Sabriel (Old Kingdom)

by Garth Nix

Paperback, 1997



Local notes

PB Nix




HarperTeen (1997), Edition: Reprint, 496 pages


Sabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

496 p.; 4.5 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Jenson_AKA_DL
Young Sabriel is ready to leave school, her options open and the future waiting. Until she is visited by a sending from her father who hovers in the gates of death. Now, instead of the future she had thought she wanted Sabriel finds herself returning to her home in the Old Kingdom, a land of magic
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and fantasy, to find her father's body and into death to return his soul. Armed with her magical training and her father's bells and sword Sabriel soon discovers that there may be no future for her other than that which has been passed down to her and a legacy of walking the line between life and death.

This is definitely one of those books that starts of really slow and picks up speed. Although interesting, the book didn't really start for me until about page 75. But then it got really good, certainly making up for the beginning pace and it just kept getting better until the last third where I just didn't want to put the book down.

I felt the fantasy aspect of the curtain between life and death and of those whose sole purpose is to make sure that the souls of the dead get to where they're supposed to be was an intriguing one. I really liked the characters of Mogget who I felt was very unusual and unpredictable and Touchstone who also had a bit of a scary inner thing going on (Don't make him angry, you won't like him when he's angry!) Overall, I felt this was a very readable, non-complex story that picked up nicely with an understandable and unique mythos. I think this would be a great story for those who are missing the Harry Potter books or are looking for something else to read while anxiously waiting for the next Paolini dragon story.
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LibraryThing member Ashles
Sabriel was the first fantasy novel I ever read, and even now, over a decade later, it is still my favorite. In this book and its trilogy Garth Nix has written some of my favorite characters (Mogget!) and created a wonderful and rich world. His awe-inspring descriptions of some of the places in the
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Old Kingdom (and beyond?) stay with me to this day.

I strongly recommend this book to fantasy-lovers, young-adult readers, and (especially!) to young women for the fantastic portrayal of a young woman who puts evil back in its place (not because she is a woman, or in spite of it, but just because she's a strong and amazing person). This was also the first novel I ever read with a strong female protagonist, and I remember being so excited and happy about *finally* reading a book about a girl! Who's tough! Like me! That was a wonderful feeling.
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LibraryThing member richardderus
I don't like fantasy novels much, and this one was no exception. I think the Overuse of Capital Letters in a Non-Ironic Context is tiresome. I think the willefull mispeling of wyrds to make them Magickal is annoying. And this book does both things.

The character Sabriel was a dreary chit of a girl
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Caught Up In Magick She Doesn't Understand. Ugh. She has a familiar...a cat...whose name is Mogget. Oh now really! Why are the servants always named something drear and the aristos something faux lyrical?

I got progressively more and more cranky as we traversed Death, the realm of, looking for and fleeing the Right Evil Kerrigor. I am not patient enough to read this sort of thing. I flipped through the last half of the book and learned that Sabriel has a big surprise up her sleeve for her enemies. And I still didn't care.

I dont know what it is about fantasy novels in general, with a few exceptions, that I find so insufferable. Maybe it's the prevalence of adolescent exceptionalism, and I am long past adolescence. Maybe it's the frequency of those annoying misspellings and capitalizations to make things Unique. Perhaps it's the nakedness of the stealing from the quest myths of yore, more often than not The Holy Grail.

Nix is a competent writer, and there are not many sentences that clang and clunk and make me wince for their structural inelegance. The characters, in so far as they are able, inspire at least muted interest in my unreceptive heart. Three stars from me, for a fantasy novel, should be considered very high praise indeed.

But I want those hours of my reading life back.
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LibraryThing member Pool_Boy
I really enjoyed this. Very quick read, entertaining story that kept my attention, plenty of action. A little too YA at times, but the world created here is just great.
LibraryThing member aleahmarie
Sabriel is excited to be a few weeks from graduation. Her life in the all girls boarding school has been a good one and now she's eager for a chance to broaden her horizons. But when her father, Abhorsen, suddenly goes missing Sabriel realizes that she is the only one who can find him. Her father
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isn't just any man. Abhorsen is the world's greatest defense against the Dead and their insatiable desire is to claw their way back into Life. With his absence, Sabriel begins to learn about the heavy responsibility that comes with being Abhorsen.

