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Headscratchers: The Bartimaeus Trilogy
  • If spirits don't have genders, why are some referred to as "he" (ie: Bartimaeus) and some as "she" (ie: Queezle)?
    • Bart once said something like "Bartimaeus sounds male enough, I guess", though I really don't know how "Queezle" sounds female. But considering other Insistent Terminology I think they would all object to being called "it" or something, so rather than make up a weird new pronoun, Stroud just flipped a coin.
      • The vast majority of Bartimaeus' forms are male, and he says in the first book that he _can_ take on female forms. Queezle's primary form is female. Of the other demons we see, all have one or more preferred form, and so I always assumed that pronouns referred to apparent sex, rather than actual sex.
      • In book two he actually does take a female form in the hopes of impressing whoever summoned him, unaware that it was Nathaniel again.
      • Perhaps spirits have personalities which, in human terms, tend towards either masculine or feminine, and are thus referred to as a gender. Also, the troper above said that the preferred form usually has a gender; perhaps that's a result (or a cause).
    • Word of God says that spirits gravitate toward whichever gender best suits their personality. So while they are sexless, they do have gender to some extent.

  • What the hell is with all the fanfics? nine out of ten are about how Nathaniel survived the ending of the book. Please, fandom, some originality?
    • Er...he does survive?
    • Not stated outright but it is heavily implied that he died.
      • I think tonnes of molten metal falling on a human and burying him is good enough to count as death, even if we never see the body
      • M-maybe he jumped backward? He certainly was hopping around rather impressively due to the boots earlier... yeah, I got nothing.
      • Actually, it does make a lot of sense that Nathaniel could have gotten away using the seven-league boots.
      • Wish it were the case, but improbable: Bartimaeus make a plain Gory Discretion Shot thing when avoiding to mention the injuries Nathaniel's body sustained, so even without the "bridge drop" he would not survive.
      • Stroud's played with the idea of Nathanial having been dragged into the Other World with Bartimaeus.
  • What are we meant to think about Ptolemy sort-of-but-not appearing as a disembodied voice in Ptolemy's Gate when Kitty invokes his name? Does he still exist, in some form? Possibly in the Other Place?
    • It was Bartimaeus speaking, using Ptolemy's voice. I like to think it was the true essence of Bartimaeus's nature showing through, what with it being described as "old," and "alien" but mostly importantly, like a child's.
      • No, I don't think so. Two problems: first, it was the voice's use of the language that felt alien and odd, which makes sense because Ptolemy spoke Egyptian. It was also being "dredged up from some incalculable distance"... Second, Bartimaeus warns Kitty to keep their conversation in the present, "for fear of what you might awaken ... [when you summon a Djinn], you summon their history with them". And then, of course, "you ought to know what names can do."
      • It was Bartimaeus's memory of Ptolemy being dredged up, not Ptolemy's literal ghost.

  • How do spirits reproduce? They don't seem capable of it, but there must be something going on because spirits eat each other all the time, or are sealed away by their masters. If they didn't reproduce, there should be none of them left.
    • Perhaps for every spirit "eaten", another pops into existence in the Other Place, sort of evening things out. Or they reproduce by budding.
    • Same way they came into existence in the first place, a magician makes up a name, therefore defining them. It'd take a stronger magician than most seen in the series, but I do remember them saying something about that.

  • Why, Why, WHY did Nathaniel give Kitty the amulet of Samarkand? That could have saved his life when he fought Nouda (Is the name right? It's been a while.) and didn't help her at all!
    • He did it because he was worried the Amulet would absorb some of the energy released by the staff decreasing the overall power of the blast and allowing his target to survive the explosion.
    • Actually, the feeling I got from Bart's explanation was that he was making stuff up (And was being asked to do so by Nat). Also, Nat had been hit by a Detonation at that point and it had been implied that he was already going to die. Giving her the Amulet was probably just to make sure the Staff wouldn't kill her.
    • Yes, you can definitely tell from the way it's worded that he was making it up, the Amulet would not have actually absorbed the energy released.
    • Nathaniel was already dying by that point, and both he and Bartimaeus knew it. There was no point in him keeping the Amulet just so he could maybe survive the huge magic blast and then die slowly and painfully of his wounds from the earlier battles.
      • Also, even if the amulet could have protected him from the magic, and even if Nathanial wasn't already dying, the other half of their plan involved collapsing the building on them. That tends to be fatal.

