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Literature / The Bartimaeus Trilogy

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A modern-day London run by magicians.

A children's fantasy novel series by Jonathan Stroud.

In an alternate version of modern London, a world ruled by magicians, a precocious young apprentice magician named Nathaniel summons the ancient, powerful, wisecracking djinni Bartimaeus to steal a valuable amulet. He quickly finds himself caught up in a dark world of corruption and political intrigue with the unwilling djinni in tow.

As Nathaniel learns to navigate the realm of magic and politics, he crosses paths with Kitty Jones, a "commoner" with ties to the mysterious group called the Resistance.

The trilogy by Jonathan Stroud:

  • The Amulet of Samarkand
  • The Golem's Eye
  • Ptolemy's Gate
  • The Ring of Solomon, a prequel set, surprisingly enough, in the time of Solomon.

In 2019, Start Media optioned both film and television rights for the series.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Kitty, Asmira from the prequel, and some of the "female" demons, assuming they have genders.
  • Adipose Rex: The last Czech emperor was notably pudgy. British propaganda exaggerates this, claiming he was so fat he couldn't walk and had to be moved around in a specialized wheelchair.
  • Adults Are Useless: Not all of them, admittedly, but the Big Bads are all defeated with the brains of a kid or a couple of kids, the mentors are all fairweather and the commoner adults are generally sheep. This may be somewhat of an overstatement, though, as most of the plotting and trickery is pulled off by a djinni who is thousands of years old. Additionally, many adult commoners secretly resist the government in later novels.
    • Played mostly straight, with magicians, at Lovelace's party.
  • Affably Evil: Almost all of the magicians.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Averted; Nathaniel's reaction to The Call Knows Where You Live is surprisingly cold for a young boy. Also inverted to an extent. In the first book, he is devastated at Mrs. Underwood's death, but by the second, his hair takes top priority. Though also played straight in the third book where he has complex feelings about the cruelties of the government and his own part in it, culminating in his self-sacrifice.
  • Alchemic Elementals: Djinn are "spirits of air and fire" (afrits are apparently solely fire-based) and golems are embodiments of earth. Not much is known about water elementals, though one is used as a weapon in the first book.
  • All Myths Are True: Mythology from all over the world shows up in this universe, though it is mostly explained by djinni influence - and, if Bartimaeus is to be believed, he had a hand on it.
  • Alternate History: William Gladstone in this universe led a campaign to conquer all of Europe... and was a magician. Since magic exists in this version of our world, it also fits the Never Was This Universe type of Alternate History.
  • Alternate Landmark History: Many prominent British landmarks have been put to purposes specific for the use of magicians, such as the Tower of London serving as headquarters for both the police and security divisions of the magical government, as well as the nation's most secure prison. Westminster Abbey, meanwhile, has become exclusively a mortuary for the nation's most prominent deceased magicians.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Ruthlessly subverted. "Demons" are usually viewed by magicians as violent and untrustworthy creatures, and sure, most spirits will rip their masters to pieces if they make even the smallest mistake in the summoning ritual or even give an ambiguous command. However, if you were ripped out of your home dimension into a world where merely existing causes you constant pain and enslaved to carry out the commands of some jackass, you would probably be pissed too. Antagonistic demons in the series are usually Just Following Orders, and the main viewpoint character Bartimaeus is often more moral than his "master".
  • Amazon Brigade: The hereditary guards of the Queen of Sheba in The Ring of Solomon.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Nathaniel's desire to achieve success in the magician's government turns him increasingly ruthless and cold.
  • America Is Still a Colony: The trilogy is set sometime in an alternate 2000's or so (it mentions that is over 100 years since Gladstone's death in 1898), and the third book mentions offhand that the The American Revolution is only just beginning. Some of the demons are threatened with "being sent to fight in the Colonies."
  • And I Must Scream: The spell of Indefinite Confinement is like this to spirits - they wither away in their tiny prisons, but they are denied even the release of death. However, a far, far worse case, perilously close to the Trope Namer, pops up in The Ring of Solomon - Khaba's Essence Cages.
    Within the sphere: an image, moving. A creature, slow, blind, and in great pain, lost in a place of darkness. Silent, upside-down, and sagging, we watched the lost, maimed thing. We watched it for a long time.note 
  • Animesque: Consciously or not, the trilogy utilizes a surprising number of tropes found in anime, particularly of the shonen variety or the Light Novel story style. We have an Alternate History where there is a very specific type of Magic A Is Magic A which has a defined set of terms (i.e. "detonation", "flux"...), impossibly young characters working for the government and even occupying power positions, a clear cut Tsundere who initially opposes the protagonist, antagonists who are of the Sissy Villain type, and even two characters doing Fusion Dance to defeat the final villain.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Nathaniel, at his high points.
    • Bartimaeus and Kitty too. (Yes, Kitty has noble intentions, but do remember that she's a terrorist.) So, everyone.
  • Anti-Magic: We see several kinds of it throughout the series.
    • Protective amulets, and the Amulet of Samarkand in particular, have the ability to NoSell magical attacks.
    • One of the spells that djinn and other spirits can cast, Flux, is meant to disrupt other magical effects and attacks.
    • The "resilience" possessed by Kitty Jones and several other characters.
    • This quality is the most dangerous property of a Golem: as an immensely powerful creature of earth, it is anathema to the spirits composed of air and fire that the magicians summon.
  • Anti-Villain: Nathaniel becomes one at the low point of his Character Development.
  • Apothecary Alligator: Mentioned in Book 1 in the description of the magician Arthur Underwood's study. Bart notes that this is a good indication that Underwood is distinctly second rate and trying to hide it; truly powerful magicians favor a sleek, modern look.
  • Argument of Contradictions: In The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus and Asmira get into this after he insists that her supposed great skill with magic is, in fact, all a bluff. (He's more or less correct.) After a bit of "It is not!" / "Is so too!", he takes the argument itself as another point in favor for his side, commenting "How many real magicians do you think get involved in stroppy little verbal spats like this? They'd have hit me with the Dark Scouring by now and had done with it. ... You don't even know what a Dark Scouring is, do you?"
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Two of them, in fairly close succession from Kitty Jones. In Ptolemy's Gate, Kitty has summoned Bartimaeus, hoping that together they can stop the magicians' rule. He, however, seemingly has no desire to help her. He also claims that throughout history, the enmity between him and other magicians has been absolute. "Absolute tripe. What about you and Ptolemy?" she replies, having discovered in her extensive research that Bartimaeus was known to have an unusual bond with a boy magician from Alexandria, a boy prince and Magician named Ptolemy. She knows immediately from Bartimaeus's reaction that her theory is correct, for all of his usual blustering and bravado immediately ceases. Nevertheless, he tries to play it off, asking her what she presumes to know about him, and saying that she mentioned a name and she knows what names can do. Thus comes her second question: "If you're so keen to keep matters in the present, why do you persist in wearing...his form?"
  • Armor-Piercing Response: In The Ring of Solomon Asmira has been a very loyal hereditary guard for the queen of Sheba, even watching her mother die for the previous queen. Due to an incident in Sheba she is sent to Jerusalem. Towards the end of the novel she has stolen the titular ring and is leaving Jerusalem with it. In the process she learns that the reason for her mission was false and doesn't want to confront that fact. Bartimaeus then asks her "Why didn't you kill Solomon? While she hesitates at first she soon argues again and Bartimaeus cuts through her excuses until he finally hits her with a much more devastating response: If her queen is not infallible than it calls into question everything about her life including her mother's sacrifice. Unfortunately this causes her to suffer a Heroic BSoD, and she doesn't act quickly enough when Khaba comes looking for the ring.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: Solomon to Asmira in The Ring of Solomon after Khaba is defeated and the Ring returned to him.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Usually averted. Subverted at one point in the prequel where Bartimaeus is said to "shrug" and "frown" in the form of a moth and then snarkily replaces them with less anthropomorphic terms in the footnotes.
    Bartimaeus: The lion looked sheepish. note 
  • Ascended Extra: Kitty is only in a few brief scenes in Amulet. She is a major POV character in the other two books.
  • Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence: How Bartimaeus' travelling back to the Other Place at the end of each book is described.
  • Astral Projection: In the first book, Underwood does this and discovers that Nathaniel has been spying on him. Things nearly turn very nasty, until he gets called away.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Bartimaeus turns into a lioness instead of a lion, remarking that while the mane of a male Lion is quite flashy, it creates a blind spot. This is something that he's learned from hard experience.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Justified since the government consists of powerful magicians. Also see Klingon Promotion below.
  • Badass Boast: Bartimaeus, constantly. For example: "I am Bartimaeus of Uruk! 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!" However, it's just as likely to be subverted when the subject either doesn't recognize him or is simply unimpressed.
    "You rebuilt the walls of Prague? What, the ones that took Gladstone ten seconds to break through? Sure you didn't work on Jericho too?"
    • Used to taunt Nouda during the climax of Ptolemy's Gate. Except it was Nathaniel's, but Bartimaeus was the one who said it for him.
  • Badass Bookworm: Strictly speaking, every magician counts, but Mr. Button takes the cake: A dowdy old fool interested in "knowledge for knowledge's sake," he is nonetheless capable of summoning up a marid singlehandedly, a feat which Bartimaeus claims normally requires at least two magicians working in tandem.
  • Badass Longcoat: Unsuccessfully invoked by Nathaniel. He marks his rise in society by buying a long black coat that billows dramatically behind him when he walks, hoping for exactly this effect. It doesn't work.
  • Beautiful All Along: Kitty, when Nathaniel first sees her aura. She sarcastically retorts, "Only just now?"
  • "Begone" Bribe: The Ring of Solomon features an example of this used to try to fend off a stronger nation. Solomon is the powerful ruler of Jerusalem thanks to his magic ring and many other nations are in thrall to Jerusalem. Unbeknownst to Solomon, however, some members of his council of advisers, particularly Khaba the Cruel, have been threatening other nations in his name, promising to bring down the power of the ring upon them if they don't offer vast monthly tributes.
  • Big Ball of Violence: A trademark of Faquarl's, and a rare case where it's played lethally serious. Once he gets to work, all you see are the blades and body parts flying out. Done to great effect to the troop of djinn set to capture his host Hopkins in the last book.
  • Big Good: Solomon in the prequel. He was being duped by the other magicians, most especially the real villain, Khaba, and is generally a pretty enlightened leader for his time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most of the government has been killed off, much of the city is in ruins, Nathaniel is dead and Kitty will probably suffer from bad health for the rest of her life. Also, with the crushing of their revolution, the spirits will get to go right back to be enslaved. On the other hand, Nouda is dead, the world is safe from an apocalyptic invasion of spirits, and things are looking up for a more equal society. Also, Bartimaeus and Kitty are alive, and Nathaniel died doing the same thing Ptolemy did - saving Bartimaeus' life. Which probably earned him some points in Bartimaeus' book.
