An upper middling urbane fantasy story. The setting is a 1900's alt-London that is ruled over by jerk mages. The magic in the story is semi-Vancian; the mages do not cast spells themselves, rather they use true-names to summon and enslave the djinns/demons who do the magical heavy lifting. So far so nice. The story has two PoV characters; one is a an apprentice summoner and budding jerk, the other is a djinn with a heart of gold (Bartimaeus). Bartimaeus is by far the better character, he has most of the adventures and cleverness and insight and humor. If there's one criticism I'd make of him, it is that he's not *quite* as tricky/self-interested/vengeful as he really should be. Like he's an 8, but he should really be an 11. The summoner, Nathan***, is a sort of moderately talented young republican, and he kicks things off through a misguided quest to revenge a personal slight. On the way they both meet complications and end up facing off against a plot against the jerk government of Great Jerk Britain.
From just the first book, it's unclear where exactly the trilogy is going. The book is fairly clear that most of the mages are terrible people, lacking even the out-sized chutzpah and rhetoric of Vance's mages. But at the same time, 90% of the named characters are mages. So as the reader you are kind of ok with all of the named humans in the story dying. On the other hand, the book is fast paced and inventive enough that you can largely ignore such high level concerns while the plot and world building unfolds. The author consistently picks the right level of pacing and detail and (quality) description. Not to spoil things too much, but I particularly liked the sensory descriptions and inventiveness of the final conflict. Anyway! It's a clever and well crafted start to a series that I would enjoy exploring further. I'd like to see where he takes the series.