The first book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy was my least favourite of the three, but is necessary to read to understand the rest of the books (Which are Awesome!). Unlike most series, the main character goes through little character development in the first book. Nathaniel's character progression happens over all three, which I found interesting. All in all I felt this book, despite having a plot and major story line of its own, was more of an introduction to the world, Nathaniel, and his abilities. Nathaniel lives in a world where Magicians rule and commoners are looked down on. The Magician world is full of greed, deceit, and power and Nathaniel is at risk of becoming like that as well. Already it's started to take hold, but Nathaniel still has some values that he relies on.
At first glance the story appears to be quite shallow, simply about the Magician's world and Nathaniel's revenge. However, when all three books are read many more deeper themes become apparent. Many of these themes I didn't even notice till I took the time to analyse the book and write this review. To really get the full meaning behind the books you must step away and look at the trilogy as a whole, not as individual books. Forget the jokes and end of the world scenarios (which I got a little tired of to be honest) and see that the three books together were really one story of the downfall of greed, hate, and dishonour. How they told Nathaniel's story of becoming someone of honour.
I loved this series and while this book alone wasn't that great, the next two books and the trilogy as a whole were fantastical.