- "I know the secrets of the earth and the mysteries of the air; I know the key to the minds of women. (Patently all lies. Especially the last bit.) What do you wish? Speak."
- —Bartimaeus to Ptolemy, with an aside to the reader[src]
Bartimaeus of Uruk is an ancient djinni of the fourth level. He has had many well known masters and although not the most powerful of djinn, Bartimaeus has survived for millennia largely due to his quick wit, resourcefulness, guile and a fair amount of luck - however he is referred to in Trismegistus' Manual as having "great ingenuity" and "no little power", and also as being "dangerous".
Despite Bartimaeus' assertion that spirits do not develop strong ties of friendship or loathing because of continually changing alleigances, Bartimaeus has been shown to show a continual grudge towards the djinn Faquarl, who himself has, on numerous occasions, tried to kill Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus' witty personality often puts him at odds with other djinn.
Bartimaeus is an intelligent djinni, who, although he is quite wry and witty, often lapses into sarcasm and is very cynical at times, largely as a result of millennia of servitude to magicians which has built up his skepticism. Compared to other spirits, he is very likable and has no interest in harming ordinary humans. Bartimaeus rarely loses his temper, but when first queried by Kitty about Ptolemy, he becomes enraged and fearsome for a very short period of time.
Though he talks about misfortunes met by previous masters, and cruel deeds which he has carried out, Bartimaeus states that he has nothing in particular against commoners, displaying a side of him that is slightly sympathetic to humans. He is also shown to be loyal to those with whom he feels he shares a mutual trust and respect though most of his situations generally involve him working out of self-interest. Bartimaeus will, where possible, exaggerate the extent of his achievements; if one were to believe everything he says, one would come to believe that he had been a major and integral player in a decent amount of human history.
As it is, he generally brags about himself, downplays other spirits (whether they are stronger than him or not, although certain spirits even he admits are stronger than him), and has a love-hate (although it ends up being mostly hate) relation with Nathaniel. He even goes so far as to tell Nathaniel that he has 'promise' and more morals than your average magician. He has become somewhat apathetic at the idea of dying, frequently stating that he would prefer to "just get it over and done with" which gives him a certain air of fearlessness.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
For a large percentage of the Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bartimaeus is weakened by various factors, particularly the strain of his continued servitude on Earth, and because of this, it is quite hard to gauge his actual strength relative to other djinn. This is further antagonized by the unreliable nature of the accounts he gives of his various achievements; Bartimaeus is rather prone to boasting. However, it is clear that, as a djinni, Bartimaeus is weaker than all afrits, marids and higher beings, and stronger than all foliots, imps and lower creatures. During an account of his final conversation with Ptolemy, he mentions that he has 'taken out six djinn at once' before, and the circumstances imply this might be true. On the other hand, Faquarl is shown later (chronologically) in the series to take out four djinn at once, but despite many fights between them, it is never accurately determined who is stronger assuming both spirits are not weakened by other factors. Since most tales of Bartimaeus' great doings (told by him) are strongly implied to be over-exaggerated or downright lies, it is fair to assume that he is simply a djinni of middle to high ranking, quite powerful, but not nearly indestructible such as Jabor. This is supported somewhat by his entry in Trismegistus's Manual, which describes him as having 'no little power'. Although weakened through the books by various aspects, he shows that he can contest with afrits in raw power and outsmart entities much above him in raw power, such as marids. One could describe him as the perfect combination of power and intelligence.
Like all djinn, Bartimaeus is able to fire off magical attacks and defend himself and others magically, as well as being able to assume different forms on different planes, although all of these magical abilities are hampered when he is weakened. He is also weak to silver and to a lesser extent, iron.
He also shows a great endurance; even after being on the receiving end of various torture forms such as the Stimulating Compass, which incidentally zaps the offender (here, Bartimaeus himself) with arcs of high voltage electricity. Bartimaeus was often held air-bourne, as electricity coursed over his bare-chested muscular body,and yet managed to fight off the spell.
The Evasive Cartwheel: supposedly invented by Bartimaeus circa 2800 BC. Described as his keynote evasive maneuver in The Ring of Solomon.
