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Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Stroud(1970- )
Jonathan Stroud was born in Bedford, England and grew up in St. Albans, near London. After graduating from university with a degree in English, Stroud worked for several years as an editor at Walker Books. His first book, Buried Fire, was published in 1999. THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY won the 2006 Mythopoeic Society Award for Children’s literature, and the first book in the series, The Amulet of Samarkand, won the Boston Globe/ Horn Book award in the US in 2004. Learn more about Stroud at his website.

The Amulet of Samarkand: Highly recommended children’s fantasy

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

As I've said in previous reviews, if you're going to set your book in England and have as a main character a young boy learning the art of wizardry, you've guaranteed yourself a comparison to HARRY POTTER. With The Amulet of Samarkand, Jonathan Stroud can proudly say, "bring him on — wands at 15 paces!” With so much pallid fantasy out there, Amulet is a breath of fresh air, told in a witty, original voice within a well-constructed plot and structure focused on two complex characters.

The Amulet of Samarkand is set in an alternate England ruled by magicians whose powers come from their ability to conjure demons. The society is beset within (by a resistance movement of "commoners" as well as by the murderous in-fighting among the ruli... Read More

The Golem’s Eye: Good sequel, lacks a bit of the spark

The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud

The Golem's Eye is a solidly enjoyable if slightly disappointing follow-up to The Amulet of Samarkand, which admittedly set itself a very high standard. The book returns to the same setting and characters first introduced in Samarkand, while expanding upon the first novel with a few new characters, one new setting (Prague) and a somewhat more complicated plot.

As in the first book, the major story involves a plot against the government which Nathaniel the young ambitious wizard must confront with his much more wise and experienced (and acidic) djinn, Bartimeus. Suspects are the Prague Council, a traitor within the British govt., someone bent on personal revenge, and the Resistance, including young Kitty from book one.

All the strengths of the first book remain, though diluted somewhat in execution. Stroud... Read More

The Ring of Solomon: Bartimaeus is back!

The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud

Fans of Jonathan Stroud’s fantastic Bartimaeus Trilogy, which began with The Amulet of Samarkand and ended with Ptolemy’s Gate, will be happy to know that the title character — the wise-cracking fourth-level djinn who has long-standing issues with authority — is back and funny as ever in The Ring of Solomon.

Rather than continue the story of the first trilogy, though, or give us a typical “here’s what happened just before” prequel, Stroud has chosen to set this new story thousands of years earlier during the time of, well, Solomon (the title’s a bit of a giveaway). Luckily, when your main character is basically immortal, that isn’t a problem. Bartimaeus’ favorite bête noi... Read More

Heroes of the Valley: A quick, enjoyable, often funny YA read

Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud

In the long ago history of Jonathan Stroud’s YA fantasy Heroes of the Valley, the great hero Svein gathered the other 11 heroes of the Valley to fight the Battle of the Rock against the ravening inhuman Trows who had long terrorized the Valley residents, snatching babies and killing women and children at night — the only time the Trow came out. At the end of the battle, the heroes were all dead but the Trow were driven utterly out of the valley and into the heights. Since then, the Twelve Houses of the Heroes have buried their dead in cairns lining the boundary of the Valley, each body holding a sword to keep the Trow out while none of the Valley residents go past the cairns. Also, the houses have given up violence, instead solving problem through arbitration, and the leaders of each house are Arbiters, their wives the Lawgivers.

Halli Sveinsson... Read More

The Screaming Staircase: Spooky and fun (but no Bartimaeus)

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathon Stroud

LOCKWOOD & CO. is Jonathan Stroud’s second four-part outing. It follows on from the success of his BARTIMAEUS sequence (which comes highly recommended here at FanLit). Stroud specialises in alternate versions of London for children. In BARTIMAEUS it was a London of djinn-conjuring wizards. This time London is troubled by deadly ghosts. The Screaming Staircase is a pacey, exciting introduction to Stroud's new London, but it lacks the sense of magic and humour that made BARTIMAEUS such a winner.

The story’s narrator is Lucy Carlyle, a young girl from the north of England who makes her way to London, seeking employment at a ghost-hunting agency. London’s ghosts are extremely dangerous, able to kill ... Read More

More fantasy novels by Jonathan Stroud

Stand-alone novels:

Jonathan Stroud children's fantasy Buried Fire, The Leap, The Last Siege, The Heroes of the ValleyBuried Fire — (1999) Publisher: When Michael staggers home red-eyed and confused from an afternoon alone on the hill, his family suspect sunstroke, or even drugs. But the truth is more terrifying than that. By digging up a Celtic cross in the churchyard, church excavators have released the evil influences of a dragon long buried under the neighbouring hill, and powerful forces are at large Sinister neighbours have already yielded to the enticements of this power and are determined to make Michael one of their own. The fragile bonds that link Michael with his brother and sister are seemingly about to be destroyed in a fight for his soul…

Jonathan Stroud children's fantasy Buried Fire, The Leap, The Last Siege, The Heroes of the ValleyThe Leap — (2001) Publisher: No one believes Charlie when she tells them what happened to Max at the Mill Pool. They all think she’s in shock; even her brother James can’t begin to understand. So as she recovers in the hospital bed, Charlie vows to hunt for Max alone.

Jonathan Stroud children's fantasy Buried Fire, The Leap, The Last Siege, The Heroes of the ValleyThe Last Siege — (2003) Publisher: A chance encounter on the snowy slopes of a castle moat throws together three lonely teenagers: Emily, Simon, and the highly enigmatic Marcus, who is the catalyst for all that follows. At first the castle’s ruins are merely the backdrop to a day in the snow. But when the three break into the forbidden interior of the keep, they find the castle taking on a different and deeper meaning. Despite the freezing conditions, they spend the night there, to experience the power of occupation. But when the re-enactment gets out of control and a very real siege ensues, their playful dare soon turns into a frenzy of nightmarish action.

The Ghost of Shadow ValThe Ghost of Shadow Vale — (2009) Publisher: Thorhall is grateful when he hears the ferocious Glam is willing to be his shepherd. But when a fight with a monster leaves Glam dead, his ghost begins to haunt Shadow Vale. Who will be brave enough to confront the wicked spectre? The hero Grettir thinks he may be in with a chance. Will he manage to defeat Glam?