What a fun story, can't believe I'm just now discovering it. Reminds me of Ursula Le Guin's Wizards of Earthsea in that it's a fast read that takes place in a well-conceived alternative world. Be prepared to be plopped right down in the middle of it, too. You hit the ground running with this one. Charter and Free magic, the Old Kingdom, Ancelstierre, magic bells, and the nine gates of Death. You figure it out as the story unfolds, there's no preamble. I was lucky enough to pick up a library copy in which some kind soul had added a post-it note listing each of the bells and their titles. I referred to that list a lot! This story had everything I love. A strong female lead, a well constructed alternative world, and even a few surprises. Can't wait to get my paws on book two.
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LibraryThing member cindyXIII
If I could rate this book a million stars, I would.

"... I loved the woman who lies here. She would have lived if she had loved another, but she did not. Sabriel is our child. Can you not see the kinship?"

That is how the life of Sabriel begins. Her mother has died giving birth to her and her father
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decides to join the wanderers he finds in the forest. Sabriel's father is the Abhorsen. A necromancer who banishes or binds the dead that plague the living.

"... the Kingdom sinks day by day, into a darkness from which no one will rise..."

Sabriel is now 18 and finishing up her last year at Wyverly College.
Everything has gone good until she gets word that her father has disappeared. She has no choice but to leave school and search for him on her own. The road will be long and perilous ,with death threatening her every step of the way, but she must find her father.

>"May the Charter be with you, Sabriel."

I had no idea how much I would like this book when I first started reading it. There were many strange names, the beginning confused me, and it didn't really catch my interest. At first.

This book can't be compared to anything I have ever read before. Not Harry Potter, not The Last Apprentice, nothing. The magic is different, the atmosphere is pretty much the same: good vs evil, the town, city, country, is plagued by evil, only a few people possess the willpower and strength to defeat it, blah blah blah. But the way the magic is performed and used is different.

The characters are fully fleshed, intelligent, outspoken, and brave. Well, brave enough. I loved them. From Sabriel and Touchstone to Mogget and Colonel Horyse. Except for Kerrigor, of course. I didn't like Kerrigor...

I liked Sabriel more than I liked Katniss, believe it or not. I only hope she stays how she is now and doesn't get annoying like most characters tend do later on down the line.

& Touchstone. Oh, Touchstone. By page 220 I was irrevocably and undeniably in love with him. Touchstone, please tell me that I'll be reunited with you in the next 2 books. I won't be able to stand it if you're not there!

Mogget. I actually liked Mogget, he's witty and sarcastic. And scary when without a collar...

The story couldn't have been any cooler. Don't get me wrong, some parts left me a bit confused but I'm blaming that on the fact that I'm a little slow and because I rushed through some parts to find out what happens in the end. I'm sure I'll get it when I re-read it.
I've noticed that many Fantasy books are dark. Sabriel falls into that category. People are betrayed, murdered, enslaved by both the living and the dead.
But I find that I prefer reading books with dark undertones. It always makes the story more interesting for some reason...

But, anyway, this book is excellent. There's plenty of action and only a tiny bit of romance. That's the perfect combination for me.
Take note, YA authors, THIS is what YA books should be like. More action, less making out. I would read a lot more YA books if I knew it wasn't just a huge kiss-fest.

If you like the HP series or The Last Apprentice series,
I HIGHLY recommend Sabriel!
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LibraryThing member la_librarian
I don't go into a recap of what the story is or give a play by play in my can go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble online for that. These are just my thoughts after reading, or in this case, listening to the story of Sabriel.

Sabriel is a classic coming of age/quest adventure. It's heroine
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is female which I liked because many of the fantasy type books have a male protagonist. Sabriel is a strong young woman yet vulnerable as well.

I enjoyed how Sabriel didn't quite seem to know everything and "get" everything but she forged on knowing that even if she didn't get it perfect she still had to try.

The storyline is interesting and you get the sense that there are many more stories about the "old kingdom" left untold.