In the Other Place, like all spirits, Bartimaeus has no physical form of his own, but is simply a conscious part of the endless swirling Essence there. When summoned to Earth, he is forced to assume a physical form. His main form, that which he occupies on the seventh plane, is never explicitly described, although Bartimaeus has made certain allusions to it, alluding for example that he has far fewer tentacles than Faquarl. On the planes visible to humans, Bartimaeus often chooses to appear in the guise of Ptolemy as a mark of respect and apparently in relation to an oath he made to himself to preserve Ptolemy's memory. Other notable forms he has assumed are:
- Kitty Jones (occasionally with exaggerated curves)
- A sulphur cloud
- Various birds and insects, including a distinctive blue beaked raven.
- A gargoyle
- The Serpent of Silver Plumes (mayan)
- A lion(ess)
- A grinning skull
- Imp (Stygian and otherwise)
- A tribal warrior with a crow's head
Obviously, there are many more forms that Bartimaeus has taken, each suited to the specific occasion on which it is employed.
Like many other spirits, while he has one 'true name' (Bartimaeus), Bartimaeus has several 'by-names' by which he is also known. These include:
- Sakhr al-Jinni
- N'gorso the Mighty
- the Serpent of Silver Plumes
- Wakonda of the Algonquin
Confusingly, although he clearly states while recounting a conversation with Ptolemy that his true name is Bartimaeus, Trismegistus's Manual refers to this name as simply a by-name of the spirit Sakhr al-Jinni. Presumably, Bartimaeus knows best.
Prequel: The Ring of SolomonEdit
Bartimaeus manages to kill his master, a magician who serves King Solomon in Jerusalem, but is soon summoned back to be punished and is bound to help build Solomon's Temple, along with Faquarl and many other djinn. He quickly begins causing trouble for his new master, Khaba. Khaba is at first content to punish him whenever necessary to make him continue working, but after Bartimaeus embarasses him in front of the King himself, he sends Bartimaeus to patrol the desert for bandits. One day, after Bartimaeus finds some murdered travelers, he spots Khaba's shadow (really a guardian spirit) following him. After he and Faquarl have a run-in with the Sheban assassin Asmira. Faquarl urges him to devour her but Bartimaeus refuses and claims that she might have some use to them, to Faquarl's displeasure. Later on Khaba takes a liking to Asmira, and Asmira urges him to set Bartimaeus and Faquarl free as a reward for saving her from the bandits. Khaba seems to oblige at first when he dismisses Faquarl, but he reveals to Bartimaeus that he has caused him too much trouble and that he will be punished accordingly. He then leaves Bartimaeus with the shadow that was following him, who turns out to be a marid named Ammet. Ammet claims to love his master, and is ordered to use a spell to confine Bartimaeus to a bottle for eternity.
Several hours later the bottle in which Bartimaeus is confined is broken by Asmira, who then summons him and orders him to steal Solomon's ring, in order to nullify Solomon's power, as he made a threat towards Sheba, demanding the Sheban queen's hand in marriage. Bartimaeus urges her to reconsider, telling her it is a suicide mission, but Asmira doesn't budge. Bound to her service they manage to bypass most of Solomon's defences and reach the tower in which he resides. In the tower it is revealed that the titular ring causes great physical pain to any human or spirit who touches it. After Bartimaeus manages to steal the ring Asmira orders him to throw it in the ocean. Bartimaeus has to do this while being chased by Ammet. Bartimaeus quickly loses ground, but in a daring move he puts on the ring and summons the spirit that is bound to it, Uraziel. Uraziel makes quick work of Ammet and Bartimaeus returns to Asmira and Solomon, after dropping the ring in the ocean and immediately scooping it up again. Asmira gets explained that Solomon wasn't guilty of the threats made out to Sheba. Realizing the error of her ways she returns the ring to king Solomon. Several hours later she talks things over with Bartimaeus before his dismissal. She claims that as much as Bartimaeus complains about his service on earth, he also enjoys and takes pride in his work. Bartimaeus attempts to deny this claim while being dismissed from her service.