  • Big Bad: One for each book, but it's ultimately revealed that Quentin Makepeace tops them all.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: Commoners are frequently needed for messy or difficult jobs like tutoring apprentices and manufacturing spellbooks.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The vigilance spheres used throughout the series.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The commoners in the Resistance aren't immune to pettiness, greed, cowardice, and prejudice.
    • Particularly so in the third book when the protagonists save the human race from genocide and allow for the formation of a more egalitarian government... at the cost of ensuring djinni enslavement will continue forever.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Ostensibly the kind of moral which Pennyfeather follows and tries to instigate into the Resistance. At the end, it is shown to be an excuse for a man who is as power hungry and underhanded as the magician themselves.
  • Blatant Lies: When Ptolemy first summons Bartimaeus, Bartimaeus greets him with the following - "I know the secrets of the earth and the mysteries of the air; I know the key to the minds of women." In his footnote, he comments "Patently all lies. Especially the last bit."
  • Blessed with Suck: Solomon's ring is an item of unparalleled magical power, one that gives him undisputed rule of any kingdom he set his eyes on, allows him to summon 20,000 demons with a single twist, and is basically the reason for his entire success. It also causes him incredible pain to wear it, and saps his life force with every use. He can only take it off while he sleeps, because if he is ever seen without it, his circle of magicians will slay him and take the ring for themselves in a second. On top of this, due to the many miracles he worked with the ring in his youth, the populace expects him to use the ring to solve every little problem. As a result Solomon must continue to shorten his life to appease the people, and spend what little of it he has left in unbearable agony.
  • Bling of War: The Prague Guard are noted for their flashy, fancy uniforms. Bartimaeus notes that there seems to be an inverse correlation between impressiveness of uniforms and impressiveness of performance, specifically contrasting the largely ineffectual Prague Guard with the British Empire's far more understated and capable Night Police.
  • Book Burning: In The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus destroys a set of of cuneiform tablets owned by his evil master, Khaba, in a fit of rage over the fact that another Khaba's servants is about to seal him in a bottle. He then mentions in a footnote that he normally doesn't approve of burning books, "this being a favored pastime of all the worst rulers in history," but the texts of magicians are a special case because they contain the names of spirits by the thousand and thus to destroy them is to limit the opportunities of all magicians to summon other spirits.
  • Book Ends: Bartimaeus uses the same "special effects" for Nathaniel's first and last summonses.
  • Bread and Circuses: The government generally makes sure at least the basic needs of the citizens are taken care of and also provides regular entertainments and holidays, very flashy and showy, anything to keep people's senses stimulated and their brains disconnected.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Bartimaeus loves this trope. An example from The Ring of Solomon:
    Bartimaeus: Other forbidden activities in [Solomon's] palace included: fighting, devouring servants, running in the corridors, cursing, drawing rude stick figures on the harem walls, causing unpleasant smells to permeate the kitchens, and spitting on the upholstery. At least these were the ones I'd got told off for; there were probably others.
  • Break the Cutie: Kitty's flashback.
  • Break the Haughty: Nathaniel, particularly in the third book.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Bartimaeus sometimes addresses the readers directly in his footnotes.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early in the first book, Bartimaeus explains that the footnotes are due to the fact that he has multiple layers of conscious thought - he can go off on tangents while still thinking about the original subject. Late in the third book, when he and Nathaniel combine, he tries to do the footnotes again, but Nathaniel stops him because it feels really, really weird.
    • It's pointed out by Kitty that Hopkins is rather hard to remember. When Bartimaeus has to report what he looks like to Nathaniel, he realizes it's kind of tough and gives a somewhat useless description.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Mr. Button is implied to be an incredibly powerful magician, who could easily stand up to some of the magicians on the council, but he is not interested in power; rather he is interested in knowledge. As such he remains a very low level magician. Of course, there's also the question of whether being interested in knowledge for it's own sake actually qualifies as lazy.
  • The Brute: Jabor all the way. It destroys him in the end, when he simply doesn't have the mental faculties to change to something Ramuthra's Rift wouldn't suck in.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Nathaniel doesn't forget his dangerous encounter in the alley with Kitty Jones and the Stanley and Fred of the Resistance in The Amulet of Samarkand and expects Kitty to remember it too in The Golem's Eye when he brings it up to her. Kitty, however, notes that she's had many encounters in alleys and only with some prompting finally faintly remembers the event, only to disagree with Nathaniel's characterization that she had "left him for dead" — Fred and Stanley had wanted her to slit his throat, but she decided to spare him.
  • Butt-Dialing Mordor: In the first book, Nathaniel attempts to spy on his master using a scrying-glass, without the master ever finding out about it. He ends up having the psychic equivalent of a Skype call with him! Thankfully his master gets distracted and the imminent Poke in the Third Eye never happens.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Several in the prequel, most notably Khaba and his shadow, a marid, being his equal and in love.
    • There's a pretty grim one in the third book. At one point, Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus again, who appears with a lion's head, sans mane. He explains that manes both get clogged with blood and dirt, and they block all peripheral vision. In the final Ptolemy flashback, it's revealed that Bartimaeus, attempting to spirit Ptolemy to safety, was brought down by a Detonation that he didn't see — the guise he was in had a mane, which blocked his vision.
  • Cassandra Truth: Multiple ones, both heroic and villainous. For instance, Nathaniel's theories are never believed until it's almost too late. Also, both Faquarl when he says it's possible for the spirits to start a revolution and get their revenge on their masters and Ptolemy when he says that an understanding between humans and spirits is possible.
  • Cast from Lifespan:
    • Anyone who casts the Ptolemy's Gate spell will find that their body has aged decades when they return to it.
    • In The Ring of Solomon the titular Ring of Solomon is essentially this. Touching the ring brings forth a multitude of spirits, while twisting it upon the finger calls a spirit of unparalleled power. However, even just wearing the ring causes the owner immense pain and every use ages the wearer a little, sapping their life energies.
    • Creating a Golem requires the creator to sacrifice a huge quantity of life force. A skilled creator is nearly dead after making only two, and that life isn't coming back.
  • Cats Are Magic: Cats are the only animals naturally able to see more than one plane.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first book is noticeably lighter, shorter and has a kinder Nathaniel. That changes fast.
  • Chained Heat: Nathaniel and Bartimaeus in book three, while Bartimaeus is possessing and mind-linked with Nathaniel.
  • Character Development: Done very well for all three main characters.
  • Chef of Iron: Faquarl's preferred form is a jovial chef - Bartimaeus notes that he's been hanging around in kitchens for a few thousand years. This also makes him an Evil Chef.
  • Chekhov's Armoury:
    • In The Amulet of Samarkand, Bartimaeus mentions seeing a golem's eye among Lovelace's possessions, commenting that he probably didn't know what it was when he bought it. When Lovelace is killed, the eye is stolen by Duvall.
    • In the same book, along with the golem's eye, Bartimaeus also sees a summoning horn in Lovelace's possessions. The summoning horn turns out to be a crucial part of Lovelace's plan to summon an Eldritch Abomination to wipe out the leaders of the government.
    • In The Golem's Eye, Jakob makes an offhand remark to Kitty that since his family runs a printing press, they can doctor any books Tallow sends to them as revenge for assaulting Jakob. Later, when the various magicians perform a mass summoning to quell Honorius, Tallow attempts to summon an afrit. His book contained an error Jakob's family put in, and the afrit devours him whole. It is suggested that this meddling could also be responsible for the yellow color of Tallow's skin, for which he is often ridiculed.
    • In Ptolemy's Gate, the Amulet of Samarkand, Gladstone's staff, and the mercenary's Seven League Boots all play an important part in the heroes efforts to combat the Demon Rebellion.
    • First played straight and later subverted by the serpent statue in the prequel. Bartimaeus uses it to get rid of his master near the beginning of the book after being told about its powers by the spirit that had been guarding it. At the end, Solomon tries to use it on Khaba, but only succeeds in activating its anti-theft mechanisms on himself.
  • The Chessmaster: The magicians all attempt to be this, with reasonable amounts of success; Makepeace did a terrifyingly good job of it.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Used by Ammet the marid to Bartimaeus in The Ring of Solomon. Also used by Honorius on Kitty in The Golems Eye when they loot Gladstones tomb.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • In The Amulet of Samarkand, when Underwood takes Nathaniel (newly christened "John Mandrake") for the Prime Minister's address at Parliament, he tries to impress upon him the importance of not embarrassing him in public. He tells him the tale of the apprentice of Benjamin Disraeli who tripped on the steps of Westminster, falling against Disraeli, who tumbled and had his fall broken by the "well-padded" Duchess of Argyle. Disraeli then clapped his hands, causing darkness to fall and turning his apprentice into an iron statue holding a boot scraper, which anyone visiting for the past 150 years has been able to use. Nathaniel's reaction?
    Nathaniel: Really sir? Will I see it?
    • It helps that Underwood is not powerful enough to do such a trick and Nathaniel knows it too well.
    • The Golem's Eye has this exchange after Nathaniel/John Mandrake has summoned Bartimaeus, though it is less comic than revealing of how obsessed is Mandrake with his affairs:
    Bartimaeus: Two measly human years to get over the trauma of meeting you. Sure, I knew some idiot with a pointy hat would one day call me up again, but I hardly thought it would be the same idiot as last time!
    Nathaniel: I don't have a pointy hat!
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Andrew Donkin wrote a graphic novel based on The Amulet of Samarkand.
  • Compensating for Something: Kitty accuses Bartimaeus of this in Ptolemy's Gate when he appears in the form of a hideous, roaring demon.
  • Continuity Drift: In the first book the mercenary clearly cannot see on all seven planes, since he is fooled by a disguise of Bartimaeus which only shows his true form on the seventh plane. However in the later books it's a major part of his powers. In addition in the second book Honorious is definitely hurt by iron and silver, yet in the third book all the hybrids are (mostly) unaffected by iron and silver. The first one has an Author's Saving Throw, in that Jonathan Stroud has stated that the mercenary might have learned some of his later skills. The second one is possibly justified in that Honorious is possessing a skeleton rather than a living body.
  • Corporal Punishment: Simon Lovelace uses magic to inflict this on Nathaniel.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Done by Bartimaeus in The Golem's Eye
    Bartimaeus: "Ahem." The serpent of silver plumes gave a light cough. "A-hem." Still no response. How impolite was this? You call someone up, then take them for granted. I coughed a little louder. "A-thaniel." That got a response.
