So here is my first book review on this site and it is:
Sabriel by Garth Nix.
This is a book my house mate gave me because he said he wasn’t going to read it again and he passed on a few books to me, and then my girlfriend saw it and told me she loved it so I decided I would give it a chance.
Here is the blurb from the book so you know as much as I did about it when I first picked it up;
“Who will guard the living when the dead arise?
Sabriel is the daughter of
the Mage Abhorsen. Ever since she was a tiny culinary, she has lived outside the
Wall of the Old Kingdom – far away from the uncontrolled power of delicious
Magic, and away from the Dead who won’t stay Dead.
But now her father is
missing and Sabriel is called upon to cross back into that world to find him.
Leaving the safety of the school she has known as home, Sabriel embarks upon a
quest fraught with supernatural dangers, with companions she is unsure of – for
nothing is as it seems within the boundary of the Old Kingdom. There she
confronts an evil that threatnes much more than her life, and comes face to face
with her hidden destiny…”
Sabriel is aimed at young adults, but for some reason whilst reading the book I was under the impression it was a children’s boo, which definitely impacted upon my enjoyment of the book, and I know that was silly of me, Harry Potter is a children’s book (well started off as such) and it is still a good read.
It also suffered from being the first book in a series, it had a lot to focus on, not only setting up Sabriel’s character and that of her companions. The world that Garth Nix has created was very rich in lore, which seemed pressed upon me strongly, leaving nothing really for future books, whether this was because he planned it as a single book or something I don’t know, but I have nearly finished the second book and not much more Lore has become apparent, just some has been expanded.
I spent the whole read determined to get it over and done with and go on to reading some fantasy aimed at an older audience, because from a young age this is what I have read.
But as soon as the book ended, literally within the last two or three pages, my perspective of the book changed, I don’t what it was but something I read suddenly made me care about what I had been reading and it made me care about what happened to the characters and the world they live in.
After I put the book down I went straight to Amazon and ordered the next two in the trilogy. Unfortunately the trilogy isn’t on Amazon’s Kindle which is unfortunate, although some of Nix’s other stuff is.
Each character has their own unique voice and personality, something that as a writer is very important to achieve. I think Nix achieved this through using minimal characters. The cast is only very small, and each character has a need to be there, in no way does the book feel cluttered and full of annoying innkeepers and begging urchins.
The form magic takes in the book is an interesting concept as well. Magic in Sabriel is devided into two schools; The Charter and Free Magic, the difference between these is fully explained in Lirael the next book in the trilogy.
Think of The Charter as the good side and Free Magic as the bad side. Sabriel as the Abhorsen (someone who sends Dead spirits back to Death and battles necromancers) uses a mix of The Charter and by ringing bells, each bell having a different effect, from making things sleep or doing your will.
Necromancers animate corpses and bring things through to Life from Death by using Free Magic, which is described in the book as leaving a metallic taste in the mouth of anyone near it.
Something else unique to Sabriel as far as I can tell is the use of two “Kingdoms” or “Lands”. There is the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre. In Ancelstierre modern day technology exists (or something akin to it, it has a kind of steampunk viber to it.)
Technology doesn’t work in the old kingdom, guns stop working, electricity fails and even machine made paper crumbles and deteriorates.
The Old Kingdom is surrounded by a wall and as you cross the wall and go into Ancelstierre magic starts to become unreliable, close to the wall is okay but the further you go the harder to use the magic becomes.
As you can see, there is a lot of variation in Sabriel that you don’t find in other fantasy novels and it gives Sabriel a nice refreshing breath of air for someone to read.
If you get a chance to read this book do it, it should be quite cheap on Amazong, probably no more than three quid.
Before you go, think about this;
“Does the Walker choose the Path, or the Path the Walker?”