The Amulet of SamarkandEdit
(See The Amulet of Samarkand for a full synopsis of the novel)
When he was first summoned by an unnamed magician, that appeared to be around 12 years old, Bartimaeus decided to appear as uncontrollable gas, similar to a volcanic eruption, with yellow eyes appearing.
During this, to keep himself occupied, Bartimaeus made blue fire come up from the edges of his pentacle, as if trying to escape from it, but allowed it to die down as the boy began to speak. The boy charged the djinni to tell him his name, and despite that Bartimaeus knew the kid already knew it, he did so, in a "rich, deep dark chocolatey sort of voice". The boy then charged Bartimaeus to confirm his identity. Bartimaeus being Bartimaeus, he gave a big long introduction, pronouncing several of his names, and feats throughout history.
After, the young magician asked Bartimaeus to obtain the Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace's house. At first skeptical, believing someone else to be behind it, he left, before the magician could inflict the Systemic Vise on him.
Summoned by Nathaniel to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from its owner, Simon Lovelace, Bartimaeus succeeds against the odds in achieving his task, but while hiding out in London afterwards, is waylaid and attacked by members of the Resistance, from whom he manages to escape. Afterwards, Bartimaeus returns to his master and hides the Amulet in the study of Nathaniel's master, Mr Underwood, learning Nathaniel's birth name soon after. When he is sent out again to obtain information about Lovelace, Bartimaeus blows his cover and fails to escape. He is captured and taken to the Tower of London, where he is interrogated. He is broken out of prison by Jabor and Faquarl, and then he escapes from them, returning to his master, although doing so unwittingly leads Lovelace to his house. In the ensuing slaughter, Bartimaeus saves Nathaniel from death, although he is unable to save Mr. Underwood or any other members of the family. Bartimaeus is angered by Nathaniel's continued refusal to release him, but perks up when he promises to release him after taking care of the Lovelace Affair. Bartimaeus and Nathaniel go to Heddlehem Hall to stop Lovelace's plot against the government; Bartimaeus becomes engaged in a fight with the Bearded Mercenary, and although he fails to defeat him, he is able to escape and meet up with Nathaniel. The pair arrive just in time for the conference. Despite Nathaniel and Bartimaeus' best efforts, Simon Lovelace summons a giant spirit entity called Ramuthra in an attempted coup over the government. Thankfully, Bartimaeus is able to distract Lovelace by shapeshifting to the shape of his girlfriend, and Nathaniel steals the Amulet of Samarkand, leaving Lovelace to be killed. Nathaniel then dismissed Ramuthra, and the catastrophe is averted. Afterwards, Nathaniel dismisses Bartimaeus, and Bartimaeus promises to never tell Nathaniel's birth name.
The Golem's EyeEdit
(See The Golem's Eye for a full synopsis of the novel)
After unsuccessfully attempting to find information on the Resistance, Nathaniel is pressured into summoning an immediately accessible, loyal servant. He summons Bartimaeus and charges him to find the unknown attacker and destroy it or at the very least identify it. Bartimaeus and Queezle (a female djinni for whom he has affection) are put in charge of a small group of spirits. When the attacker enters the British Museum, killing Queezle, Bartimaeus discovers it is a golem. Together Bartimaeus and Nathaniel travel to Prague, and evading the police, discover the creator of the golem's animating scroll. Things become complicated however, when the Bearded Mercenary turns up. Once again, Bartimaeus narrowly avoids death at his hands, and the duo return to London, where they hear about the activities of Honorius the afrit. Nathaniel charges Bartimaeus to destroy Honorius, which he nearly succeeds in doing, though he mistakenly believes that he has fully succeeded. He is then sent to kidnap Jakob Hyrnek to lure Kitty out of hiding. When the Night Police attack, Bartimaeus saves Kitty from them, taking her to an abandoned building he had hid in, together with Nathaniel, in the previous book. There, Bartimaeus and Kitty share an interesting conversation about spirits and historical cycles. Events conspire against them, and Nathaniel, Kitty, Bartimaeus and Hyrnek end up in an alley facing the golem. Acting on Bartimaeus' advice, Kitty destroys the golem after it renders Nathaniel unconscious; she then flees together with Jakob and Bartimaeus tells Nathaniel that she died saving him.