  • Crapsack World: Magicians are in charge of running the world, and their power has corrupted them into being arrogant, petty, foolish, cowardly and condescending towards their djinn and normal humans. Even the protagonist Nathaniel Drake can't avoid treating people around him like tools. There's maybe a sign that things will get better at the end, though the magicians have brought on a ton of destruction through their own doing and many of them have been killed for it.
  • Creepy Crows: A form Jakob's grandmother said that demons take. She's right: Bartimaeus and other spirits, such as the imps guarding the Tower of London, repeatedly take the form of a crow.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Tybalt in the prequel. He normally takes the form of a harmless white mouse, but is implied to be a very powerful spirit. (Although we never get to see exactly how powerful. We don't even know what class of spirit he is, although he's implied to be a Marid at least.)
  • Crystal Ball: One method of scrying; bowls and discs are also common.
  • Cunning Linguist: Magicians' spellbooks are often written in dead languages, partially for tradition's sake and partially to keep commoners from learning about magic. Nathaniel is shown to have knowledge of Latin, Ancient Greek, and Coptic, among others.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Faquarl vs. four djinn sent to capture him. (More precisely, they were sent to capture the person whose body he was residing in, and so they didn't really see that coming.)
    • Honorius vs. The Resistance.
  • The Dark Side: The change from Nathaniel to John Mandrake in the second and third books.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: The third book shows this, to some extent.
  • Deadly Force Field: Bartimaeus gets trapped in a Containment Field that slowly shrinks, forcing him to shapeshift into smaller and smaller forms. (He escapes.)
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bartimaeus can outsnark a British teenager, and can do it in six languages. Kitty also has her moments.
  • Death by Ambulance: Downplayed, played for laughs, and justified. When Bartimaeus was working for a military during a war in the early 1900s, he was tasked with infiltrating an enemy base. He took the form of an enemy medic and stole an ambulance. Because he's a demon (and therefore incompatible with technology) he accidentally ran over several people on the way there. Luckily, this meant that the soldiers at their HQ were so busy tending to his casualties they didn't notice him sneaking inside.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Simpkin the foliot is a minor character in the first book, but has a point of view chapter (the only character outside of the main three to get one in the entire series) early in the second. He dies at the end of it.
  • Dem Bones: Honorius, the mad afrit, was charged to guard Gladstone's tomb and did so by encasing himself in Gladstone's skeleton.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • Honorius in the second book possesses the bones of Gladstone; in addition, hundreds of demons possess the British parliament in Nouda and Faquarl's rebellion.
    • In order to stop them Nathaniel and Bartimaeus do the same thing except that they are in an equal partnership with neither trying to dominate the other. This has the added bonus that the process can be reversed, with Bartimaeus able to return to the Other Place, unlike the other demons who are trapped in their new bodies.
  • Description Cut: In Ptolemy's Gate, Bartimaeus reminisces about his meeting with Kitty Jones in the previous installment. He expresses some fondness for her, even though she had no love for djinn.
    "Whatever she was doing, I hoped she was keeping out of trouble." ... Chapter 4: Kitty - The demon saw Kitty the moment she moved. A wide mouth opened in the featureless head; double rows of teeth descended from above and rose from the lining of the jaw...
  • Deus ex Machina: This happens almost constantly in The Amulet of Samarkand, where something coincidentally happens to save the titular character when he gets into a seemingly inescapable situation (managing to escape from captivity when a little girl crashes her bike into the bushes where he's being interrogated in).
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Bartimaeus gives bigger, more powerful spirits lip too often for his own good.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Since he's big on self-preservation, this happens a lot less, but still occurs, especially in Book 3.
  • Disney Villain Death: Duvall. After he is arrested, he tries to escape by turning into a werewolf and killing his guards, then jumping out the window. Unfortunately for him, they were five floors up.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • When Kitty and Jacob accidentally cause him to crash his expensive car while playing baseball, Tallow summons his djinni, who casts a spell to disfigure the two kids for the rest of their lives. Even the enslaved spirit doing the actual magic asks him if he's sure. Jacob's family returns this to Tallow in kind by sabotaging his spellbook, causing him to botch a summoning and suffer a terrifying death by afrit.
    • Bartimaeus also takes one on Faquarl in ancient Egypt making him lose the entire royal treasure, which earns him the pharaoh's wrath, only for a building accident which he thinks it was Faquarl's fault. What is worse, considering Faquarl's tame personality and his ideals towards fellow slaves, it could have been really an accident.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: A tactic employed by demons on occasion. Bartimaeus considers trying it on Nathaniel early on in book 1, up until he learns Nathaniel's true name.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Quentin Makepeace, who resembles a foppish playwright in the prime minister's company, is the mastermind behind the conspiracies of all three books.
  • Door Dumb: In Ptolemy's Gate, when Nathaniel is trying to get into a room full of the government's most precious magical treasures, he turns a door handle and pulls, only to find it apparently locked. He immediately starts panicking about various magical safeguards he might have to overcome, only to then have a thought. He pushes on the door handle and this time it opens.
  • Double Entendre: In this scene.
    Nathaniel: I tried last night and you were gone. Who was it? Which magician were you seeing?
    Bartimaeus: Don’t get so worked up. It was a brief encounter. Nothing serious. It’s over.
    Nathaniel: Nothing serious? Think I’m going to believe that?
    Bartimaeus: Calm down, Mr. Jealous. You’re making a scene.
    Nathaniel: Who was it? Man or woman?
    Bartimaeus: Look, I know what you’re thinking, and I didn’t.
  • The Dragon:
    • Faquarl and Jabor serve this role to Simon Lovelace in the first book.
    • Faquarl in the third book serves as this to Makepeace (in his disguise as Hopkins) and later, Nouda. Of course, he's actually weaker than Nouda, since Nouda is a force of nature.
    • Khaba from Solomon's Ring has his own dragon. His shadow is a marid, Ammet, who is as close-bonded to him as Bartimaeus became to Ptolemy.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Faquarl. He engineers, by out-Chessmaster-ing Makepeace, a chance for spirits to rebel against and take revenge on humanity.
  • Dramatic Irony: In Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus is horrified and disgusted at the idea of the marid loving his master. He just can't fathom such a thing, and considers it a crime worse than willingly harming other spirits for fun. How any of them can love any human master...! Of course, he hasn't met Ptolemy yet. Meeting Ptolemy might explain why his reaction to Simpkins in the first book is more pitying than revolted.
  • Dumb Muscle:
    • Jabor has the personality down pat. We are never actually shown that he's dumb, and it's possible he just can't think straight when angry, but since he's always angry... It's mentioned in Bartimaeus' footnotes that Jabor is the type to "steadily paint himself into a corner" or "happily saw off the branch he's sitting on".
    • Most afrits and some marids are described as being this, although it could be again Bartimaeus's particular point of view.
    • The commonality of the trope with the stronger spirits, and the lack of it in Bartimaeus, could be easily explained by their relative power. Jabor and other spirits of great power are able to easily solve problems by simply smashing them, or the magical equivalent, simply never actually having to outthink an opponent or find an alternate means of executing an order than by the simplest path, whereas weaker spirits such as Bartimaeus have to outsmart the multitude of stronger foes they face and formulate cunning plans to avoid traps and defences that stronger spirits could just walk through, being more cunning by necessity. Faquarl is the only that is shown to have cultivate both his mind and his strength even when he has enough of both to not need the other.
  • Dystopia: Magician-ruled England, and many other sorcerous empires.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness
    • Some of the early Nathaniel chapters in Amulet include lines and scenes from Mr. Underwood's point of view, probably to give backstory that Nathaniel would not be privy to. After Underwood's death midway through the book all chapters (or sections of chapters, in the climaxes of Amulet and Gate) are told exclusively from the point of view of their title characters (except arguably one brief line before a scene change in one of Kitty's chapters in Gate).
    • In Amulet Underwood owns a computer and Lovelace is seen using a laptop. No one else in the other two books uses any technology more advanced than a telephone, unless you count the fact that some characters drive cars. Other means of communication include regular post and messenger Imp.
  • Eat the Summoner: Demons will attempt to eat their summoners if they fail to draw a proper pentagram or stray outside it. Bartimaeus himself alludes to having eaten a few wizards who made silly mistakes in the past. In book two, a wizard is eaten by a demon because he copied the summoning circle from a book whose printer had deliberately drawn it wrong in revenge for the wizard assaulting and crippling his son years earlier in the prologue.
    • Also, summoning horns are rare because the first user needs to be devoured by whatever they summon for it to work.
  • Eldritch Abomination
    • Most spirits appear at least as minor-league Eldritch Abominations (about the level of Shoggoths) on the higher planes. In revealing his true form for a fraction of a second, Faquarl caused some nearby ravens to simply drop dead and others to toss their cookies.
    • The most powerful spirits, however, are bona fide Eldritch Abominations, on the level of Outer Gods. They don't usually bother with tentacles, fangs, and other such flash. They simply appear as disturbances on all seven planes, which the human (and even djinni) eye only perceives as utter blackness or shadow. When they do take on physical form, however, they often give The Thing a real run for its money, with spikes, eyes, tentacles, etc., as far as the eye can see. Bartimaeus sums it up rather pithily:
      Bartimaeus: I didn't hang around long enough to get a good look at it, but its size and scale, not to mention all those gooey jellyfish bits swirling about the place, told me it was something from the very depths of the Other Place. Entities like that are rarely house-trained, and almost always have bad attitudes.
  • Eldritch Location: The "Other Place", where all imps, foliots, djinn, afrits, and marids "live". It is possible for a human to visit, but is strongly recommended against, as it wreaks havoc on both body (staying in the Other Place too long forces the person to forget how to move their physical body) and mind (it's quite the Acid-Trip Dimension, and the person will be trapped forever, absorbed by some spirit's essence if he or she does not have a trustworthy spirit to call upon and serve as a guide). It's strongly implied to be a Genius Loci, which the spirits are initially part of.
  • Elite Mook: Most of the higher-power spirits are essentially used in this way. Jabor takes the cake, however; he has the "mook" thing completely down pat, and he's one of the most powerful djinn around. At least, until Ramuthra's rift tears him apart.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Subverted in the second book; Nathaniel fails to activate Gladstone's Staff and instead gets knocked out by it. Not so in the third book, where he gets the Seven League Boots from the mercenary, retrieves Gladstone's Staff and is then possessed by Bartimaeus, which enhances his magical aptitude and physical ability enough so that he can go skipping across London, destroying human/spirit hybrids at every turn with the same staff he couldn't use earlier.
  • Enemy Mine: Bartimaeus and Faquarl in the prequel, due to sharing the same master (and equally loathing said master).
