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Topic Started: Dec 26 2006, 11:10 PM (3,938 Views)
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Hello. I know you've heard this a million times, but I absolutely adore the trilogy! I just wish it was longer. I'm planning on buying your other books as well when I get the chance.

But, of course, I had a few questions for you. I checked the question list and none of these appear to have been answered yet. I’m sorry there are so many! I think too much about what I read.

1. In one book, Bartimaeus is mentioned to be a djinni of at least the fourteenth level, but in another, he is said to be a fourth. Was this a mistake, or do the djinni ranks go backwards (as in level one being the highest)?

2. Was Mrs. Underwood a magician? The way she was talking after Nathaniel became Arthur Underwood's apprentice, I was wondering if she wasn't just someone who researched demons, some sort of high-placed commoner.

3. I was rather surprised after Queezle's death that Bartimaeus wasn't very upset. He seemed pretty intent on getting to her to save her, and then once he realized she was probably dead, he mentioned wanting revenge, but only briefly. Was he just not attatched enough to get upset, or is he masking emotions here?

4. What made you decide to make Bartimaeus a more middle-ranking demon? I suspected it was because the lower ranks were generally too unintelligent to be interesting and the higher ones were too unlike humans, but I would be interested to hear your answer.

5. What exactly would Ptolemy look like? We know from Bartimaeus that he was an Egyptian boy about fourteen years old, so he was dark-skinned, and both Bartimaeus and a few people who commented on the appearance have suggested that he was attractive. Kitty also noted that he had a couple of moles and a scar from being hit with an arrow. But there seems to be some disagreement among fans, mostly over the kind of hairstyle he had. And although Bartimaeus has appeared as Ptolemy wearing a loincloth, would that have been a typical outfit the boy would have worn?

6. Did part of Nathaniel’s plan in releasing Bartimaeus before he died include that Bartimaeus would be presumed dead? I had been wondering if, as a reward of some sort, he wanted to ensure that Bartimaeus wouldn’t have to endure slavery ever again.

7. Bartimaeus loves telling about his exploits, but always is eager to return to the other place. Would he rather be among the nameless who isn’t called upon by magicians, or is he happy that he was able to do what he has done?

8. How reliable is Bartimaeus as a narrator? He is quick to accuse Faquarl of lying about his past, but I sometimes find myself wondering if Bartimaeus is being entirely truthful with us. I seem to remember him commenting once that Faquarl claimed to have known every great magician, but then adding something along the lines of, “But as I once remarked to Solomon, that is just ridiculous.” Were you trying to tell us that Bartimaeus is exaggerating his own life story?

9. Is Bartimaeus able to speak every language authomatically or does he have to learn them like a normal person?

10. Is a demon confused on its first summoning about what's going on and things in the earthly realm in general?

Thanks in advance for answering my questions.
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Jonathan Stroud
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Hi there,

Thanks for the questions! I'll do my best...

1. Yep, this is a mistake. At some point I should try to alter it so they read the same. Having said that, the difference between a fourteenth and a fourth-level djinni is probably pretty small (at least as far as we humans can tell!).

2. Good question. I think that she might have started out as one - maybe received some initial training, but then (because she's far too nice and sensible) stopped and devoted herself to Underwood. Or it's possible that she's one of those commoners who support the high levels of society (a bit like Jakob's family) - who become accustomed to magic even though they don't practise it themselves.

3. Bart WAS attached to Queezle, but over the centuries he's learned the hard way not to let this sort of bond get in the way of his survival. With the golem, he's soon fighting for his life and this pushes his softer emotions to one side. But I think he IS angry and upset, and he essentially masks this: a good number of fine djinn have died around him in the last few millennia.

4. You're about right. Bart needs to be pretty powerful, so we can see him doing lots of fun things - he's resourceful and potent, that's part of his attraction - but he also needs to be less powerful than he'd like to be, and vulnerable too. That places him squarely in the middle of the hierarchy, though he'd love to claim he was higher up.

5. The description you give is pretty good, but there's an ambivalence about Ptolemy (both in looks and dress) in that he's not purely Egyptian but also part of the (originally Greek) Ptolemaic dynasty. I think his mother was Egyptian, and so dark-skinned, and his father's line at least in part Greek. I see him as being handsome, rather serious (though when B wears his guise, that won't be the case) - his hair I guess would be neither wholly straight nor too curly - somewhere in the middle - I see it getting tousled quite often. As for the loincloth, P probably wore this a lot because of the heat and because he wasn't that fussed about his appearance, but he would also have worn a more Greek style tunic and sandals.

6. Yes. I think his basic plan was to let Bart live, but that aspect of it - a kind of extra reward - was part of the deal too.

7. Good question: I think that having been summoned over the years B has got to the point where he actually needs and relishes the action: it essentially defines him. He wouldn't admit this, but you can see it when he's boasting. But if he'd never been summoned, he'd no doubt have prefered the more innocent, pure existence in the OP.

8. Bart is just as unreliable as Faquarl; maybe more so. It would be foolish to take everything he said as absolutely accurate, although it's clear that he HAS had many varied adventures all over the place. There's definitely exaggeration in there. Maybe we'll uncover the truth about some of his past adventures in a future book...

9. Hmmm... I think he has to learn them, but he can probably do so at phenomenal speed. Most of the ones he uses with magicians are ancient tongues that he's known for centuries, but he'll have to quickly learn modern languages when necessary.

10. Yes. The first summons would be a bit like a human being born - utter shock and disorientation. Except instead of a nice nurturing mum, you've got an irritable magician to fill you in on the way things are. Definitely like a birth - being ripped from the nourishing fabric of the Other Place.

Great questions Valkyrie - I'm really pleased you've entered this world in such detail!

All the best,

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