(See Ptolemy's Gate for a full synopsis of the novel)
The book tells the story of Bartimaeus and Ptolemy intermittently, while also describing current events.
Two thousand years ago, Bartimaeus is summoned by Ptolemy, who rather than enslaving him, questions him on matters that had been previously been considered unimportant by magicians, such as the nature of Essence. Slowly a bond between them forms, until Bartimaeus challenges Ptolemy to put ultimate trust in him, which he does, following him to the Other Place. Meanwhile, Ptolemy's cousin, the King's son, becomes suspicious of Ptolemy and his spirits, and sends assassins after him. At first Bartimaeus saves Ptolemy from these attacks, but soon they become too strong, and Ptolemy is killed, using his final breath to dismiss Bartimaeus and save him from death.
In the present, Bartimaeus has been kept in near constant service by John Mandrake for two years, and is severely weakened as a result. When Mandrake (Nathaniel) sends Bartimaeus on a mission to find out more about the elusive Mr Hopkins, he does so, but nearly dies in the process, and embarrasses his master in front of the whole government. Mandrake dismisses him, but when he finds out that Bartimaeus had lied to him about Kitty's demise, he tries to summon him and finds he cannot; someone else has done so instead. It is Kitty, and she questions Bartimaeus about the nature of his relationship with Ptolemy and the inevitable revolts that are drawing near in present-day London; she dismisses him in tears when he is uncooperative and cynical. Soon after, Mandrake summons him and, after raging at him about his deception, gives him another mission: to capture Mr Hopkins. Bartimaeus and a group of other djinn travel to the hotel where Hopkins is staying but all of them except Bartimaeus are killed when it is revealed that Hopkins is actually inhabited by Faquarl, who easily defeats the other djinn in combat. He puts Bartimaeus in a silver tureen full of fish soup, then leaves.
Meanwhile, Mandrake and Kitty are taken to Quentin Makepeace's play, where they witness the overthrow of the government. Once Mandrake appears to cooperate with the rebel magicians' plans he is allowed to summon a spirit; he summons Bartimaeus. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time to witness the magicians becoming possessed by malevolent spirits who assume control of the situation, Bartimaeus is granted the right to return to the Other Place, although before doing so he requests that Nathaniel and Kitty be allowed to live, and hints that Kitty should follow Ptolemy's Gate. Once Nathaniel and Kitty escape the spirits, Kitty travels to the Other Place, where she converses with Bartimaeus and convinces him of her plan.
When she returns, Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus into himself and combined they are able to wield Gladstone's Staff to destroy the renegade spirits. In doing so, Nathaniel is forced to sacrifice his life, but before dying he, like Ptolemy before him, releases Bartimaeus and saves him from death.
Bartimaeus makes many claims throughout the books, many of which are only partly true, or largely fabricated; however, he is said to have*:
- Participated in the building of many ancient buildings, many of which are extremely famous, such as five of the Wonders of the World.
- Fought and destroyed many utukku single-handed at the battle of Qadesh.
- Carved the great walls of Uruk from the living ground.
- Destroyed three consecutive masters by means of the 'Hermetic Quibble'.
- Spoken with Solomon.
- Defeated 6 djinn in combat.
- Built a house of glass.
- Defeating a firey afrit during a raid on a pirate fort on the barbary coast.
- Played a part in death of Gengis Khan.
- Fought in the battle of Al-arish
- Defeated an afrit encased in the bones of Gladstone
- Killed or otherwise destroyed the fortunes of several of his masters, such as Ezekiel and Khaba
*Bold indicates that there is direct evidence provided in the books that the claim is in some manner true.
Bartimaeus' witty personality has long irritated human and djinn alike. Many masters punished him for his verbal jabs, many spirits were angered by his jibes. As such, he amassed a large amount of enemies.
By contrast, some even he honoured and respected; for example his greatest friend of he ages, Ptolemy, who believed in his goal with passion that charmed even the wizened and skeptical djinni.