The author could have gone into the explanations in a little more detail about the necromancy, the "bells," and what each person's role is but at the same time I think it is a tool to have the reader feel a little like Sabriel does: like she knows she needs to keep going on this quest, she knows that she doesn't know everything, but perhaps she knows enough to get her through successfully.
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LibraryThing member tim_halpin
Sabriel is a great protagonist. She's 18, female, and yet doesn't spend every waking minute thinking about boys, and even when confronted with a naked one only blushes slightly. One of the main failures of this genre's attitude towards young women is how they tend to be either helpless trophies
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(Arwen) or sex-obsessed and incompetent (Clary Fray). Sabriel is neither of these, but a little of both, just as she is also brave, strong, selfless and capable.

However, despite how great Sabriel is, the plot leaves a little to be desired, and I would have liked to get to know some other characters a bit more. It's a bit one thing after another, job done, get home. And one particularly remarkable coincidence that isn't properly explained as anything other than good luck. I don't believe in good luck, it's a bad plot mechanism. But, on the other hand, the world of the Old Kingdom is a brilliant invention, with a well thought-out magical universe which we've only just begun to understand. I'm always a bit dubious about any sort of hereditary monarchy being imbued with almost divine status, and Kerrigor is why. I just hope that there'll be some sort of constitutional reform when Touchstone gets into power.

Perhaps as the series goes on we'll get to know more people and the plot will get more complex. I hope so, because I really want to get to know Sabriel better and spend more time with her and the Old Kingdom.
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LibraryThing member ed.pendragon
A young woman finds herself thrust into a task that she feels unprepared for, and of course you have to hope that, despite the odds, she succeeds. This being fantasy, first cousin to fairytales and heir to human dreams, you can be almost certain that she will. But, to quote the song, it's not what
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you do but the way that you do it: that's what gets results... And because Garth Nix is a talented writer, with a long track record in publishing and editing, the end result is a very distinguished and impressive first volume in The Old Kingdom series. (In some countries the trilogy is named the Abhorsen series, from the title of the gatekeeper between the realms of the living and the dead.)

Nix, an Australian author, seems to have used Scotland and the North of England as his inspiration for the trilogy, though it's a Britain very different from anything we're now familiar with, not least because technology and attitudes correspond more closely to the early decades of the twentieth century. The Old Kingdom, at present without a king, is a realm where magic is so prevalent that the boundaries between Death and Life are easily crossed by adepts. It most resembles Scotland in being a land where kilts are not unknown, lying to the north of an edifice corresponding to Hadrian's Wall which divides it off from a rather unmagical Ancelstierre. But you will look in vain to identify equivalents in Scotland for features in the Old Kingdom, though the royal city shares some similarities with Edinburgh (as well as medieval Byzantium).

There are even two types of magic: Charter Magic, the purer form, and Free Magic, much harder to govern. I very much liked Nix's treatment of things magical, and while the rationale behind it (Where does it come from? Why is it strong in the Old Kingdom?) is rather vague in this story, its manifestation and all its detailing (Charter Marks, the taste of Free Magic) is well imagined and described. As a musician I was entranced by his wonderful concept of the sounds of bells precipitating magical effects, and I felt that each of Sabriel's seven bells was imbued with its own character to match its effects. In vain did I try to link them to systems in other cultures, though the ancient idea of the Music of the Spheres came close.

Some readers have complained about the rather perfunctory love story in this young adult novel, but I thought that the balance between this and the fantasy elements was about right. In any case, as the plot driver is mostly about the relationship between Sabriel and her endangered father, any overloading of romantic elements would have distracted from the parent-child bond that Sabriel concentrates on.

The sheer inventiveness that Nix displays is very impressive: I particularly liked the paperwings, gliders that respond to Charter Magic; gliders were of course still a relative novelty in our equivalent early 20th century culture. Other commonplace elements, such as the dead being reanimated, are treated in a way that feel fresh, for all our modern familiarity with zombies and their ilk. One of his wonderful conceptions is Mogget, a snow-white cat who is not what he seems, and who functions rather like a Cheshire Cat to Sabriel's Alice role. The touches of sly humour that Mogget provides helps to leaven the sheer and sustained dread that confronts Sabriel throughout the novel and which continues virtually to the very end of the tale.

