Magic in the Bartimaeus Trilogy

Magic in the Bartimaeus Trilogy

Magic in The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud can be created by two entities, the magician or the magical entity summoned from the "Other Place".



Each country has a different process of training apprentices. Italy favours the child remaining in the family, which later apparently causes many family rivalries. However, in British culture children are given up by their parents to undergo magical training with a qualified magician. In return, the parents, usually commoners receive a large sum of money as compensation. Apprentices are then trained in all manner of magical arts. They have rigorous physical as well as mental training. Physical exercise might be useful in order to summon and control more powerful spirits, however some magicians in the series, such as Marmaduke Fry, appear to have risen to power but not maintained the vigour in which they were trained. This makes it unlikely that it is a requirement of powerful magic.


The knowledge of a persons true or birth-name can give one power and control over that individual.(It is by this means that magicians are able to summon spirits in the first place.) For this reason new apprentices, when taken as children, are instructed to forget there birth-name and chose a new one when they come of age. This allows them to summon spirits without fear of loss of control from a spirit that knows their name. The power provided by names is shown in the series when Bartimaeus is able to reflect Nathaniel's punishments because of his use of Nathaniel's birth-name.


Due to the extended use of magic as a culture many people in Britain built up resilience to magic as well as talents such as seeing into the other planes of existence or detecting magical auras. these talents made them able to resist the magical attacks of demons and so resist the Ruling class of magicians who had few non-magical means of restoring order.

Magical Entity Classes

The most commonly summoned magical entities exist in 5 basic types, listed in increasing order of power:

* Imps - Spirits of weak ability, often rude to compensate. They are only effective in extreme numbers or as messengers.
* Foliots - Spirits of more capable strength. They are weaker than djinn, but useful for everyday tasks too difficult or sensitive for imps. Apparently they are good laborers, being used to build many things, including the Walls of Prague, with Bartimaeus.
* Djinn - powerful spirits able to sustain high-powered magical attacks for a short period. Bartimaeus is a fourth level Djinn, and is listed as an extremely dangerous being. Djinn of his caliber -- and Djinn in general -- are sneaky but very creative, and able to complete nearly any task set to them.
* Afrits - Spirits of great ability, "Immune to the magic of mere Djinn", according to Honorious, an Afrit of Ninth level strength. Due to being spirits of fire, they are near-powerless in water. Afrits are usually seen doing guard duty for prominent figures, but Bartimaeus claims that they are "overrated".
* Marids - The most powerful of the regularly summoned entities. Marids are mentioned, but never actually appear in the series. A particularly muscular marid by the name of Atlas was charged to hold the Parthenon's foundations up for eternity as punishment for slacking off on their construction. Marids are so powerful that they leave behind a trail of magic that can be traced, similar to the trail of slime left behind by a snail, but it is considered unwise to use this analogy to a Marid's face for obvious reasons. Bartimaeus claims marids are "dreadfully full of themselves".

There are many magical beings below imps---for example "mites," small magical bugs---and other beings who are much stronger than marids (Nouda and Ramuthra are two such entities), but these are not really classified into levels and are rarely summoned. This is primarily because the former are not very useful, while the latter are too powerful for any but the most powerful magicians to control.Elementals are also mentioned in the books, most notably their usage in elemental spheres, but their actual nature is unexplained and it is largely unclear what classification they come under, if they come under the 5 types at all. However, Bartimaeus mentions that spirits like him, who are beings of fire and air, are harmed by the element of earth and Honorius is almost completely powerless in water, so the existence of water and earth elementals implies that they are a different form of spirit than the 5 conventional types.

In total there are thirteen thousand and forty-six classified types of spirit, and according to the magician Petronius there are forty-five thousand unclassified, although Zavattini believes there to be forty-eight thousand.

