Sabriel, by Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #1
Published by Harper Collins, 1st January 2002 (originally published May 1995)
Genres: Fantasy, adventure, magic, young adult
Sabriel grew up in the relative safety of a girls’ boarding school in Ancelstierre, far from the dangers of the Old Kingdom. Her father, the mage called Abhorsen, only visits occasionally as he has a very demanding job; making sure the Dead stay dead.
Upon receiving a message from her father, Sabriel must journey into the Old Kingdom and the unknown to face her destiny.
I haven’t read any fantasy recently, although this is a genre that I love. My lovely mother in law to-be gave me this copy of Sabriel, as she and her daughter love this series. And I am very thankful that she did because I loved this book.
However, I found it a little hard to get into at first. There is a lot of terminology and storyline which is thrown at the reader early on and it took me a little while to figure out the significance of everything.
But once I got into the story, I was fully invested and could hardly put the book down. I know that some people don’t like to read young adult books, because the language may be a little too simple for their taste, or a number of other reasons. But I disagree. I enjoy YA books and I loved this one!
Sabriel is a relatable protagonist and a reluctant heroine, readily admitting her flaws, fears and feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy. She does not feel that she is ready to take on this role which everyone assumes she must. However, she does achieve some incredible things with the help of some faithful characters, who help her to believe in herself and her talents.
The magic in this world is very imaginatively described and all the fearsome creatures are really very dreadful. You can feel the fear and horror from the protagonists as they face these apparitions.
I may be wrong, but to me, the separation of Sabriel’s world into Ancelstierre and the old Kingdom reminded me of the Romans trying to keep out the Picts, by means of Hadrian’s wall (between modern-day England and Scotland). There is even a huge wall marking the divide! What is also striking is the difference in technology and advancements between the two worlds, much like I imagine there was between the mighty Roman empire and the relatively primitive Pictish clans.
I loved this book and I am already looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Maybe someone lovely will gift them to me for Christmas… who knows!
My rating: 4/5
PS: I’m not engaged, so she’s not technically my mother in law to-be, but hopefully someday. And I don’t know how else to refer to her.