There are also the wordplays that wordsmiths like Nix like to employ, wordplays such as Kerrigor, the name of the character who has precipitated the crisis and who perhaps derives his name from a medieval Arthurian poem. In this Welsh poem reference is made to an Otherworld castle called Caer Rigor, the Royal Fort, and which itself perhaps contains a pun on Latin rigor, 'harshness' or 'severity'. Another series of allusions concerns the holders of the post of Abhorsen, whose names end in -el, such as Sabriel, Terciel, Lirael and Clariel. This is surely a nod towards the names of the Biblical archangels, such as Michael and Raphael, the suffix of which means 'power' or 'divinity' and which is cognate with elohim, one of the Hebrew names for gods or God. Sabriel and her fellow Abhorsens are like those mighty powers who guard the boundary between this world and the next, comparable to the unnamed angel who stops Adam and Eve returning to Eden or to Michael who defeats the armies of Satan. Sabriel is perhaps the Hebrew sabra or prickly pear, tough on the outside but soft inside, both a young girl on the cusp of womanhood and a guardian angel.

Like many a good tale Sabriel works on different levels: a solid narrative to appeal to a first reading, and layers of allusion and echoes of other narratives, especially apt in a plot involving bells, to add to the joy of subsequent re-readings.
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LibraryThing member ankhet
Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a man who, though able to raise the Dead, is sworn to lay them to rest. When her father fails to show up to one of their monthly visits, sending instead a Dead servant to pass along the tools of his trade, his bandolier of bells and his Charter Magic imbued
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sword, Sabriel knows something is Very Wrong. She must cross the Wall which divides Ancelsteirre from the Old Kingdom (and the "modernizing" world from one which contains magic, dead rising, and more) to begin a journey not only to save her father but to save the Old Kingdom (and, indeed, the world) from an old evil: a prince of the Blood turned power-hungry Dead creature determined to throw the Old Kingdom into chaos and turn it into a feeding ground for the Dead.

Sabriel first captured my attention when I was a young teenager, just discovering true fantasy - previously I had read either adult science fiction (such as Dune or the Chronicles of Pern) or very young adults' novels, many of which contain quite a few fantastical elements. It grabbed me then and it still retains my love and has a special place on my (overstuffed) bookshelf. In it there is magic, evil, love (albeit very subdued love), danger, the hints of historical fiction (Ancelsteirre seems to resemble a 1930s or '40s England, to my mind), Death and its denizens, and a fantastical House which can protect itself with magical sendings and a spell-induced flood.

I heartily recommend Sabriel to any lover of fantasy, regardless of what age group the reader is.
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LibraryThing member Homechicken
The Abhorsen trilogy, of which this book is the first, is targeted at a teen audience, but I didn't feel that at all. This book was a great read, and I can' wait to get started on the next one. There are some new, neat ideas I'd never read before, such as the hero being a necromancer. The split
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world of magic and technology isn't anything new (read Christopher Stasheff's Warlock series, Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East trilogy and the Swords books, Roger Zelazny's Jack of Shadows—one of my personal favorites, etc etc). But all in all it is a well-written book, paced evenly enough with interesting characters.

I don't know if it's the version I have, but the book uses British spelling, which sometimes is distracting. Not enough to take you away from the book, though.

The ending was fast, the story just stopped. As soon as I finished it I wanted to pick up the next book, Lirael, but I have others in my book queue that have been waiting longer.
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LibraryThing member zeyu
This book is very interesting. It is confusing at first, but soon the story grabs your attention. The main character Sabriel, tries to save her father from dying completely. So she sets of on a adventure, on the way facing some real problems and solving them.

Sabriel shows some real bravery and
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courage. She went on the adventure with a free magic called Maggot in a shape of a cat. They travel all the way to hell to save her father but in the end... (read it for your self!!!)

