The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
The eponymous character, Bartimaeus, is a five-thousand-year-old djinni, a boisterous and often reluctant spirit. The story follows the career of a teenage magician Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, whom he has summoned and nominally controls, through the alternative history of the peak of London’s domination as a magical oligarchy.
The Ring of Solomon (Bartimaeus #0.5): It is 950 B.C.E., and King Solomon rules Jerusalem with a steely hand; a hand on which gleams a magic ring of immense and unforgiving power. Solomon has just begun work on his marvelous temple, charging Khaba, a formidable magician in his royal court, to oversee its construction. The workforce is an ill-behaved bunch of demons, a particularly unruly djinni named Bartimaeus among them. True to form, Bartimaeus promptly gets kicked off the temple project and assigned the even more miserable task of hunting bandits in the desert. There he crosses paths with Asmira, a highly skilled and loyal captain of the Queen of Sheba’s guard, on a suicidal mission to save her country from Solomon’s imminent attack. Of course, Bartimaeus has no intention of helping her. That is, until Asmira makes him an offer he cannot refuse. . .
The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1): Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the “ultimate sacrifice” for a “noble destiny.”
If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn’t tough enough, Nathaniel’s master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy’s only saving grace is the master’s wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.
Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.
The Golem’s Eye (Bartimaeus #2): At only fourteen, Nathaniel is a rising star: a young magician who is quickly climbing the ranks of the government. There is seemingly nothing he cannot handle, until he is asked to deal with the growing Resistance movement, which is disrupting London life with its thefts and raids. It’s no easy task: the ringleader Kitty and her friends remain elusive, and Nathaniel’s job-and perhaps his life-are soon at risk. As the pressure mounts, he is distracted by a new series of terrifying attacks in the capital. But is it the Resistance again, or something more dangerous still? To uncover the perpetrators, Nathanial must take desperate measures: a journey to the enemy city of Prague and-worse-summoning once again the troublesome, enigmatic, and quick – witted djinni Bartimaeus.
Ptolemy’s Gate (Bartimaeus #3): Three years after the events of The Golem’s Eye, the young magician Nathaniel is an established member of the British Government. But he faces unprecedented problems: foreign wars are going badly and Britain’s enemies are mounting attacks close to London. Increasingly distracted, he is treating Bartimaeus worse than ever: the long-suffering djinni is growing weak from too much time in this world, and his patience is at an end. Meanwhile, undercover in London, Kitty has been stealthily completing her research into magic and Bartimaeus’ past. She hopes to break the endless cycle of conflict between djinn and humans — but will she be able to get anyone to listen?