrake is trying to find a powerful magical item known as Gladstone's Staff. The staff had been taken by Kitty while escaping the afrit, and she leads him to it. The golem then arrives to try and take the staff, but Kitty manages to destroy the golem. She then flees as Nathaniel and Bartimaeus expose Duvall (the chief of police) as the person controlling the golem, in a conspiracy to gain power and eventually become Prime Minister.

The story continues in "Ptolemy's Gate", which reveals some interesting facts about Bartimaeus's background. By now he is quite weak through having been over-used by John Mandrake (who is afraid that if he dismisses him, Bartimaeus will reveal his birth name, Nathaniel, putting him in danger from enemy magicians). Without a recent return to the Other Place, he is close to disintegration, and the increasingly dangerous tasks Mandrake charges him with make it all the harder. Kitty Jones, although not a magician, manages to learn some spells with the aim of tracking Bartimaeus down and trying to establish peace between djinn and humans. This is further complicated when the majority of the government members are captured by Quentin Makepeace, a playwright and false friend of the Prime Minister. Makepeace's plan involves grafting demons into his and a few loyal followers' bodies. But after they complete the summonings, the demons inside them destroy their human consciousnesses and assume complete control, revealing that this whole plan was created by the djinni Faquarl, to rout humanity and end the demons' suffering. During this upheaval, John Mandrake realizes that he has become a different person, the kind of person he detested as a child. Reverting back to his true name, Nathaniel, he teams up with Kitty to escape the immediate threat of being forced into having a demon take over his body, and to find a way to reverse the damage that has been done. Kitty, with Nathaniel's aid, uses a technique called Ptolemy's Gate to cross over to the Other Place and speak to Bartimaeus, who was released when Nathaniel was forced by the demons to dismiss him. Kitty convinces Bartimaeus to allow Nathaniel to summon him using the same procedure the demons were using to grow their numbers, with one major difference: Bartimaeus will cooperate with Nathaniel instead of destroying him, to stop the masterless demons. Avoiding the mysterious Mercenary, known for his resilience to magic and mastery of silver weapons throughout the novels, Nathaniel gets to the vault. Using the Amulet of Samarkand to deal with the pestilence, which destroys the Mercenary (Verroq), he grabs Gladstone's Staff. Together, with Bartimaeus' strength and Nathaniel's intellect, they destroy the demon-human hybrids, eventually coming into conflict with the entity Nouda. This spirit, which Makepeace had summoned into himself, is weaker only than the likes of Ramuthra. With a grim realization of his only chance, Nathaniel dismisses Bartimaeus, so he would live, causing the Staff to break with its full force and bring the Glass Palace down. Bartimaeus escaped, and the last paragraph is told from his point of view as he leaves for the Other Place. While it is most likely that Nathaniel is dead, it is conceivable that the entities in Gladstone's staff protected him out of sheer gratitude for being released.


*Bartimaeus is stated to be a djinni of the fourteenth level during The Amulet of Samarkand, while in The Golem's Eye he is a djinni of the fourth level. Stroud has stated this to be a typo on the forums. [] In Ptolemy's Gate however, he is said to have a Linnaen Level of 6. It is assumed that this is simply a type of classification used in old times, when the book Kitty read was written.


Books In The Trilogy

* "The Amulet of Samarkand" ISBN 0-7868-1859-X
* "The Golem's Eye" ISBN 0-385-60615-X
* "Ptolemy's Gate" ISBN 0-385-60868-3

External links

* [ Official site for the Bartimaeus Trilogy]
* [ Official forums for the Bartimaeus Trilogy]

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