This is the first book of the Old Kingdom trilogy. The other two are Lirael and Abhorsen. I recommend this book to 9 to 13 years old because they might be interested in Fantasy.
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LibraryThing member Crayne
Sabriel is the first book in the Abhorsen Trilogy and I have no idea how it managed to work its way under my radar and stay there for so long. It's well-written, the setting is rich and evocative and the characters are mostly well-developed. In stark contrast to another young adult series I
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recently read (I won't name any names, but it involves bitey things that glitter) Sabriel speaks to the reader more in 'adult' than in 'young' tones.
Sabriel, a schoolgirl in the Great-Britain-circa-1915-esque land of Ancelstierre, is visited by a messenger from her father. He is a necromancer of great power in another realm usually referred to as The Old Kingdom. A necromancer, but with one great difference: where his brethren study the art of waking the dead, the Abhorsen puts them to rest. Permanently if possible. The message comes from beyond death, prompting Sabriel to leave the protected environment of her school and try and find her father's body in order to restore him to life.
To be honest, I usually do not enjoy (epic) fantasy (and I realize that this might not fit entirely in that category, with its strange blend of more or less traditional fantasy with alternative history) save for George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. I guess now there are two series in that genre I actually enjoy...
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LibraryThing member crimsonsonata
Summary: Sabriel has lived in Ancelstierre for most of her life and has just received an ominous message from her homeland, the Old Kingdom, that her father is in grave danger. Sabriel’s father is Abhorsen, a title she always through was his name, and his job is to keep the Dead where they
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belong. Now that he is missing, she must step into the Abhorsen’s shoes and go on a journey through life and death to both search for her father and conquer a greater evil that is spreading through the Old Kingdom.

Use and appropriateness in a HS classroom: Garth Nix’s Sabriel, which is the first book in the trilogy The Old Kingdom, can be used either to discuss the themes of good and evil or analyzed with a feminist lens. The most prominent topics in the book that can be analyzed include Sabriel’s role of Abhorsen (as killing zombie-like creatures is usually reserved mostly for men) and Sabriel’s dominant position (as Abhorsen) over most people in the land, including royalty. Student discussion could also include why society expects males to fill dominant roles. The novel can also be analyzed along with fairy tales as well (i.e. - Sleeping Beauty and Nix’s reversal of the hero kissing the princess awake). Some conservative communities will probably object to the theme of atheism.
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LibraryThing member Cynical_Ames
Hmm, I didn’t not like it but I wasn’t in love with it either. The story was so fast paced that I never really connected with Sabriel or her father and felt very little when he finally died, maybe I would have felt differently if he had spent more time on centre stage at the beginning. Overall
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I needed more interaction between Sabriel, Mogget (loved his grumpy sarcasm) and Touchstone - just some chatter that wasn’t related to “the mission” to help them become better acquainted with one another, friendlier perhaps in order to strengthen their ties.

The ending was quite abrupt and felt this was a missed opportunity for character development. I wanted to see Touchstone shake off some of his guilt and embrace his future. I wanted to know how Mogget survived the seventh bell and if being consumed had changed him. And I wanted to know how Kerrigor took to becoming a black cat. All of these things could so easily have been addressed in a well-crafted extended epilogue placed after the original epilogue of course. One thing I did like at the end was the contrast in colour between the two cats; one white mostly helpful cat and one black very evil one sitting side by side - it was a nice touch.

From everything I have just written, I’ve realised that I just needed the characters to be fleshed out a bit to make me fall in love with them because to me they seemed grey and needed to be painted with more colour, more life even if the story did revolve around death.
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LibraryThing member edgeworth
Garth Nix is one of Australia's most well-regarded writers of young adult fantasy, and the Old Kingdom trilogy is apparently considered one of his best works. I've been meaning to read more young adult books lately, so I picked up the first book in the trilogy, "Sabriel."

A disappointment. "Sabriel"
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follows the titular protagonist through her adventures as she leaves the nation of Ancelstierre, analogous to early twentieth century England, and ventures north into the Old Kingdom, a dark and mysterious land of magic. Her father, a sort of reverse-necromancer titled the Abhorsen who is tasked with laying the dead to rest in the Old Kingdom, has been imprisoned in the land of the dead and now something evil is heading south to Ancelstierre.

I dislike reading about magic. I like fantasy, I like made-up stuff, but reading about the mechanics of spell-casting is like reading about chemistry or physics - it just isn't interesting. From Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, I've never been anything but bored by novels that make magic a centrepiece of the plot (with the notable exception of Susannah Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell," because she focuses more on the world and the political and social ramifications of magic than on the magic itself). Unfortunately, "Sabriel" is virtually overflowing with magic. Every main character is a magician or magical creature, and we're treated to long and tedious passages where Sabriel uses spells and wardings and blah blah blah to fight creatures of the Dead. That was another thing - the Old Kingdom lies in ruins, a post-apocalyptic winter wasteland ravaged by horrible undead monsters. Yet Nix fails to instil any sense of horror or dread, and not through lack of trying.

