Clariel, by Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #4
Published by Hot Key Books, 14th October 2014
Genres: Fantasy, young adult
The events of this book take place roughly 600 years before those in Sabriel. Young Clariel has been forced to leave behind her beloved home on the edge of the Great Forest, to move to the city of Belisaere. Her mother’s career advancements, and possible opportunities for Clariel herself, do not interest her, however. All she can think about is escaping and returning to the forest. She believes that only there will she be happy and lead a fulfilled life.
But forces are stirring which will change the course of Clariel’s life beyond her dreams. In a world where those responsible for law, order and otherworldly protection have been shirking their duties, uncertainty reigns. The ambitious circle, as does a mysterious Free Magic being. Clariel must soon choose her path, but will it be the right one?
I was really interested to read this prequel to the Abhorsen series, but I wasn’t blown away by it. Once again, Garth Nix has outdone himself in creating a colourful and magical world. Whereas Lireal developed the world of the Clayr, in Clariel we learn about the city of Belisaere and how it is organised. We also learn more about the Old Kingdom and the earlier Abhorsens.
All of this was very interesting, but I found the character of Clariel hard to believe in. She seems quite childishly obsessed with just getting back to her forest and believes everything will be fine if she does. Given everything that is going on around her, this does not seem like a very realistic goal and I got a bit tired of it.
For quite a long time I was confused as to where the story was going. I had read about two thirds, and there still seemed to be a lot to resolve. I just couldn’t see how there would be time to actually reach a satisfactory conclusion which would lead into the storyline of the first three books. It eventually became clear, but I found it hard going getting to that point.
Overall, however, I did enjoy this book and it provides some more context to the earlier books. I will say that of all the books, this one read most as a young adult book.
My rating: 4/5