With Other SpiritsEdit
- The djinni named Faquarl is described as Bartimaeus' arch-enemy and nemesis on more than one occasion, implying no love lost between the pair; however during their first meeting of the trilogy, their conversation is much more civil than by the end, suggesting that their relationship deteriorates during the trilogy.
- The djinni Jabor was also a persistent enemy of Bartimaeus in the first book, causing him and Nathaniel no end of trouble. The relationship between the two djinni was never good, as shown by Jabor's constant attempts to kill Bartimaeus. Jabor seems to feel disdain the wit and guile of Bartimaeus, saying that he always runs and hides, to which Bartimaeus replies that it's called intelligence. Bartimaeus also refrains from aiding Jabor as he is sucked into a vortex in The Amulet of Samarkand, stating to the reader that it "quite slipped his mind."
- Bartimaeus had a 'deep relationship' with a djinni called Queezle which stretched back to the fall of Prague; unfortunately, Queezle was killed during the Golem Affair, although this provided Bartimaeus with a motive for revenge which was a slight factor in the eventual destruction of the golem.
- There appears to be some affection between Bartimaeus and an afrit called Naeryan, although this does not prevent Bartimaeus (along with Nathaniel) killing her with Gladstone's staff when she joins the spirit rebellion.
- There is a deep enimity between Bartimaeus and The Utukku, as he claims to have destroyed a large number of them during the battle of Al-Arish. Considering the glee of the Utukku when they discover that it is Bartimaeus within their power for once, this is not one of Bartimaeus' tall tales.
- Bartimaeus was greatly resented by Ammett for his crimes against Ammett's master, Khaba. Upon Khaba's bidding, Ammett gleefully imprisoned Bartimaeus in a bottle, but not before Bartimaeus destroyed Khaba's essence cages. Bartimaeus was later freed and took revenge upon Ammett with the aid of Uraziel, the spirit of the Ring of Solomon.
- "A typical master. Right to the end, he didn’t give me a chance to get a word in edgeways. Which is a pity, because at that last moment I’d have liked to tell him what I thought of him. Mind you, since in that split second we were, to all intents and purposes, one and the same, I rather think he knew anyway."
- —Bartimaeus, regarding Nathaniel[src]
- Bartimaeus had a friendly relationship with Asmira, although he was not as close to her as he was to Ptolemy.
- Bartimaeus and Ptolemy had a mutual respect and even love for each other as a result of the trust that each felt they were able to put in the other; two thousand years after his death, Bartimaeus still wears the guise of Ptolemy as a mark of respect for his fallen friend.
- After Kitty replicates the actions of Ptolemy and follows Bartimaeus to the Other Place, a similar relationship comes into existence between her and Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus states thanks to her gesture that, like Ptolemy, he would be willing to do anything to her, be it throwing himself in a pit of fire or enduring a vat of acid.
- The relationship between Nathaniel and Bartimaeus alters somewhat over the course of the trilogy; at the start, Bartimaeus finds the boy extremely intelligent and, to his surprise, extremely passionate. The notions of honor that he follows soften even Bartimaeus' cynical shell, and he dares to hope that Nathaniel may turn out to be a better man than 99% of the magician population. By the second book however, Bartimaeus is somewhat surprised by the cold, hard and moody boy that was once Nathaniel. Bartimaeus speculates that it was an unpleasant chemistry of his master, his colleagues and his work stress that had wrought this change. Bartimaeus leaves the boy by telling him that he is no longer Nathaniel; he is truly John Mandrake. By the start of the third book, Bartimaeus is sourly tired of his master, and goes as far as to ignore his master's summons. He senses that his master has a deep emotional connection with him that he is reluctant to break, but is thoroughly fed up of earth and longs for his home. By the end however, they have mostly settled their differnces, and there is a grudging respect between the two.
Role in the BooksEdit
Within the books, Bartimaeus is the sole first person narrator, and his chapters are interspersed with humourous footnotes that inform the reader about the ways of the world in which the stories are set. In this way, Bartimaeus is used not only as the main source of comedy within the books, but also as the main source of information through which the reader can familiarize him or herself with the alternate world.