- "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 as a gargoyle
|Also known as||
Rekhyt of Alexandria
Bartimaeus of Uruk is an ancient djinni of the fourteenth level in book 1 and 4th level in books 2 and 3. He had served many well-known masters throughout his 5000 years or so of history. Acclaimed and accomplished, his egotistic nature has much to boast about.
Bartimaeus has survived for millennia largely due to his quick wit, resourcefulness, guile and a fair amount of luck. He is referred to in Trismegistus' Manual as having "great ingenuity", having "no little power", and "dangerous".
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 of 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.
Personality and Character ArcEdit
Bartimaeus is an intelligent djinni who is with great wits, but often lapses into sarcasm. He generally brags about himself and downplays other spirits (whether they are stronger than him or not, although certain spirits even he admits are stronger than him). Bartimaeus' witty personality often puts him at odds with other spirits.
He boasts about his achievements and accomplishments in his long career. But his millennia of servitude to magicians also gave him his cynicism towards the possibility of ending the spirit-slavery.
Bartimaeus had done cruel deeds to people; his masters, to escape slavery; and others only implied (in wars, etc.) for he was ordered to. But, he has nothing against commoners, displaying a side of him that is slightly sympathetic and benevolent to humans.
His uniqueness as a spirit is that he is open-minded about humans and he is able to separate a morally good human from a morally bad one. While spirits in the books, apart from a select few, loath magicians especially their masters who enslave them and are apathetic to commoners.
Chronologically, Bart first showed open-mindedness when he spared Asmira who he thought would be morally good enough to win him his freedom. He would grow to care for the girl and they'd separate as friends.
Then Ptolemy (see Ptolemy's page for his deeds) whose peculiar attitude towards spirits summoned Bart and gave the djinni hopes of a possible conciliation between humans and spirits. Ptolemy and his summoned spirits developed a deep relationship of love, trust, and loyalty. However, Ptolemy and his spirits were attacked. And only Bartimaeus survived because of Ptolemy. For more than 2000 years, he wore the guise of Ptolemy in respect for the boy's deeds; For more than 2000 years, no one followed Ptolemy's examples which fueled Bart's cynicism; And for more than 2000 years, no magician ever wondered why a djinni's favourite guise is a young Egyptian boy; until Kitty.
2000+ years later, Nathaniel, a young magician, summoned Bart. Bart in his sarcastic and witty way showed compassion for the boy from time to time and gave the boy some advice. As Nathaniel was becoming John Mandrake, Bart continuously threw negative comments about the boy's life-path of becoming a great magician. Affections between the two were hinted and later, without a word, confirmed.
And then there's Kitty, who Bart had also seen the potential for good. He cared for the girl's welfare. She made efforts to learn about Bart and Ptolemy. And she made a gesture that gained again the spirit's full trust. Kitty and Nathaniel's act would symbolize that Ptolemy's work and sacrifice were not in vain.
Despite Bartimaeus' assertion that spirits do not develop strong ties of friendship or loathing because of continually changing allegiances, Bartimaeus has shown dislike towards Faquarl, who himself has, on tried to kill Bartimaeus on numerous times.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Like all djinn, Bartimaeus has its strengths and weaknesses. (see Spirits)
Bartimaeus's greatest asset is his cunning intelligence. His power is significantly exceeded by Faquarl and Jabor; and, he would certainly lose if he fought anyone of them head-on. Yet Bart was able to defeat Jabor, a not so smart djinni, through planned sets of moves. And he survived clashes with Faquarl, also an intelligent and cunning djinni, throughout history by luck or by smarts or both.
And since Bartimaeus is prone to boasting, the nature of the accounts he gives of his various victories is not completely believable. During an account of his final conversation with Ptolemy, he mentions that he has 'taken out six djinns at once'. At book 3, he claims he defeated the afrit, Tchue.
Displays of Power Edit
He has 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 recover quickly enough and being his usual cocky "don't-care" self, which often results in the magician giving Bartimaeus another dose of the Stimulating Compass, thus shocking him repeatedly until Bartimaeus calmed down.
The Evasive Cartwheel: supposedly invented by Bartimaeus circa 2800 BC. Described as his keynote evasive manoeuvre 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:
- A handsome and shirtless muscular guy, with messy brown hair, who wears only a pair of blue ripped jeans, belted at the waist, and nothing else
- 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/lioness
- A grinning skull
- Ptolemy (most common form)
- 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 of al-Arish
- N'gorso the Mighty
- Rekhyt of Alexandria
- Serpent of Silver Plumes
- Necho of Jerusalem
- Wakonda of the Algonquin
- Wolf-Jawed Guardian
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.
Before the Books Edit
Bartimaeus was first summoned on 3010 in Ur, Sumer. More of his early adventures can be viewed in A Bartimaeus Chronology.
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 embarrasses him in front of the King himself, he sends Bartimaeus to patrol the desert for bandits. One day, after Bartimaeus finds some murdered travellers, 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 sceptical, 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 arrived 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 hidden 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 djinns 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 the death of Genghis 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 number of enemies.
By contrast, some even he honoured and respected; for example his greatest friend of the ages, Ptolemy, who believed in his goal with a passion that charmed even the wizened and sceptical 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 djinns 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 enmity 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 Ammet for his crimes against Ammet's master, Khaba. Upon Khaba's bidding, Ammet gleefully imprisoned Bartimaeus in a bottle, but not before Bartimaeus destroyed Khaba's essence cages. Bartimaeus was later freed and took revenge upon Ammet 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 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 honour 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 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 differences, and there is grudging respect between the two.