  • Enigmatic Minion: Bartimaeus, from Kitty's point of view.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Faquarl is this to Bartimaeus. Both are djinn of considerable power and cunning and resent the spirits' slavery by magicians. However, while Faquarl sets off a violent spirit rebellion against humanity, Bartimaeus, through interactions with people such as Ptolemy, Kitty, and Nathaniel, starts to believe that both people and spirits can change for the better and ends up saving humanity.
    • Simon Lovelace is what Nathaniel could have become if he allowed his ambition to consume him. In the later books, Nathaniel at the lower points of his Character Development starts to resemble Simon Lovelace, which Bartimaeus points out.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: The message that magicians attempt to instill in their apprentices, reminding them that if they make the slightest mistake the demon will be free to destroy them. In Ptolemy's Gate Makepeace and his conspirators believe they can control demons massively more powerful than themselves through willpower, and are taken over. Makepeace himself is particularly notable for summoning into his own body Nouda, a creature that would usually require several magicians to summon and partially control under normal circumstances.
  • Exact Words:
    • Bartimaeus allows Kitty to escape anywhere but in Nathaniel's limo, because his orders were "Stop them from escaping in that car!" This is actually a recurring theme in the series, as demons are required to carry out the orders that their masters give them, but they can interpret those words with some liberty, making exact words important for loopholes.
    • Another great example in Solomon's Ring: At the end, Bartimaeus is ordered to drop the Ring in the ocean. When he returns (after a chase and battle), he reveals that he still has the Ring. How? Asmira didn't say he had to leave it in the ocean.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Nathaniel's haircut between books two and three underscores the changes in his personality.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Not counting flashbacks to the past, the beginning of Ptolemy's Gate is said to take place just a few days before the premiere of the great Quentin Makepeace's premiere of the play From Wapping to Westminster. The play itself is when the big climax of the book goes down and everything wraps up the next day.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Going into government leads to this, invariably.
  • Failure Knight: We learn in book three that Bartimaeus feels this way about Ptolemy.
  • Fair-Weather Mentor: All of Nathaniel's masters are willing to sacrifice him to save their own reputations. Magician politics being what they are, we can safely assume this is standard procedure.
  • Fake Crossover: One panel in the graphic novel shows a fat bald man opening a shop called "F.Elliot Family Butchers".
  • Faking the Dead: Kitty at the end of Book 2.
  • Fantastic Racism: A three way version between magicians, spirits, and commoners.
  • Femme Fatale: Jane Farrar, though she's not as good as she likes to think.
  • First-Person Smartass: Bartimaeus in the chapters he narrates, and even more so in the footnotes.
  • Footnote Fever: Bartimaeus's sections are littered with it.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In his various asides in the original trilogy regarding his association with Solomon, Bartimaeus mentions at one point in The Golem's Eye that one of his masters once charged him to pinch Solomon's magic ring and chuck into the sea. Thus, in the prequel book The Ring of Solomon, it's fait accompli once Asmira becomes his master that she will at some point order him to do this.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first book, Bartimaeus hears what appears to be a large dog pursuing the Resistance. It's not until the second book where we find out that police officers in this universe are also werewolves.
    • The second book gives several clues that the Big Bad is Makepeace. The most prominent of which is when he meets Kitty in a theater and his voice changes in pitch. The connection to the theater makes Makepeace an immediate suspect.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: British police werewolves seem to avoid most of Clothing Damage by shedding off-screen their clothes fully upon transforming in wolves. The only post-transformation fault in their uniforms that gets mentioned in the narrative is in their pants (which is also rather weird, as they should simply slide off a wolf's slender hind legs without more damage - their clothing should be more damaged in their upper body section).
  • Functional Magic: The advantage which magicians have held over commoners through most of history.
    • Theurgy, with elements of Rule Magic.
    • Geometric Magic: Various forms of summoning circle exist, all fairly complex. They must be exact: a defective circle either doesn't work, or conjures an uncontrolled (and almost always hostile) spirit.
    • Summon Magic: The only supernatural power that seems intrinsic to Earth is the ability to summon things from the Other Place.
  • Genie in a Bottle: Used in several ways. The Indefinite Confinement spell is a punishment for disobedient spirits, and traps them eternally in whatever object the magician selects. It is apparently possible to trap some kinds of spirit inside non-magical containers if they enter of their own free will. But that trick is so ancient that only a completely inexperienced spirit would fall for it anymore.
  • Glamour Failure: A Glamour is one of many tricks that can be used by magicians. Get snared by a Glamour and you'll be sitting slack-jawed staring at something you believe to be a delicious feast as the magician closes in you and takes you as a helpless captive. And if you so much as touch any of the supposed feast, then you're done. However, a spirit of decent quality can resist the effects of a Glamour and can direct the magician controlling them on how to shake off its effects as well.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Magicians have glasses (though contact lenses are far more popular) that allow them to see past the guises of weaker spirits by enabling them to view up to the third plane.
  • Golem: A rare example of one that isn't just a throwaway Mook but an all-but unstoppable juggernaut, equally effective against human and spirit opponents.
  • Good All Along: Nathaniel. King Solomon in the prequel; it's the magicians in his employ that are attacking and plundering the neighboring kingdoms, virtually under his nose, and he is not happy to learn of it.
  • Government Conspiracy
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The less morally questionable governmental bickering.
  • Guile Hero: Bartimaeus, being somewhat Weak, but Skilled in comparison to most other demons he ends up fighting.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The demon/human hybrids in the third book; Nouda becomes more demon than human rather quickly, though.
  • Hand of Glory: Harlequin carries one such "distinctive candle" which is not explicitly said to be a hand, but the narrative makes it obvious. When Harlequin uses it to cast a spell to stun anything in the graveyard where they are meeting, Nathaniel protests that he recognises the spell as the Illuminated Circlet and that it does not require a hand of a corpse to cast. Harlequin insists that things like "blood, ritual, sacrifice, death" are at the heart of their magic and are not to be ignored.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Simpkin, a minor demon character, is happy to be a servant. Also a major theme in The Ring of Solomon, with both the human protagonist and The Dragon. Bartimaeus finds the idea of willing servitude an abomination until he meets Ptolemy.
  • Hero Antagonist: Kitty for a good portion of the second book.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Nathaniel and Ptolemy. Subverted with Bartimaeus's master during the siege of Prague. He accidentally blew himself up trying to save the Emperor, and Bartimaeus calls this his finest moment since it freed Bartimaeus and thus saved his life.
    • Also, Bartimaeus. He doesn't die, but helping Nathaniel wipe out all the rampaging demons just ensures that he and the rest of his kin remain enslaved by the magicians. All for the sake of saving two humans he doesn't hate completely, who will be dead in a blink of his eyes owing to the screwy passage of time in the Other Place. The only real perk is that everyone thinks he died with Nathaniel so he'll get to relax for a few centuries before another scrawny dude in robes and a pointy hat summons him again through a different name.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Nathaniel and the junior magicians at the end of the third book.
  • Heel Realization:
    • Kitty in book two when she realizes that her calling an attack on Nathaniel in book one leads to him tracking her down several years later, and that the Resistance has become as bad as the wizards if they're attacking children.
    • Nathaniel in the third book, when he realizes how corrupt and repressive the government he works for is.
  • Hey, You!: Prior to getting to choose the name of John Mandrake, Nathaniel is addressed by Arthur Underwood as simply "boy."
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Needless to say, the real William Gladstone didn't have uber-powerful magic artifacts.
  • Historical In-Joke: Bartimaeus's anecdotes about his past masters. Quite a few about Britain as well, such as Gladstone's famous magicians' duel with Disraeli.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade / Historical Villain Upgrade: This is done by the British empire in-universe. Bartimaeus indicates that this behavior is very typical of magical empires.
    • From the prologue of The Golem's Eye we learn that the previous Czech emperor was absolutely obsessed with his pet birds and was genuinely fond of them as a pet owner would be. The British empire teaches Kitty and her ilk that he shot a bird each night for dinner. They also grossly exaggerate his weight.
    • The children are also taught that Gladstone was a kind man, when we know from the books that he was a typical power hungry magician and probably took the Muggle government by force. If anything, he is shown to be perhaps more stern and intellectual than their decadent successors.
  • Historical Ugliness Update: In-universe. As part of their smear campaign against the Czechs they defeated, the official histories of the British government claim that their last emperor was so grossly obese that he couldn't walk and had to be moved around in a special wheelchair. We see from Bartimaeus (who was there when Prague fell) that while the real emperor was a fat man, he wasn't anywhere near that grotesquely bloated and had no trouble moving under his own power.
  • History Repeats: As the series goes on, it becomes clear that this is what tends to happen with the empires formed by magicians. As time goes on, more and more commoners are born with Anti-Magic abilities, which allows them to rebel against the abuses of power by magicians, weakening the empire from within and allowing foreign powers to swoop in, and the magicians tendency for Written by the Winners means that they never see it coming. In the end, Farquad's rebellion and Nathaniel and Bartimaeus's actions to stop it may very well have led to the cycle being broken, and things changing for the better.
  • Hive Mind: All spirits in The Other Place lose a great deal of their individual identity, merging their essence and memories. In fact it is only by being summoned in the first place that they develop and individual identity and distinct point of view.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Simon Lovelace is devoured by the very being he summoned to destroy all his opposition in the government.
    • The reason why I Know Your True Name is such a danger for magicians: If a spirit knows a magician's birth name, he can use it to reverse most punishment spells back at the magician.
  • Hollywood Law: Played to a spectacular degree, though only in order to show how ridiculously corrupt and prejudiced the British law in this universe can be. A 13 year old Kitty is summoned to a court case by herself, leaving out any input from her parents and/or legal guardians, and she is expected to face the court alone without any kind of legal defense or assistance from lawyers (which in this universe seem to be non-existent, as the other party doesn't get them either). Psychological and/or medical presence is also missing, despite it being a case where one of the parties was hospitalized in a very traumatic event and should have not one, but two medical reports, and there is no physical evidence regarded either even although we know it exists. However, none of this is remotely important, because the verdict from the judge amounts to a barrage of partialities, legal disfigurations and highschool debate club-level fallacies, including a blatant threat of pressing charges emitted shockingly by the judge herself (in real life, judges cannot do that, and much less restricting an allegation). Finally, as if there were more need to show it, it is also made clear that the jury openly favors magicians in any case and does not see anything wrong with it, which renders the entire thing meaningless.
  • House Fey: Imps are low level demons, mainly used for housework and delivering messages.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Bartimaeus certainly thinks so, while Nathaniel thinks djinn are Always Chaotic Evil. The ultimate conclusion seems to be that neither species is inherently better or worse.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Bartimaeus' chapters are written from an alien perspective. He hates magicians - greedy torturers and slavers from his point of view. He's not fond of ordinary people either - he regards them as fragile, self-absorbed, ugly, virtually blind and stringy - but he'll grudgingly admit that a few of them are not entirely contemptible.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Bartimaeus, at times. It's unclear how aware he is of his hypocrisy, though.