There was nothing absolutely terrible about this book, but nor was there anything that rose above mediocre. The characters were bland. The world was uninteresting. The prose was unremarkable (and good prose is not too much to expect of a young adult novel; Philip Pullman and Philip Reeve both write with excellent visual language). I don't recommend "Sabriel," and I doubt I'll bother reading the sequels.
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LibraryThing member Awesomeness1
I've only heard good things about the trilogy and I've gotten the impression that it was a must for fantasy lovers.

Here's the summary: "Sabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead."

Nah. I
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wasn't impressed. At the most, it was okay. I just couldn't get into it. I would find myself unconciously skimming it before reminding myself that I was supposed to be paying attention. I guess the fantasy was unique, but it was hard for me to picture. Despite it being action-packed, the overall plot progression was slow. I could easily put it down without being compelled to pick it up again. The prose served it's purpose but wasn't particularly well-done. I was also never really sure what Sabriel's goal was or who the bad guys were. By far my least favorite part of the book was the characters. All the characters, including the MC, weren't granted even the thinnest wisps of personality. They were simply names of the page, used as plot devices. I never felt any connection to them at all. Sabriel was the "perfect" character. She didn't have any flaws and did everything without the slightest bit of difficulty. Perhaps if Nix had made the book in first person POV it would be more compelling. The "romance" between Touchstone and Sabriel made me gag. Don't make me mention the talking cat...

Anyway, do I recommend it? No. Will I read the sequels? Possibly.

P.S. My little cousin Michaela wants me to say that the girl on the cover looks like Michael Jackson.
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LibraryThing member sweird
Sabriel is the daughter of Abhorsen, which she believes is the name of her father, when it is actually a title and a duty. The Abhorsen is a necromancer who lays the dead to rest, a duty Sabriel inherits a bit unexpectedly, on the eve of her graduation from boarding school, when her father goes
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missing and sends his instruments to her. Knowing that she must try to rescue him, Sabriel journeys back into the Old Kingdom of her birth, finding herself woefully uneducated about its history and terrain. Only slightly more lucky than unlucky, she encounters Mogget at her father's house - a free magic creature and ancient servant to the Abhorsen. With his help, Sabriel navigates her way to the capital city, pausing slightly to pick up a romantic interest, and finds her father just in time for him to save her bacon, dying heroically. She and Touchstone, the aforementioned romantic interest, escape back into Ancelstierre (the land she was educated in) just in time for a great, dramatic battle they barely survive.

I like the world-building here - it serves the story without making the story serve it. I get the sense that Nix has worked his world out - or if he didn't with Sabriel, he knew it by the next two - but doesn't feel the need to beat us over the head with all his world-building. The mythology is present only to serve the characters and the plot. We don't actually know why magic is confined to the Old Kingdom, for example. We don't get much on the Clayr at all, here (we get much more from Lirael). But that's all good - he can and does develop it later. I also like the three principals - Sabriel, Mogget, and Touchstone. They complement each other quite well, and when any romance at all happens, it's really a statement of fact. "Ok, this might work. If we get out of this mess, we can discuss it in depth. Now? Work to do."
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LibraryThing member dk_phoenix
I'm so glad I took the recommendation to read this... and I'm also very glad I pushed through the first 50 pages! I'll be honest, I was around page 45 and thinking "I really hope this picks up soon... why don't I like it yet?!?!", but just a few more pages in and I was hooked. It was entertaining,
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unique, and for the most part, well crafted. For the most part.

Nix obviously did his world building first, then placed his characters and story inside... because he neglects to explain how things work, and acts like the reader already knows the rules. Well, we don't, and it would have been nice to have a little rundown. Even a cliche monologue to tell us the rules. Anything. Really!

Fortunately, after page 50 or so, you get used to it and just figure it'll all work out in the end. It kinda does, and kinda doesn't, but the story is still very good and leaves you wanting more. I'll be searching out the next two books in the series, and hope that Nix takes the time to explain more (any?) world rules as the books progress.

