Really excellent children's/YA fantasy. I've seen some reviews that criticize it for a lack of likeable characters, but I have to disagree. Granted, most of the characters are at least slightly despicable, but Nathaniel has some heart (along with pride, ego, envy, and vengefulness.) And Bartimaeus is just hilarious. Who can blame him for all his prickly thoughts about those who enslave him? Stroud handles everything well--characterization, plot, action, creating a cohesive fantasy world, description. Loved it.