    Bartimaeus: Faquarl wasn't a sly old equivocator like Tchue; he prided himself on blunt speaking. Mind you, he did have a weakness for boasting. If you believed all his stories, you'd have thought him responsible for most of the world's major landmarks as well as being adviser and confidant to all the notable magicians. This, as I once remarked to Solomon, was quite a ridiculous claim.
    • From the nature of his interactions with Solomon in The Ring of Solomon it seems unlikely that they ever got around to discussing Faquarl, which also brings up the subject of Unreliable Narrator.
      • At one point Bartimaeus's section ends with this exchange:
      "But we haven't time..."
      I spoke gently to quieten him. "Just watch and listen."
      I didn't show it, but I was worried myself now. The boy was right: we really had no time. *Skip to Nathaniel's part*
      "But we haven't time-" Nathaniel began.
      "Just shut up and watch!" The fly was buzzing frantically around their prison. It sounded decidedly panicked.
      • It's left unclear as to which author, if any, is accurately portraying the scene.
    • From The Ring of Solomon:
    "But the rest were sorry wastes of essence, Beyzer being boastful, Tivoc sarcastic, and Xoxen full of false modesty, which in my humble opinion are three immensely tiresome traits."
    • The Amulet of Samarkand has a more straight example. Seeking a way to confine Bartimaeus, Nathaniel pulls out a tin labeled "Old Chokey," which Bartimaeus recognizes as being a tobacco tin, asking Nathaniel "Don't you know smoking kills?" Nathaniel replies that it no longer contains tobacco, but rather rosemary, a potent herb for repelling demons, and lifts the lid to give him a whiff of the scent.
    Bartimaeus: I'd turf that out and fill it up with some honest baccy. Far healthier.
    • After Nathaniel's naming, Underwood gives a big speech about how he's only moderately talented, and can only be suited for some low-ranking job with little possibility for advancement. It doesn't occur to him that he's pretty much describing himself.
  • I Can't Hear You: This is used to great comic effect by Bartimaeus towards the end of The Ring of Solomon. After winning against Ammet, he brings the ring back to Jerusalem and to Khaba the Cruel, at first faithfully imitating Ammet, who always took the form of a dark shadow imitation of Khaba's form. However, as time passes, he slowly allows the imitation to grow a long nose, warts and two jug-ears. Then, when's supposedly giving Khaba the ring, he instead makes it so that Khaba just misses, telling him "That was a big jump. If only you were a little taller." When the magician insists "Give it to me!" he claps his hand against one of the jug-ears, telling him that he's a bit deaf. When Khaba repeats "Give it to me!" he replies that "Nothing would give me greater pleasure," then punches him square on the chin, knocking him out and sending him sprawling.
  • I Know Your True Name: Magicians' birth names are closely guarded secrets as knowledge of them protects you from most of their magic, while demons can only be summoned using one of their (many) true names. Bartimaeus knows Nathaniel's true name, which means that Nathaniel continuing to summon Bartimaeus would ordinarily be considered recklessly dangerous. However, the two have reached an agreement. Ptolemy told Bartimaeus his true name the first time that he asked. He, however, was unique— he never employed any punishment spells against the spirits he summoned (thus no magic to turn against him) and gained their trust through politeness and dogged persistence.
  • Immortal Apathy: This is one of the reasons why genies typically don't get along with their mortal summoners. In particular Bartimaeus often mocks impressive architecture and other human accomplishments, as he's seen better.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: From The Golem's Eye:
    Kitty: You're all callous and wicked and heartless and vain!
    Nathaniel: Vain? How wonderfully hysterical. I'm just well turned out. Presentation's important, you know.
  • Idiot Ball: For all his intelligence, Bartimaeus gets this on occasion. For example, accidentally leading Lovelace to Underwood's house in the first book, and turning off the lights when faced with Faquarl in the third book (even though spirits can see perfectly well in the dark).
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Played with: True Neutral demon Bartimaeus persuades Kitty to save Nathaniel by telling her, "if you let him die, you'll be just like me."
  • I Have Many Names: Bartimaeus, a.k.a. Bartimaeus of Uruk, Sakhr al-Jinni, N'Gorso the mighty, the Serpent of Silver Plumes...
    • Most importantly, his Egyptian name, which is Rekhyt. It's an alias Ptolemy gives him so as not to divulge his true name to unfriendly ears. It means Lapwing, a symbol of slavery that Ptolemy uses strictly for irony.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Most demons, who show no qualms about devouring either humans or each other. Bartimaeus enjoys playing it for squick in the footnotes. In a case possibly due to their nature in the Other Place, in which they have no true individual identity, and in the other due to their hatred for humans over thousands of years of slavery.
  • Implacable Man:
    • The bearded mercenary.
    • Anyone with sufficiently strong resilience becomes this.
    • Subverted painfully when the Resistance attempts to rob Gladstone's tomb. Also, even someone as strong as the mercenary can be brought down with truly overwhelming application of magic.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Nathaniel's fashionable, very tight trousers in The Golem's Eye are mocked by Bartimaeus and Kitty.
  • Improbable Age: Nathaniel is on the fast track to being a government minister by the time he is fourteen. Granted, he was a prodigy with high-end magical knowledge early on (though little practice), and he narrowly saved the prime minister's life. But that still doesn't explain the fact that he is held single-handedly responsible for matters of national security.
  • Incoming Ham: Bartimaeus, like most spirits, enjoys making his initial materialization in the human world as flashy as possible. The first lines in the entire series are describing him doing an act that wouldn't be out of place in Religious Horror climaxes.
  • Informed Ability: Presumably one has to be a very powerful magician to become Prime Minister, but Rupert Deveraux is never seen doing any magic at all.
  • Innocent Innuendo: A conversation regarding a failed attempt to summon Bartimaeus, which under the circumstances could only mean some other magician had summoned him, reads a whole lot like an accusation of adultery:
    Nathaniel: I tried last night and you were gone. Who was it? Which magician were you seeing?
    Bartimaeus: Don’t get so worked up. It was a brief encounter. Nothing serious. It’s over.
    Nathaniel: Nothing serious? Think I’m going to believe that?
    Bartimaeus: Calm down, Mr. Jealous. You’re making a scene.
    Nathaniel: Who was it? Man or woman?
    Bartimaeus: Look, I know what you’re thinking, and I didn’t.
  • Insistent Terminology: Spirits really hate being called demons (or the equivalent in the local language). Additionally, in The Ring of Solomon, Asmira hates being referred to as either a "slave" or an "assassin," insisting that she's a "hereditary guard."
  • Inspector Javert: Nathaniel -> Kitty at some points.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus ends up taking Solomon's form and putting on the ring. He admits the disguise is not quite perfect and the ring is very painful, but he proudly states that "old king's mother wouldn't have known the difference." The entity inside the ring immediately states "You can stop putting on that silly accent,[...] I know your name and your true nature."
  • In Spite of a Nail: Although Gladstone was a magician who became Prime Minister by overthrowing the non-magical government of Britian and instituting a police state, he still had a famous rivalry with (his fellow magician) Disraeli; although Europe's major empire in the first half of the 19th century was Prague, London still has a Trafalgar Square containing Nelson's Column.
  • Interspecies Romance: Parodied and ridiculed, not that it stops the shippers. Also, while it may not qualify as romance per se, Succubi exist and are at times summoned. In The Ring of Solomon, the Big Bad and his shadow.
  • Invisibility: For some reason, an ability only imps (and Simpkin) are shown to have. Useful though, since as the lowest form of demon, imps also have the least shapeshifting ability, so they would otherwise be quite ineffective as messengers and spies.
  • Ironic Name: Quentin Makepeace doesn't exactly make peace.
  • Irony: In Ptolemy's Gate Bartimaeus' essence has been severely weakened by Nathaniel not releasing him periodically. He is so bitter about his weakness that he thinks that if Faquarl, his Arch-Enemy, were to come up with a boneheaded rebellion scheme he'd "have joined him with much high-fiving and inane whoops of joy." Later in the novel Faquarl initiates his spirit rebellion and Bartimaeus not only doesn't join, but teams up with Nathaniel to foil it and save London.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Oh so subverted. Played straight in the minor occurrence, also somewhat inverted in the major occurrence, based on the last sentence. Nathaniel, also, seems to have changed enough to feel it was an honor, though he refuses to admit it. He is, after all, very old-fashioned in some ways, and perhaps a tad tsundere.
  • Jackass Genie: Whenever it can get away with it, a genie will interpret an order this way. Sometimes they'll do so regardless.
    Bartimaeus: One magician I worked for once called for my aid during an earthquake which was toppling his tower. Unfortunately for him, the precise words he used were: ‘Preserve me!’ A cork, a great big bottle, a vat of pickling fluid, and – presto! – the job was done.
  • The Juggernaut: The golem in the second book, as well as The Mercenary due to his extraordinary resilience.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In The Golem's Eye, Internal Affairs under John Mandrake (Nathaniel) is given leave to investigate and put to stop both the golem affair and the Resistance, but the police chief Henry Duvall takes every opportunity he can to push for more power for his department and to try to make Internal Affairs look bad so that he can gain power over the cases. Oh, and Duvall is one of the masterminds of the golem plot.
  • Just a Kid: Particularly vile example. John Mandrake (Nathaniel) is just 14 years old and he's already Assistant to the Head of Internal Affairs. Many members of the other departments simultaneously overload him with assignments, and then hope he fails at them, just so they can "justify" claims that he's much too young for this sort of work. Of course, many magicians are power-crazed anyway, delighting in the failures of both their superiors (open position = more power!) and inferiors (less competition!) so maybe it's just unfortunate (see Klingon Promotion).
  • Kangaroo Court: In The Golem's Eye, we learn that when Kitty was 13, she and her friend Jakob were viciously attacked by a magician who set a demon to cast the Black Tumbler on them. Kitty, possessing Resilience, was only knocked out for a few hours, but Jakob was severely disfigured for life and temporarily blinded. Following the incident, Kitty was invited to bring her case to court. Even though all of her friends and family urged her to decline the invitation, knowing that it would be a kangaroo court and she would get nothing like justice, she accepted anyway. Things seemed to go well enough at first, with the magician not being present at the start of the hearing and being put down for contempt of court, while Kitty is allowed to tell her side. Sure enough, however, once the magician, Tallow, arrives, he tells his version of events which excoriates her and Jakob and presents himself as a saint. The judge is a fourth-level magician and Tallow's story is accepted without question. Kitty is made to pay a fine of 100 pounds for wasting the court's time, plus a further fine that is much more massive for Tallow's contempt of court in being late, as the loser pays all costs. This is the start of Kitty's days with La Résistance, as the leader of the Resistance group is present at the hearing and realizes based on Kitty's version of events that she possesses Resilience. He offers to pay her fee and has her join the group.