Lesser Spirits

Below and at level with Imps, there are:

*Messenger Imps
*Mites:Lesser Frilled Green Hornetwing Mites:Greater Frilled Green Hornetwing Mites
*Natterjack Implings
*Scarlet Vexations
*Shadow Stalkers
*Stygian Implets
*Vigilance/Search Sphere Imps

Djinn Sub-class

The various subclasses of the djinn are:

*Cockatrices- Spirit with a deadly gaze, like the original Basilisk, so that one must wear mirrored glasses and place mirrors around the pentacle, with its instructions in a bowl, to safely control it. Mr. Lovelace quizzed Nathaniel on them during their first meeting.
*Demi-Afrits: Supposedly potent spirits that are close to, but not at, an Afrit's level; at least four were present at the Piccadilly Raid.
*Ghuls: fond of human flesh, sentries at Heddlam Hall, fought in the Siege Of Prague less powerful than most djinn.
*Horlas: powerful djinn that cause illness and despair in humans and sap other spirits' essence. As a result they are often used to combat other djinn.; they were used as sentries at the Tower Of London, were part of the guard that protected the PM and Mr Fry and fought in the Siege Of Prague. Horlas appear as thin, smokey apparations with a human shape with glowing eyes.
*Krels: tall, thin, reddish djinn, were used as sentries at Mr Lovelace's house.
*Reviler: mentioned only once on p.230 of "The Amulet Of Samarkand" as a threat for Nathaniel's "failed" summoning of Bartimaeus.
*Tracker Djinn: Were used to track Martin in the Westminster Raid.
*Succubi: seductive female djinn, often unstable, and prone to recklessness and self destruction unless placated, "oddly" popular with male Magicians.
*Triloids: three-legged yellow sentry djinn, were used as sentries at Mr Lovelace's house. They are described as having three muscular legs which rotate on a hub of gristle. Above the hub of gristle is a blobby mass which sports two mouths and numerous eyes.
*Utukku: particularly unintelligent djinn that generally take the form of animal-headed warriors, and used as sentries at the Tower Of London. Many of their people fought in the Battle Of Al-Arish, where Bartimaeus slaughtered almost all of them single-handedly (The Amulet of Samarkand, mentioned briefly in Ptolemy's Gate) through Bartimaeus's 5 steps to slaying an Utukku (1. Pick up a rock 2. Throw it behind the desired Utukku so it makes a distracting sound 3. Watch the Utukku swivel around, eyes popping 4. Run it through the back with gusto 5. Gloat to taste).

Greater Spirits

Similarly, above marids exist entities of terrible power which few magicians dare bother. One of these, due to lack of a constraining pentacle, destroyed and sunk Atlantis, causing tidal waves to lap up onto the Egyptian coast.Examples of these would be:

*Nouda - Slain by the combined power of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel and the staff of Gladstone during the Spirit Rebellion. Prior to this, Nouda ravaged Tenochtitlan, annihilated Darius of Persia's personal army, and stacked executed prisoner's heads up to 50 feet during Mongolian invasions.
*Ramuthra - summoned for first time in "The Amulet of Samarkand". He was dismissed soon after he swallowed Simon Lovelace, a traitor, and was unable to do much harm to the Government.


The basic form of the magical entities consists of a substance named "essence", a flowing shapeless matter, described as a smokey liquid, while in the other place it is described as a mixture between gas and liquid. It is responsible for their personality, power, and abilities. While on earth, they have to create a physical body for themselves, which may be of any form they please although they have a set appearance on the 7th plane that never changes. Maintaining this form pains them, and their essences weaken if summoned for a prolonged period. Their essences are also extremely vulnerable to silver and iron. These metals are often used to subdue spirits, such as when Bartimaeus chases Honorius ("The Golem's Eye") and when Mandrake tries to threaten Bartimaeus with a silver-tipped spear ("Ptolemy's Gate"). It is to be noted that the Resistance often used silver throwing discs against spirits. The spirits are also vulnerable against rowan powder, rosemary, garlic, and a few other substances.

The Planes

There are multiple co-existing planes in the "Bartimaeus trilogy". The first plane contains all physical things. while the others show magical activity. Humans can normally only see the first plane; however, magicians use lenses that allow them also to see into the second and third planes. Usually, these lenses take the form of contact lenses, but magicians sometimes use them in the form of eyeglasses or a monocle. Auras are emitted on the first plane, but are invisible to humans. (Spirits and cats can see them, however.) These can reveal someone's emotions or intent. Almost all spirits are able to see and change their appearance on other planes. The number of planes on which a spirit can operate depends on that spirit's power. Bartimaeus is able to see and disguise himself in the first seven planes, though the disguise is weaker on the higher planes. A spirit cannot hide their true appearance to any spirit at least as powerful as themselves, as their "true" form is revealed on a higher plane.