With that warning in place: I definitely recommend this book. Let's face it, with a female necromancer as the lead character, how can you possibly pass it up?
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LibraryThing member SamuelW
When the prologue of Sabriel first grabbed my attention and refused to let go, it was with a tinge of surprise that I thought, "Hey . . . this is really good . . ." By the time I had read three or four chapters, I was practically kicking myself. This book had been sitting on my shelf for two years,
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patiently waiting, while I read every other book that was thrown at me. Why, why, why had I not opened it before now? If I had known it was going to be this good, I would have devoured it the moment it was given to me!

So here's note to my past self: this book is absolutely riveting. Ingenious, vivid and suspenseful, Sabriel is a fast-paced fantasy with a decent splash of horror and a thoroughly engrossing premise. The writing maintains a high quality throughout, the characters are believable and interesting, and the action is fast and gripping. This book has everything – even a touch of romance and a take home moral. What more could a reader want? (On second thoughts, perhaps a free watch would be useful – reading Sabriel is a very easy way to lose track of the time!)

Garth Nix is one of the most original fantasy writers I have ever come across. Where he gets his brilliant ideas from, I shall never know. He siphons off the best bits from well-loved fantasy stereotypes, and overlays them with his own brand of ingenious creativity. His monsters are a good example. We're all familiar with rotting flesh and burning eyes, but what about skin made of flaming oil? We knew that the dead couldn't cross running water, but whoever thought that they could be repelled by the sound of bells? Nix leaves his own unique mark on every idea he borrows – even the idea of magic. The only fantasy novels I know of which match Sabriel's originality are Nix's more recent Keys to the Kingdom books, which are nearly as good. I say 'nearly' because, for all their ingenuity, they simply cannot match the pace and excitement of Sabriel.

Now that I know just how good this book is, I wish I had a time machine. I wish I could send my past self a note, instructing him to read Sabriel immediately! I would be careful, however, about how far into the past I sent it; this book is probably not suitable for most readers under 13 years of age.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Sabriel, the Abhorsen's daughter, has been living across the wall from her home country in the Old Kingdom, living in a boarding school in Ancelstierre. But when her father fails to show up for their monthly meeting, she knows something is dreadfully wrong, and she returns home to find him.

This is
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the first book in a trilogy that I first read when I was about sixteen or so. I hadn't read much fantasy beyond the classics at that point, and I remember the sort of mixed feeling of enjoyment and dread of reading about necromancy. I was curious to see how I would read it again, after many more years of reading the genre. Sabriel didn't disappoint. It didn't have that same sort of forbidden feeling, and now I can say that it has some of the tropes of the genre (Touchstone's identity, for example, was extremely easy to figure out). But as one of the first representative works of the genre in my mental library, even its familiarity was fun. I'd forgotten much of the details in the decade plus since I'd read it, and enjoyed it all over again.
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LibraryThing member seph
Garth Nix proves he is a master of imagination and vision with the amazing new worlds he writes, and he does not disappoint with this book. His system of magic in this story ranks as one of my all-time favorites. Unfortunately, there's something somewhat flat and less than engaging about his
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writing style and he doesn't always succeed at breathing life into his creations. As with the early stories in his Keys to The Kingdom series, I found this story interesting, but not compelling. I was curious as to how the story would unfold, but I wasn't at all emotionally invested in the characters. I am interested enough to want to continue with the story and will eventually pick up the next book though. Hopefully, as with the Keys series, I will feel more immersed in the story with each subsequent book.
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LibraryThing member tronella
Hey look, more children's fantasy! I didn't like this so much, though... Sabriel's a bit Mary Sue-ish, and the whole thing with her falling in love with (spoiler) seemed a bit... I don't know, arbitrary?
LibraryThing member FieryNight
A great storyteller. I loved Sabriel's coming-into-Abhorsenship story, as well as the new take on magic and life & death Garth Nix brings to the table.

LibraryThing member dreamless
Pretty awesome. He's built a really neat world, with striking visuals and a few nifty magic systems, and the story and prose back it up. It's aimed a bit young, but well worth it.

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