  • Keep Away: In The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus successfully retrieves the titular ring from Ammet, the powerful spirit of Khaba the Cruel. Afterwards, he returns to Jerusalem and takes the form of the shadow of Khaba that Ammet always assumed, pretending to be Ammet who has come to return the ring to Khaba. As he draws closer...
    The shadow made as if to drop the Ring into his palm, then – at the last moment – jerked it out of reach. Khaba swiped for the Ring and missed. He hopped and danced, squeaking with annoyance, but now the shadow raised the Ring high above his head, dangling it teasingly from side to side. "Nearly got it," the shadow said. "Oo, that was a big jump. If only you were a little taller." "What are you doing, slave?" Khaba roared. "Give me the Ring! Give it to me!" The shadow clapped a hand against one of its outsize ears. "Sorry, ugly. I’m a bit deaf. What did you say?" "Give it to me!" "Nothing would give me greater pleasure." At which the shadow drew back, swung a fist and punched the Egyptian square on the chin, sending him bodily off the floor, whistling backwards through the air, and down onto one of the golden tables, which shattered beneath his sprawling weight.
  • Kid with the Leash: Deconstructed/subverted: Nathaniel firmly believes that demons are Always Chaotic Evil, and that elaborate incantations and careful wording are necessary to keep enslaved summons in check. While this is not unjustified (Bartimaeus is very open about his willingness to free himself by killing Nathaniel and brags of magicians he has killed in the past), Bartimaeus - the demon - is often more moral than Nathaniel. He complains about being given less-than-ethical tasks, and there are hints throughout the series that both the djinni and the boy would be better off if Nathaniel had shown more trust in him. However, it is quite clear that even Nathaniel and Bartimaeus's strained relationship is unusual and that spirits will destroy their masters in painful ways given any opportunity.
    • Of course, even that idea is subverted - when Kitty calls up Bartimaeus with talk of friendship and mutual trust, he challenges her to step outside the bounds of the pentacle protecting her to demonstrate her trust, and when she doesn't, he remarks that it was "worth a try". Whether he would have killed her, simply left, or actually taken her up on her offer was left an open question due to the ambiguity of that statement. It's likely that he didn't know himself.
  • Kick the Dog: The magicians frequently do so.
  • Kitchen Chase: In book 1, when Bartimaeus tries to evade the Big Bad's guards by running through the kitchen, the "chef" turns out to be his old enemy, Faquarl.
  • Klingon Promotion: A few particularly ambitious magicians kill their mentors. Most magicians settle for completely ruining their rivals' (and, if possible, their superiors') reputations via blackmail. If the rival(s) happen to die in the process, well, that's just a bonus; they won't be coming back later for revenge.
  • Knight Templar: Nathaniel is a borderline case in the later books.
  • Large Ham:
  • La Résistance: The Resistance. Numerous references to others are mentioned in the third book.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Happens pretty frequently to the villains in the series; an example is Simon Lovelace, eaten by the very Eldritch Abomination he sicced on all his fellow magicians.
  • Layered World: 7 layers. Plus a theoretical eighth one that the Seven League Boots supposedly operate upon.
  • Lemony Narrator: Bartimaeus, in the chapters he narrates.
  • The Legions of Hell: Nouda and co. in Book 3.
  • List of Transgressions: In The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus's list of transgressions against Solomon's Jerusalem includes eating guests of Jerusalem, fighting, devouring servants, running in the corridors, cursing, drawing rude stick figures on the harem walls, causing unpleasant smells to permeate the kitchens, and spitting on the upholstery. He explains that these are the things that aren't allowed to be done in Jerusalem because he's been told off personally for doing them. There may be others.
  • Literal Genie: This trope is usually averted, but is played straight at times. Magicians are trained to word orders in a way that averts "misunderstandings," but most spirits obey the spirit of the order anyway to avoid punishment. Bartimaeus is considered "troublesome" by magicians because he plays the trope straight. In the third book, a rather large lampshade is hung on the fact that the spirits failed to exploit a loophole in an agreement.
  • Living Shadow: Khaba has one in the prequel, which is actually a marid.
  • Look Behind You: Bartimaeus once defeated a group of djinn using this trick. Additionally, in Ptolemy's Gate, when Nathaniel is facing off against the mercenary for the final time, he tells him that his doom approaches from behind and shouts for "Belazael" to attack. There is no Belazael, but the tactic does get the mercenary to look behind him, allowing Nathaniel an instant to make his move.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: The contrast between Bartimaeus's relationship with Nathaniel and his relationship with Ptolemy.
  • Mage Tower: In The Ring Of Solomon, Solomon gives each of his magicians their own tower in his palace.
  • The Magocracy: A very corrupted one, at that.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Quentin Makepeace.
  • Masquerade: While magic is no secret and "commoners" know that the government is run by magicians, they are kept from knowing how the magic works and the fact that the magicians' power comes from enslaved demons and without them they are just ordinary humans.
  • Meaningful Rename: while in the text Nathaniel gets the name John Mandrake midway through the first book, his chapters still use his original name, only to switch to using John Mandrake later on when he becomes more openly ambitious and ruthless.
  • Mistaken for Transformed: During a meeting on what to do about the Golem currently rampaging through London, Bartimaeus compliments what he thinks is a fellow demon shapeshifter into a footstool for his creativity in choosing a form. He is quickly informed that he is talking to an actual footstool, much to his surprise.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Solomon, to an extent.
  • Monumental Battle: A memorable scene in the British Museum, among others.
  • Monumental Damage: Especially when Bartimaeus uses the Rosetta Stone (which he lightly takes for a flagstone of indications for tourists) as a projectile.
  • More Hero than Thou
  • Muggles: All regular, non-magician human beings are called "Commoners", and looked down on by the magical elite.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: There are multiple narrators, one of which is first-person and the rest of which are third-person.
  • Mundane Utility: Bartimaeus in the beginning of Ptolemy's Gate. Also, djinn in general when magicians are lacking on servants or simply wish to punish them. Djinn are generally potent spirits, capable of being used to wage great campaigns of war. Yet it is not unusual for magicians to employ them to other tasks, such as preparing great quantities of food, cleaning, or posting up flyers about town.
  • Must Make Amends: Nathaniel when he gives Kitty the Amulet of Samarkand, despite the fact that he would make more use of it.
  • Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: The... Mercenary.
  • My Greatest Failure: Bartimaeus not being able to save Ptolemy, because the boy dismissed him at the cost of his own life. It's worth noting, though, that given the level of opposition they were up against, Bartimaeus really had no chance of saving him. Had Ptolemy not dismissed him, they would have died together.
  • Nasty Party
  • Never Found the Body: Kitty's body was never found in the aftermath of The Golem's Eye, because Kitty was getting it out of Britain ASAP.
  • Never My Fault: The magicians all try to push as much blame as they can onto someone else when things go wrong. Julius Tallow even combines this with Glad I Thought of It by "challenging" his assistant John Mandrake (Nathaniel) to deduce how the Piccadilly shops were destroyed, instead of, you know, examining the ruins and trying to find out for himself. He still rejects Mandrake's answer immediately and saddles him with more work, simply because he's Just a Kid and this just HAS to be the work of the Resistance, despite the attack sharing none of the signs at all.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • As Bartimaeus bluntly points out to Nathaniel, his desire for revenge led to him summoning a demon that learned his true name — said demon being Bartimaeus— and the Underwoods killed.
    • Kitty calling an attack on Nathaniel when he was trying to retrieve his disc from her Resistance friend disguised as a paperboy, shortly after the Underwoods' death, means that when he gets the better, he's very dedicated to hunting her down. Kitty herself has a Heel Realization that the Resistance became as bad as the wizards and at the end of book two vows to change that.
  • Noble Demon: Bartimaeus.
  • No Blood Ties: Enforced just for the magicians, who are not allowed any biological children, but are later given an orphan as an apprentice. This is to prevent instances of Feuding Families, which apparently happened frequently enough in the past to be quite a problem, though it is up to debate whether the new system is actually an improvement.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: What usually happens to Bartimaeus when he goes up against a demon out of his weight class, such as a marid, in a straight fight. An example is found at the beginning of The Golem's Eye, when he goes up against an afrit and is soundly thrashed for his trouble.
  • No Name Given: The scythe-friendly afrit at the beginning of the second book goes unnamed. He is implied to be either Honorius or Patterknife, Gladstone's Co-Dragons, but it is never revealed which, if any. (He could perfectly be Patterknife, if you catch the Meaningful Name connection, but it's just Epileptic Trees for now).
  • The Nondescript: Mr. Hopkins.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Bartimaeus, sort of.
  • Noodle Incident: The "case of the Afrit, the Envelope, and the Ambassador's Wife," the "affair of the Curiously Heavy Trunk," and the "messy episode of the Anarchist and the Oyster".
  • No Ontological Inertia:
    • Demons disappear back to the Other Place if the magician who summoned them dies.
    • Possibly averted, though, in that if a demon is putting on a guise on another plane, that guise may be maintained even if it dies. In The Amulet of Samarkand, Mr. Underwood shows Nathaniel a bottled imp that is putting on a rat guise on the first plane. When Nathaniel asks if it's dead, he says that he should think so, though that if not it'll be pretty angry, as it's been bottled for fifty years.
  • No-Sell: This is the basic nature of the primary form of the phenomenon known as "resilience," the ability to resist and survive attacks by spirits. The power varies from being able to withstand minor attacks to being able to shrug off very strong magic. Those with additional abilities can also do things such as negate the ability of spirits to hide themselves from human sight and sense things like magical objects.
  • Nothing Personal: Faquarl says to Bartimaeus fairly early on in The Amulet of Samarkand. Generally, with djinn, this is true, as they're only working on the orders of a human master, but somehow it always did seem to get rather personal between Faquarl and Bartimaeus, any claims of it not being so aside.
  • Not Quite Dead: Honorius, among others.
  • Not My Driver
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In the third book, by stealing magicians' bodies and setting off violent revolt against humanity, Faquarl, Nouda, and other spirits become the very thing they resented, which Bartimaeus doesn't hesitate to point out. Of course, one of the main themes of the trilogy is slavery and how it corrupts both the slavers and the enslaved. Best demonstrated in the following exchange:
    Faquarl: Vengeance is our master here. It keeps us here. It gives us purpose.
    Bartimaeus: 'Purpose' is a human concept. We never needed that before. This body of yours isn't a disguise anymore, is it? It isn't just a barrier against pain. It's what you are busily becoming.
  • Not Wearing Pants
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: All of the magicians, to a certain degree.