  • Why is it that, for example, Faquarl has a different form on the seventh level than he does on all of the others? The demons' don't actually have set bodies in and of themselves, right, they just create various forms and guises to go about the human world. So how is it that sometimes the demons can 'put on disguises' and look like ordinary humans or animals on the first level instead of having tentacles and antennae and such when it's made explicitly clear that they don't actually even have a 'true' form to begin with? And if they do actually have the tentacles and antennae and other bizarre physiology on some other levels of seeing, why is it that the body mass of that doesn't seem to be of any consequence? For example, when Faquarl is a crow how can he fly if it's just an illusion he's creating and he's actually the tentacle monster that Bartimaeus mentions seeing of him on the seventh level?
    • Bartimeus said in the books that in the Other Place they don't have a definite shape or gender, but they tend to acquire both as a result of being individualized in this world is like a default form. Also, not many spirits appear to like transforming as much as Bartimaeus does, they tend to restrict to few shapes. Is stated that the effort of transformation is energy taxative, that could be a motive. In regard to illusions, they are not "visual" illusions, a lot of other constraints of each shape apply, like weight, height, etc. The body mass apparently changes accordingly. Imagine, just as an example, that the bodies they use are made of living clay: they would be solid, have some of the properties of the object imitated, but they will be an illusion as in "not the real thing".

  • How in the world did magicians see anything above the first plane before the invention of glasses and contact lenses? Did they really rely only on what they could see with their boring, everyday human sight?
    • Fridge Brilliance!!! It is mentioned in a footnote in the first book that cats can see on multiple planes. So what would the magicians do? They would probably each have a cat. All Witches Have Cats anyone?
    • Also, The Mercenary mentions that he can see on seven planes. So at least some humans can naturally see more than the first.

  • This is really nitpicking, but how is it that Bartimaeus mistakes an actual footstool for a djinni in the second book? Djinn can see all planes, so Bartimaeus should have seen that the footstool was a footstool on all the planes, and not a demon in disguise. (Yeah, I know, it was just a funny moment, I shouldn't over-analyse it.)
    • Possibly he didn't look? The books seem to make specific mention that djinn have to actually conciously choose to look on the different planes (I think it refers to cycling through them), so maybe he hadn't bothered to check the other planes before speaking?
    • Rule of Funny in this case, and having just reread the scene, Bart was also trying to irritate Nathaniel.

  • If magicians make a point to never reveal their actual names, how is it that the historical magicians all have the same names as their real world counterparts? Shouldn't that not be the case?
    • Why? When they chose their magician names, they just so happened to pick the names that we are familiar with. Sure that's a bit of a Hand Wave, but its still a logical conclusion.
  • Why does Mrs.Underwood completely support her husband in the raising of Nathaniel/John with no reaction to his care? It is fairly clear early on that Mr.Underwood is subjecting Nathaniel to emotional and social abuse-especially so when he did not protect his apprentice from Lovelace at the party-and proceeded to cause Nathaniel to lash out in the first place. If she had spoken up against his treatment of Nathaniel, the boy would never have had such anger towards his master in the first place, which I can't blame him for.
    • It's been awhile (browsing this page has actually made me want to do a reread), but while the way Underwood treats Nathaniel is certainly horrible, is it implied to be particularly egregious in how a magician treats their apprentice? Perhaps she thinks (or hell, maybe she did try to call him on it and he told her) that this is simply how it's done and Nathaniel will appreciate it once he actually becomes a magician.


Avalon: Web of MagicHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Belgariad

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