|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.
Two years later, 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. Nathaniel displayed an ambitious and brilliant intellect early on that 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 had hoped that the boy become unlike the rest of the magicians.
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. With his increasing power both as a magician and a politician, he became vain and arrogant.
By book 3, Nathaniel was as ambitious as ever though he still has empathy towards people. He did not agree to torture (he thought at first that Quentin Makepeace's experiment to a commoner was torture). Nathaniel's inner conflicts were triggered when he encountered again the people whom he met when he was young - Kitty, and Ms. Lutyens. He recalled the selfless act of Kitty Jones who saved him from the Golem. He briefly met his former tutor Ms. Lutyens who mentioned Mandrake's downfall, as a person, from Nathaniel. And there's Bartmaeus who complained about Nathaniel's life decisions among many the djinn spoke of. He began to question his paths and ambition.
The old Nathaniel's sense of morality and honor would eventually transform him into the selfless magician during the Makepeace government takeover. He would refuse to join and decide to fight against the involved magicians. The Makepeace government takeover would quickly become the Spirit Revolt. And Nathaniel would now 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 agreed for Bartimaeus to possess him with both of them in control of one body which shows that peace can co-exist between the two kinds.
He saved Kitty's life, but, with a lie.
In the final battle against Nouda, Nathaniel and Bartimaeus were both exhausted (both already weak before merging) and both prepared to die for their plan to work. In a final act of goodness, Nathaniel released Bartimaeus just as Ptolem did.
By the end of the Trilogy, Nathaniel displays not only a conscientious regard for the lives and well-being of commoners, magicians, and demons, but also a willingness to lay his own life down to save them.