A magician's young apprentice, Nathaniel, summons the irascible 5,000-year-old djinni, Bartimaeus (adi), to do his bidding. The task for Bartimaeus is an interesting mission: he must steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a master magician of unrivalled ruthlessness and ambition. Only problem is Bartimaeus couldn't care less for what his (Current) master really wants, only that he has a job to complete (and survive) before he can return to the spirit world again... well that and maybe get even with the annoying little brat who summoned him if get the chance. Before long, Bartimaeus and Nathaniel are caught up in a terrifying flood of magical intrigue, rebellion and murder. Nathaniel learns quickly that he may have gotten into a plot much more in depth than he and his djinni can cope with.