Jul 16, 2011

Sabriel, by Garth Nix

Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 496
Opinion: 10/10
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Fiction
Number: First in the series
Series: 1-Sabriel, 2-Lirael, 3-Abhorsen
Person: Second
Tense: Past

Blurb (quoted): "Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorsen, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face to face with her own hidden destiny."
Summary: Sabriel is only a teenage girl, but her heritage and untimely events force the girl to travel ‘across the wall’ from Ancelstiere into The Old Kingdom, a world of magical creatures and ‘the charter’, which makes up all that is. Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, and upon her father’s disappearance must take his place. The abhosren is a necromancer (someone who may walk in death and return to life at will) who uses the charter (magic) to keep The Old Kingdom safe from evil creatures.
Sabriel finds her father’s house and his talking cat: Mogget, a forced-servant of all abhorsen’s, who helps her to try find her missing father. Along the way, Sabriel comes to learn how to use her new bandolier of bells (magic bells to control the dead) and the danger her life is now in, for The Old Kindom is basically run by the dead! She also happens upon and saves the last remaining descendant of the royal blood line (therefore, the heir to the throne): Touchstone.
She soon finds herself facing a great evil: one of the greater dead, Kerrigor, who happens to be the enemy of Touchstone.
Sabriel, Mogget and Touchstone are forced to face an army of dead – with the help of her dead-but-temporarily-brought-back-to-life father.
“Does the walker choose the path, or does the path choose the walker?”
Judgement:  Well-written and enticing, Sabriel is a great read for all fantasy lovers. Definitely one of my favourite books now, it kept me glued the whole way through and left me desperate for the next book in the series.
The only thing I can complain about is that it has so much detail and factors that it’s incredibly hard to sum up and I don’t like the summary I’ve written. Despite this, the book is incredibly easy to read, remember, and follow – except – for me at least – when it comes to the seven names and uses of ‘the bells’, which I found hard to remember. And I’m very grateful for the map in the front of the books; it is the first novel with a map where I’ve actually used it and found it interesting to follow the characters journey.
It’s a truly magical book that, despite the danger, makes any reader want to visit! The story seems almost real and the writing pulls you into the moment, and the real world around you just seems to fade away.
My favourite aspect would have to be how magic is restricted to The Old Kingdom, and ‘across the wall’, in Ancelstiere and further it is a normal, perfectly average world.
Some may think it’s quite a long book, but believe me, if it were any shorter then it just wouldn’t be as good; there is no way to shorten it and I wouldn’t want to! I wished it would go on and on.
Definitely a favourite book, and one I highly recommend!

Characters: deep, well developed characters are what make a story, and Sabriel sure has it! With a range of personalities, conflicts, dramas, and friendships, it’s a great story. There weren’t too many characters, there weren’t too many details; they were well described and definitely evolved through the story, though perhaps it could have used another character continuously present to antagonize?
Effect: If you want to be emotionless and not get attached, this isn’t for you. The characters seem to become your friends and the storyline lifts and crushes your heart with the ups and downs of the storyline – it’s impossible to remain indifferent.

NOTE: Sabriel MAY be coming soon in movie form!

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