  • ...Or So I Heard: Bartimaeus sometimes likes to use this to explain his knowledge of subjects he considers himself too dignified to otherwise know about, such as the crude Egyptian game "Dogs and Jackals."
  • Our Demons Are Different: The terms "spirit", "demon", and "genie" are essentially interchangeable in meaning. The entities themselves, however, consider "demon" to be a highly offensive and pejorative term and prefer "exalted spirits".
  • Our Imps Are Different: Imps are the least powerful and easiest to summon of the five main classes of demons (mites are even weaker, but they're not worth summoning most of the time). Unlike more powerful demons, they cannot shapeshift.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They're police officers.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Nathaniel is asked to meet the British agent in Prague at a cemetery at midnight. Complaining about the melodrama, he insists that their next meeting be somewhere more ordinary and they agree to meet in the main square around six - "Harlequin" had wanted to pick the old plague pits. He does cope with the change well, and Nathaniel receives his information in a hot dog bun he bought from the disguised agent.
  • Paratext
    • Bartimaeus peppers the chapters he narrates with long, digressive, usually humorous footnotes. It is later mentioned that, as a djinni, he has the ability to carry on two or more trains of thought at once.
    • Bartimaeus, as part of his introduction, informs us as an aid to our comprehension of his cranial capacity that were the text in the book overlaid with the text of three more novels, he could observe the jumble of ink that we would see and discern the text of all four stories, and comprehend them perfectly, without any trouble whatsoever. They having a multiple-track mind, while humans have one conscious and one unconscious track.
      • Subverted hilariously in Ptolemy's Gate, when he is telling the reader something in a footnote, and Nathaniel, who is melded with Bart at the time, cuts him off in mid-footnote, saying outside of said footnote, "Will you stop doing that? It's distracting!"
  • Parental Abandonment: Happens to all magicians, at least those of this universe's London. Parents can choose to give up their children for the government to have them trained into magicians for a hefty sum in return.
  • Parental Substitute: Arthur Underwood's wife is the closest thing to one that Nathaniel has as a child.
  • Pass the Popcorn: In Golem's Eye Bartimaeus comments, "All I need is some popcorn," as he watches Nathaniel get himself in trouble. He also does this, possibly anachronistically if he hasn't yet been summoned in the Americas, in The Ring of Solomon as he watches the spirit army summoned by the ring descend on Jerusalem.
  • Pet the Dog: Nathaniel does so occasionally. Perhaps a much bigger example is Khaba - he treats most spirits absolutely abominably, but treats Ammet, his marid, with gentle loving care, and as a result has an utterly loyal henchman. When Bartimaeus tries to rabble-rouse Ammet against Khaba, it backfires on him horribly.
  • Police Brutality: The police werewolfves are apparently authorized to maim their preys.
  • Police State
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Subverted. Bartimaeus scoffs when Nathaniel tries to use the newly-retrieved Gladstone's staff to fight the golem, saying it's impossible for the boy to master such a powerful object on his first try. To his disbelief, Nathaniel seems to generate a powerful aura around the staff... which backfires, knocking Nathaniel unconscious.
  • Posthumous Character: Ptolemy.
  • Power Trio: At the end of the last book, Nathaniel, Bartimaeus and Kitty.
  • Power of Trust: Crucial in the third book. It's Kitty's trust in Bartimaeus that allows Bartimaeus to regain his faith in humans and save London from the spirit revolt.
  • Powers via Possession: Attempted by Makepeace. It doesn't work very well. Goes better with Bartimaeus and Nathaniel.
  • Propaganda Machine: Nathaniel serves as this role in the third book.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: Faquarl. He says quite explicitly that he has always enjoyed kitchens because of their multitude of sharp implements, and he never uses ranged attacks when his handy-dandy meat cleaver will do. Engaging Faquarl in melee is almost certain death, as an entire squad of djinn find out the hard way in the third book.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The demons summoned in the third book. Originally intended as a way for magicians to gain power by summoning a spirit into themselves, the spirits took over and then began forcing other magicians to summon spirits into themselves.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Bartimaeus is thousands of years old, but his preferred form looks about twelve.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Poor, poor Nathaniel.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Invoked quite deliberately by Bartimaeus in Ring of Solomon. The air around Solomon's tower is filled with floating magic booby traps, so he changes into a giant gecko, sticks out his tongue, and goes...

    Bartimaeus: Come and give us a hug.
    *cue Screaming at Squick from Asmira, before she's tailwrapped and unceremoniously hauled up the tower*

  • Reverse Psychology: Bartimaeus "praises" Kitty for her "intelligence" in leaving Nathaniel to his doom. He also uses this to trick a trapped afrit into revealing the secrets of Solomon's Ring, and to manipulate several of his previous masters to their deaths and...yeah, he does this a lot.
  • The Rival: Faquarl to Bartimaeus, and Jane Farrar to Nathaniel.
  • Rival Turned Evil
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Solomon's a major example, constantly using the ring to help both Jerusalem and the surrounding kingdoms. However, it extracts a terrible price from him, allowing the other magicians to start running little side ventures of plunder, pillage and murder.
  • Save the Villain: Towards the end of The Golem's Eye, Kitty saves an unconscious Nathaniel from the golem, even though he has been her Inspector Javert for much of the book and has just betrayed her with the intention of arresting her.
  • Saying Too Much: In The Ring of Solomon, Bartimaeus at one point wears the guise of a pygmy hippo that bears more than a passing resemblance to one of Solomon's wives. Solomon is annoyed because he ordered that none of the spirits wear unnatural guises, but doesn't notice the resemblance to that particular wife. Much later in the book, Solomon chastises Bartimaeus for his various transgressions and mentions the hippo guise and Bartimaeus protests that it looked nothing like his wife. Solomon stops him and says that what he was going to say was that it showed disrespect for the sanctity of his temple.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Bartimaeus has a plethora of guises at hand, but in the trilogy he is known to be most comfortable in the appearance of Ptolemy. Faquarl similarly defaults to the appearance of a pudgy chef with a meat cleaver.
    • And then there's their "true" forms. Faquarl's true form is quite the Eldritch Abomination (tentacles and everything), instantly killing several ravens who just glanced at it. Bartimaeus' true form, much to his eternal chagrin, is a much less impressive large blob of gray goop (though that may just be the form he assumes when he is severely weakened).
    • Additionally it's noted that spirits, even flexible shapeshifters like Bartimaeus, tend to choose forms that fit into certain broad patterns unless they make a particular effort. Crows are an extremely common form, for example.
  • Sharing a Body: Bartimaeus and Nathaniel in Book 3.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The first book of has Twoflower from Discworld make a subtle and brief cameo in a marketplace for magical items containing demons (Twoflower's camera, or "iconograph", is powered by a tiny demon painting pictures really fast).
    • The second book features two policemen who ask Bartimaeus and his master for their identification. Bartimaeus puts a 'glaze' on the two policemen. They then forget the object of their inquiry and move along.
    • Nathaniel, a magician, takes on the name "John Mandrake".
    • The foods Lovelace ordered for his party in the first book include larks' tongues in aspic.
    • Fred Elliott from Coronation Street makes a cameo opening his butcher's shop in the graphic novel.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Inverted in Ring of Solomon - Faquarl, the serious-minded djinni, is summarily dismissed right before Khaba gets revenge on Bartimaeus, Ammet reveals himself and the plot really gets going.
  • Shoo the Dog: Ptolemy and Nathaniel to Bartimaeus; Bartimaeus and Nathaniel to Kitty.
  • Shrine to Self: It's mentioned in Ptolemy's Gate that Quentin Makepeace has one of these. However, we don't actually get to see it because when we get to the point in the story where it's visited, he's changed it into a place for a magical experiment, a twisted one that is key to the book's climax.
  • Significant Name Shift: The eponymous demon insists on calling Nathaniel by his true name after inadvertently finding it out early in book one, but at the end of book two, shortly before Nathaniel de-summons him, he calls him by his "John Mandrake" public identity for the first time. Bartimaeus intends this as an insult: the formerly idealistic Nathaniel has sold out and become just like every other magician.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: Some Earthly herbs and elements are noxious or painful to spirits, but silver is downright fatal.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the third book, when Faquarl accuses Bartimaeus of betraying his kind, Bartimaeus angrily retorts that Faquarl is the traitor who abandoned the Other Place (where they and other spirits come from) and even encouraged other spirits to leave for the sake of vengeance.
  • Slave to PR: Nathaniel in the later books, once he enters politics - note that this does not necessarily make him more ethical, just more underhanded.
  • Smug Snake: Lovelace. Nathaniel himself in the second book. And Julius Tallow. And Duvall, seeing as Makepeace played him like a fiddle. And seeing as how Faquarl played him like a fiddle, Quentin Makepeace probably counts.
    • Something of an Invoked Trope - the vast majority of magicians seem like scheming, selfish, paranoid, arrogant, power-hungry slimeballs... and even when they're not, the whole system is basically designed to nurture their worst instincts and grind away their humanity. Nathaniel starts out as an ambitious Wide-Eyed Idealist with at least some sense of honor and ethics, but the only way to be a successful magician is to be a ruthlessly self-interested bastard who seizes every opportunity, breaks their word whenever they can get away with it, and discards allies when they're no longer useful. Contrast Mr Button, an unusually powerful magician but basically a Nice Guy, whose unwillingness to pursue advancement at any cost has left him a sidelined irrelevancy with no real influence.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Nathaniel in the first book.
  • Spirit World: The "Other Place."
  • Starfish Aliens: Humans insist on calling them demons and the Other Place an abyss, but this is what they really are, when they aren't Eldritch Abominations. A Hive Mind with no individual identity, existing in a joyous, chaotic whirl in a place with no dimensions where time does not exist. Being trapped in individual bodies on Earth hurts, and they can die permanently.
  • The Starscream: Khaba in the prequel.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Ammet to a T. Let's face it, there's no other reason anyone would like Khaba.
  • Stumbling in the New Form: In Ptolemy's Gate, during the spirit revolt, the spirits trick the magicians into summoning their essences directly into their bodies and then consume their brains. Following doing this, they have a terrible time at first of controlling the bodies. On the other hand, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus master it much more quickly due to it being a mutual partnership, with Bartimaeus not consuming Nathaniel's brain.
  • Stylistic Suck: Quentin Makepeace's plays are incredibly cheesy.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: At the end of the prequel, Bartimaeus does this using Solomon's Ring to get rid of Ammet. It helps that in this case the Bigger Fish isn't just a mindless predator - it is a very old, very powerful, very smart spirit that really dislikes Ammet and actively encourages Bartimaeus to punish him.
