Nathaniel (Bartimaeus trilogy)

Nathaniel is a character in Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy. Nathaniel is one of the main characters of this series. After coming of age as a magician when he was 12 years old, he was granted the new name of John Mandrake, and is known by this name to everyone but the title character, Bartimaeus and in the later part of Ptolemy's Gate to Kitty.



In The Amulet of Samarkand he is described as being small and scrawny with dark hair. His hair, as he increases in rank, becomes increasingly long, but during the gap between The Golem's Eye and Ptolemy's Gate he has opted for a crew cut in (politically advantageous) tribute to the soldiers fighting in America. He is further described as attractive, with "the scent of power [hanging] around him" and of medium height and slender build, his forehead prematurely lined (Ptolemy's Gate, U.S. Edition, pg. 21).


Nathaniel is, at first, a small, shy boy uncomfortable with anyone who is not Mrs. Underwood or Ms. Lutyens. He is very nervous and scared by Bartimaeus when he first summons the demon. As the books progress, and he becomes more and more proficient, he also becomes more confident, and possibly overconfident. He works fervently when motivated, as is shown when he furthers his education with incredible speed in The Amulet of Samarkand. Throughout the books he also shows signs of ambition to rise through the ranks of the government, a common goal among magicians. Bartimaeus compares him more than once to Simon Lovelace, as they share a similar mindset, and habitual tics, such as stroking back their hair.

Role in books

The Amulet of Samarkand

In The Amulet of Samarkand, Nathaniel starts off as a young boy who, at the age of five, had been given up by his parents to apprenticeship under a mediocre Whitehall magician named Arthur Underwood, the assistant minister of Internal Affairs. Underwood begins teaching the boy in magic, but Nathaniel, being inquisitive, decides to advance his education to higher levels without the knowledge of his tutor.

However, at the age of eleven, in his master's house, Nathaniel is publicly humiliated by a greedy and ambitious young magician named Simon Lovelace. In a fit of juvenile fury, Nathaniel hatches a plan for vengeance. He sets several mites (a weak kind of imp) on Lovelace, but Lovelace is powerful and stops the mites, then proceeds to beat Nathaniel as punishment.

Later, after much research and preparation, Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus, a 5,000-year-old djinni, to exact his revenge on Lovelace. Mrs. Underwood - Nathaniel's master's wife - inadvertently reveals Nathaniel's true name to Bartimaeus. This vastly limits Nathaniel's control over the djinni, because spells can be cast on people when their true name is known (hence the practice of assigning names).

In the end, Nathaniel earns the respect of the majority of the other magicians including Rupert Devereaux, the Prime Minister. He is accepted as a magician in the government.

The Golem's Eye

Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus again, facing off against the Resistance and sinister magicians.

The second book picks up almost three years later and features Nathaniel as a junior magician working his way up the government ranks. He is described as one of the governments' rising young stars. In this book, Kitty Jones is introduced as an important character. She is a part of the Resistance movement, which seeks to end the oppressive rule of the magicians. Nathaniel is tasked by his superiors to crush the Resistance movement and capture the members. His task is complicated when a seemingly invulnerable clay golem starts to make random attacks on London. Much to the displeasure of Bartimaeus, Nathaniel recalls the djinni to aid him in uncovering the origins of the golem, and to save his own skin.

During the course of the book Nathaniel is almost fired from his post and executed for treason. By the end of the book however he has come back to favor when Duvall's conspiracy comes to light.

Ptolemy's Gate

In Ptolemy's Gate, Nathaniel has risen to the ruling Council and is arguably the most powerful magician in the government. He stands against a force of hybrid magicians with spirits trapped inside them, led by Nouda. Romantic feelings are hinted at in the book at various points between Kitty and himself. Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus into his body to help fight the Hybrids with Gladstone's staff, and destroys most of them, leaving only Nouda alive. However, during this fight, Nathaniel is seriously injured and he loses strength quickly, even with Bartimaeus' assistance. When Nathaniel and Bartimaeus confront Nouda, Nathaniel dismisses Bartimaeus which saves Baritmaeus just prior to the staff being destroyed killing both Nouda and Nathaniel. Bartimaeus returned to the Other Place, but is known to have survived; according to his "journal", he was summoned by a female magician with a stutter afterwards. Kitty, in the end, goes visit her old friend Jakob before she begins to travel around the world in a new life.


  • Nathaniel's chosen magician name, John Mandrake, may be a reference to the popular comic strip and real life magician, Mandrake the Magician
  • Nathaniel's birthday is on November 26, as confirmed by the author.

External links


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