|Also known as||
|Behind the scenes|
Nathaniel (born in 1988, chosen name John Mandrake) is one of three main protagonists in the Bartimaeus Trilogy. He changes drastically throughout the books, going from an innocent child, to an arrogant magician, and finally to a selfless young man. In Ptolemy's Gate, Nathaniel is said to be, with the exception of Jessica Whitwell, the most powerful magician in all of London.
Nathaniel was born to unknown parents, and then, at the tender age of five, sent to live with the middle class magician Arthur Underwood as part of a government program.
At the age of 12, Nathaniel summoned the spirit, Bartimaeus, to do his bidding for him. Initially, he was very afraid, due to knowing the djinni's background, but also due to his appearance. After confirming Bartimaeus' identity, Nathaniel charged him with obtaining the Amulet of Samarkand from the house of Simon Lovelace. Although the djinni was skeptical at first, he eventually left, before Nathaniel could inflict the Systemic Vise on him. At some point, he met Kitty Jones, the mysterious young girl who took his Scrying Glass. Later, he and the djinn saved the Prime Minister and other members of the parliament when Simon Lovelace summoned Ramuthra to kill them.
At the end of Book 1, Nathaniel was propelled to a position of favor and admiration. In Book 2, his talent and career bolted under the personal watch of both Rupert Devereaux and Jessica Whitwell.
He summoned Bartimaeus again to aid solving the Golem case. By this time, the resistance was simultaneously causing trouble around London. Kitty Jones, through the guidance of Bartimaeus, would stop the Golem and save Nathaniel. Nathaniel and Bart solved the case and he was rocked to learn that Kitty had "died" to save him.
Later, when Nathaniel was seventeen, he would meet again Kitty Jones who he would found connection with. They both landed in the middle of Quentin Makepeace's scheme, in which Nathaniel decided to let go completely of his magician ambitions and be the better man. Nathaniel summoned his djinni, Bartimaeus, into his body (initially unwillingly, as it was Kitty who convinced both of them to do so) and acquired Gladstone's staff. He slew Nouda and the other demon-human hybrids, but died in the process as the Glass Palace collapsed on him. At the very end, he gave Bartimaeus' freedom, mirroring the sacrifice of Ptolemy. But in the process, broke his promise of return to Kitty.
Nathaniel is descibed as pale, thin, and dark haired, wearing a suit in all but the first book. He has blue eyes and is once referred to as the PM's "blue-eyed boy." In The Golem's Eye, he wears, in Bartimaeus' words, a "flouncy red hankerchief", extremely tight trousers, and his hair long. At this point in his life, Nathaniel is described as very aesthetically concerned, which is consistent with the materialistic society of magicians around him.
In contrast, in Ptolemy's Gate he has his hair cut short (as a nod to the soldiers fighting in the current war) and no tie.
Character Arc Edit
Nathaniel, from a young age, was fully immersed within the philosophy and worldview of the average British magician. Consequently, he began his life with the disposition of a traditional apprentice: selfish, arrogant, and naïve. His ambitions and brilliance motivated much of his personal development. His encounters with the djinni Bartimaeus, the Resistance, and the destruction of Underwood's house were all initiated by a plot that Nathaniel hatched to avenge himself on the magician Simon Lovelace.
However, several factors affected Nathaniel in ways that most magician apprentices were not. Martha Underwood, his first master's wife, took the role of a surrogate mother in his life. She showered the young boy with attention and kindness and called him by his birth name, allowing the boy's morality and sense of loyalty remain intact (to some extent). Ms. Lutyens, the boys commoner tutor, also referred to him by his name. She was cheery and positive and showed the boy empathy. Bartimaeus too noticed the boy's difference among magicians and gave the young magician some advice.
Many years of employment in the government had consumed Nathaniel and he became a "magician", ambitious and power-hungry. He was known to most as John Mandrake and he lived the name.
But for a top magician, John Mandrake did his work thinking that his work was for the good of the country. Which showed he still had sense of good albeit a little skewed for he believed in the power of magicians.
Mandrake's inner conflicts were triggered when he encountered again the people whom he met when he was young - Kitty, Ms. Lutyens, and Bartimaeus. He recalled Kitty Jones who against all reason saved him from the Golem. He briefly crossed-paths with his former tutor Ms. Lutyens who hinted her disappointment of Nathaniel becoming John Mandrake. And there's Bartmaeus who complained about Nathaniel's life decisions among many the djinn spoke of.
Nathaniel's sense of morality and honor would finally return due to further interactions with Kitty and Bart. He would refuse to join the magicians involved in Quentin Makepeace's government turnover, and would actually fight against them. The Makepeace scheme would quickly take a turn to become the Spirit Revolt. And Nathaniel now had to fight for the safety of the people. He had told Kitty to call him by his real name of Nathaniel, an act which parallels his decision to be the honorable human.
He later agreed, with the urging of Kitty, for Bartimaeus to possess him with both of them in control of one body. The process was successful which shows that peace can co-exist between the two kinds. In a way, he became the person that symbolizes Kitty's aspirations to achieve (peace in and between the two kinds) from the person that symbolizes Kitty's aspirations to end (magician rule and spirit enslavement). And for Bart, that Nathaniel's actions had honoured and realized the sacrifices of Ptolemy.
In the end, Nathaniel's conscientious regard for the lives and well-being of commoners, magicians, and demons had saved them in exchange of his life.