  • Summon Binding: When a sorcerer summons a demon they usually draw a pair of pentragrams that keep the demon restrained for as long as nothing crosses the lines, only releasing the demon once it swears to perform a task. Only sorcerers and demons who implicitly trust each other, such as Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, will summon without binding, as demons quite like the taste of human meat.
  • Summon Magic: Magicians pretty much run exclusively on conjuring and binding demons into doing their bidding. Magical artifacts mostly work by either containing a spell inside of something, or outright trapping a demon inside an object. There are passing mentions of other forms of magic, and some such as the Golem can be of extraordinary power, but summoning has come out overwhelmingly on top because it doesn't require magicians to risk themselves or do things like sacrifice their life force.
  • Summoning Artifact: A summoning horn is this. It allows a magician to quickly summon a powerful spirit without the tedious time-consuming chanting of incantation or the normal personal risk of standing in a pentacle facing another pentacle. This is amply demonstrated in The Amulet of Samarkand when Simon Lovelace uses one to summon Ramuthra, a monstrous spirit capable of warping reality itself.
  • Summoning Ritual
  • Switching P.O.V.: This was the basic format of the series, which, not counting the prequel novel, for the most part featured three perspectives, these being the djinni Bartimaeus, the magician Nathaniel / John Mandrake, and the resistance fighter Kitty Jones. Only Bartimaeus's was first-person and he was an Unreliable Narrator, which often made for humor when he would make some grandiose claim which would be put paid when the narration would switch to show more accurately what was really happening.
  • Tastes Like Feet: In Ptolemy's Gate, Mr. Button describes a cup of tea brewed by Kitty, who is upset about her plan having been rejected by Bartimaeus, as being "as insipid as gnat's piss."
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Any time Bartimaeus and Nathaniel work together without a pentacle; actually a subversion, as Bartimaeus would have killed Nathaniel if there hadn't been other parts in the agreement to stop it... Or so he insist.
  • Teleportation Sickness: In The Ring of Solomon it's mentioned that spontaneous matter transfer, which only extremely powerful spirits can effect, results in one's becoming nauseous. Bartimaeus notes that the fact that Queen Balkis is able to endure it without vomiting is a sign of good breeding.
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: Towards the beginning of Ptomely's Gate, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus go through a variation of this, with Nathaniel's secretary, Ms. Piper, as the unfortunate intermediary. It finally ends thus:
    Nathaniel: ...tell him, Ms. Piper, that if he successfully completes the following mission I shall agree to his temporary dismissal for the purposes of recuperation, and let him be satisfied with that.
    Bartimaeus: Tell him that this offer will only be acceptable if the mission is simple, swift, and utterly without danger.
    Nathaniel: Tell him—-oh, for heaven's sake, just tell him what the mission is and have done!
  • That Man Is Dead:
    • "You'll notice I'm calling you John Mandrake now... the boy who was Nathaniel's fading, almost gone."
    • In the middle of book three, Ms. Lutyens outright tells Nathaniel that he is no longer the boy who was grateful to her and leaves in disgust.
    • Then finally, at the end of book three, Nathaniel tells Kitty his birth name, and no longer goes by Mandrake, looking at how he used to be with disgust.
    • To a lesser extent, Kitty. She considers giving one of her false identities to the junior magicians... and realizes she doesn't need to.
  • Toilet Paper Substitute: In Ptolemy's Gate, Nathaniel in his role as John Mandrake of the government has put out a number of pamphlets full of government puffery and lies called Real War Stories. During a meeting of commoners to discuss the government's outrages, a tavern-keeper comments that he's made a point to collect as many of them as possible, and when he is chastised for this, says that he's proud to do so and that if anyone visits the bathroom after the meeting is over, they'll see ample proof of their usefulness.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: When Kitty tries to trick Bartimaeus into entering a bottle in the form of an insect, he laughs at the idea that he would fall for one of The Oldest Tricks in the Book. He notes, however, that had the trick worked it would have been a very powerful binding charm since he would have imprisoned himself of his own free will.
  • The Trickster: Bartimaeus.
  • Trilogy Creep: It was a trilogy, then along came the announcement of a prequel. On Wikipedia, it is now listed as "The Bartimaeus Sequence" and this name has also sometimes been used in publicity material, such as "About the Author" blurbs for the Lockwood & Co. series. Not necessarily a straight example, though. The original trilogy remains the trilogy of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel in London. The events of the prequel book are only remotely connected to that trilogy and set in a time period well before it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many of the magicians manage this, particularly the villains.
    • Simon Lovelace and Quentin Makepeace summon demons to do their bidding. They get destroyed.
    • Jane Ferrar tries to implement her authority and refuses the help of other magicians and Kitty Jones. She dies, though this is implied.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Kitty and Stanley pose as a couple to remain inconspicuous on a job in The Golem's Eye.
  • Underside Ride: Bartimaeus does this in the first book, having just escaped imprisonment and needing to flee in a hurry. Made somewhat easier for him in that he can transform into a small and very spiny impling who has no trouble sticking to the car.
  • Unknown Rival: Twelve-year-old Nathaniel to Simon Lovelace in Book 1.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Bartimaeus's actions in his own chapters often contrast with the different perspectives of the same events that Kitty and Nathaniel have.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Nathaniel and Kitty. Also Jane Farrar and John Mandrake, though he's probably happy about that last one being unresolved.
  • Vancian Magic: The first time you summon a demon, it's Hermetic Magic with a lot of chanting and pentagrams drawn on the floor. The demon can essentially be put on standby and quickly summoned again with a few words.
  • Villain Protagonist: Nathaniel, sometimes. Also, depending on your point of view, the human protagonist of The Ring of Solomon for much of the book.
  • Villainous Valor: Jessica Whitwell is swiftly established as one of the more heartless and vicious magicians, but her act of defiance against nearly hopeless odds is what gives Nathaniel and Kitty an opening to escape the clutches of the rebelling spirits in the third book.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Simon Lovelace, Henry Duvall, Quentin Makepeace.
  • Volleying Insults: Bartimaeus and Nathaniel at their most childish - i.e. most of the time.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Bartimaeus and the other spirits, though the number of shapes varies,and Kitty while in The Other Place, though she's not very good at it since she hasn't had much experience. According to Bartimaeus, it's an indicator of a spirit's intelligence (and therefore power) to be able to assume many shapes. Imps are often simple-minded, so they're limited to a handful of simple animal forms like pigeons, frogs, rats, etc., whilst foliots and above seem to be able to take the shape of basically anything (Bartimaeus even appears in inorganic forms like whirlwind and smoke). On the absolute farthest end of the scale is Khaba's marid Ammet, who is so good at shapeshifting the illusion even extends to the seventh plane, something which no other spirit in the series can do.
  • Water Wake-up: Nathaniel gets one in Book 2.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Bartimaeus, relatively. Djinn are in the middle in the hierarchy of conventional, commonly summoned demons (behind afrits and marids). He's a moderately strong djinni, but is weaker than Faquarl and Jabor in an all-out fight, not to mention anything stronger. He gets by with his wits and running away at appropriate times, especially as he grows progressively less strong in Book 3 from being continually summoned. As djinn are the most powerful demon likely to be summoned, with afrits and marids being a sign of Oh, Crap! levels of power, he's often moderately outclassed.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Spirits and silver/iron - but somewhat justified in that they are alien to earth and everything connected to it causes them discomfort (like we get from fire because we are alien to it). It's part of traditional folklore that silver and iron weapons are effective against supernatural beings.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Bartimaeus claims to avoid becoming attached to his human masters because he knows he will inevitably outlive them.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Resistance becomes increasingly subject to infighting and bitterness as the years go by.
  • Wham Line: The finale of the first book.
    Lovelace: Kill this woman!
    Ramuthra: I see no woman. Only a grinning djinni.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Bartimaeus calls Nathaniel on this every time, though Nathaniel rarely seems to get the point. It is open to interpretation whether Bartimaeus actually cares or just gets his kicks seeing Nathaniel squirm.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Nathaniel - he gets over it. Almost too far over it at least for a while. More purely, Ptolemy and Kitty.
  • Willing Channeler: Makepeace and his cronies attempt a version of this, believing that they can bring a demon into their bodies to use its power while maintaining personal control. Only Nathaniel is able to survive summoning a spirit into himself because he and Bartimaeus work together, with neither one trying to seize unilateral control of the other's mind or body.
  • Will-o'-the-Wisp: Will-o'-the-wisps are small spirits that are described as "struggling to keep up with the times." Visible as flickering flames on the first plane, they were once employed to lure travelers to their death in pits or quags, but, with the invention of cities, were employed to lurk over manhole covers, to rather less effect.
  • Wizard Workshop: Deconstructed. The djinni Bartimaeus notes that the presence of stereotypical "wizardly" paraphernalia is a good indication that a mage is a second-rate poser trying to hide his incompetence behind spooky knickknacks that impress the hoi polloi but don't have any practical use, whereas the truly powerful magicians favor a sleek, modern look.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Played with. In the opening of The Ring of Solomon, the magician Ezekiel grows annoyed with Bartimaeus's cheek and threatens to pummel him with a punishment called the "Essence Fist." "You'd hit a woman?" asks Bartimaeus, who is wearing a sultry female guise at the moment.
  • Written by the Winners: History classes are mandatory for commoners' children, where they're taught a version of history that uplifts the magicians on the side of the British government and casts commoners in general as weak and unable to rule. Foreign governments are vilified, and the Czechs have a particularly bad time of it, this being the ruling government prior to Britain. Questions are generally discouraged and regarded with disdain. Ironically, the government has whitewashed things so thoroughly that even the magicians themselves are never taught the full truth and actually wholeheartedly believe the state line in many things. This being ironic because if they did know the real history it would help them identify certain recurring patterns and thus, at least for a time, help them maintain their faltering power.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Bartimaeus's reaction upon discovering that it is once again Nathaniel that has summoned him in The Golem's Eye even though it was strongly implied at the end of The Amulet of Samarkand that he would never summon him again.
    "You!" "Now, hold on, Bartimaeus—" "You!" The ethereal music cut off with an unpleasant squelch; the soft aromatic fragrances turned rank and sour. The beautiful maiden's face grew crimson, her eyes bulged like a pair of poached eggs, the glass in the spectacles cracked.
  • You Remind Me of X: In The Golem's Eye, Bartimaeus realizes fairly early on that John Mandrake (Nathaniel) has adopted certain mannerisms that remind him of someone, though he can't quite figure out who. When he finally does figure it out, he doesn't hesitate to tell Nathaniel that his fiddling with his hair, etc., reminds him of Nathaniel's old nemesis, Simon Lovelace.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Resistance is introduced as a group of crazy teenage anarchists who want to bring down the noble and just government. From their own point of view, they honestly have noble intentions but get bogged down in secrecy and greed.