To summon an entity, a magician is required to draw a pentacle; failing to do so will result in the magician's being attacked and/or torn apart by the entity he summons. He also needs to take many precautionary measures to prevent any mishap (like escape of the entity which will likely result in the death of the magician at the hands of the entity). A number of herbs act as instruments to ward off entities. The magician then speaks a spell. The spell acts in the following manner: the magician's voice carries to the "Other Place" taking nine seconds, where it draws the attention of the entity being called (seven seconds). The entity then has to answer the summons or risk tearing its essence apart. It then appears in an adjoining pentacle (three seconds).

Depending on the skill of the magician, there are limits to summoning ability. Some powerful magicians mentioned in the series were:

*Nathaniel/John Mandrake
*Simon Lovelace
*Maurice Schyler
*Quentin Makepeace
*Jessica Whitwell
*William Gladstone
*Henry Duvall
*Kitty Jones
*Tycho Brahe
* Mr. Button (capable of summoning a Marid)

Magical items

The Amulet of Samarkand

It is an immensely powerful amulet, that contains an unusually strong entity (enough to ward off the power of Ramuthra, a being so potent that it disrupts each of the seven planes) who can absorb any magical spell or creature that is of lesser strength than the trapped spirit residing in the Amulet. Like all amulets it is a passive defensive item. It was created some 3,000 years ago in the Steppes of Central Asia as a gift to a princess. It is made of pressed gold in an oval shape, bearing shapes of running horses, and hangs on a gold chain. There is a jade stone in the center where the spirit is contained, and all magic is absorbed into it.

Gladstone's staff

Gladstone's staff is a powerful offensive weapon containing the power of at least two trapped marids. It was used by Gladstone, the most powerful magician of Britain, in his conquest of various countries across the world, thus building a world empire. The staff was destroyed by Nathaniel when he let the entities inside break free so that the magical shockwave would collapse the Crystal Palace, in which Nathaniel and Nouda were fighting, and destroy Nouda through the falling iron frame.

Golem's Eye

A magical, ornate stone eye made from hardened river mud, this allows a magician to see what the golem is seeing and to give the golem commands. The eye is used in conjunction with a golem's body and golem's scroll, and one of the few recorded in modern times was in the collection of Simon Lovelace. After the events of the Amulet of Samarkand, it is placed into government vaults and used later in the Golem's Eye.

Golem's body

Golems were creatures shaped from mud and created by a spell that required the majority of the energy of the magician. They originally came from Bohemia, especially Prague, where the great magician Loew (based on legendary Rabbi Loew of Prague) created one deep in the ghetto 400 years prior to the book "The Golem's Eye." They were used as a last-ditch defence against the British invasion of Prague. They were controlled by a golem's eye, a magical instrument that allowed the magician to see what the golem was seeing and thus direct it. One was used by Henry Duvall to destroy large parts of London. The body must be combined with a golem's eye and golem's scroll to make a golem. It is implied that golems draw power from a different (earthly) source than spirits. They are slow but are very strong. Golems have a cloud of black smoke around their bodies. This cloud is harmful and can be lethal to djinn and other demons. Golems negate demons' powers and eat away at demons' essences. Gladstone's afrit, Honorius, was destroyed when he made contact with Duvall's golem. Bartimaeus had to have Kitty Jones attack the golem in the second book, because he could not get close to the golem.

Animating Parchment

A magical scroll inscribed with an ancient, secret Czech spell. The spell must be written with equal parts ink and blood, and a small square is made at the bottom, where the user of the golem signs his name using his own blood. It is implied that whoever signs their name in that box is the only person able to control the golem. The golem's scroll is placed inside a golem's body, which animates the golem. When a golem's scroll is removed from a golem's mouth, the scroll disintegrates, and the golem returns to its owner to "die", or collapse into a pile of mud.

Seven-League Boots

These are magical talismans, allowing people to travel great distances in a few steps. They are activated by a single, magical command. They can be used to appear and disappear from numerous situations and scenes without leaving a trace. When Nathaniel retrieved them, they were part of his key plan to destroy Nouda and the other Hybrids. The pair that was worn by Verroq was destroyed (or at least unfindable) when Nathaniel broke Gladstone's Staff's bonds. They are alleged to work by using contained Djinn that travel on a hypothetical 8th plane, where they use their powers to warp space.

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Unofficial Forum]


* The Amulet of Samarkand ISBN 0552552577
* The Golem's Eye ISBN 038560615X
* Ptolemy's Gate ISBN 0385608683

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