Sabriel is the first book of the Old Kingdom Series, written by Garth Nix. Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a powerful mage who battles people who just refuse to stay dead, and is sent to Wyverly College, a school for girls, away from the unruly powers of dark magic and its sorcerers. But after receiving a message from her father who is trapped in death, she must leave this protected environment and set off to her ancestral home over the Wall in an attempt to learn more about her father’s plight. There she meets the talking cat Mogget, a raging natural force contained in the shape of a cat (who we later learn is the remnants of one of the Seven creators of the Charter, the main source of magic in the world), and together they set off in order to rescue her father. Along the way, she meets Touchstone, the nearest thing the Old Kingdom has to a King, after his long period of slumber trapped as a figurehead, and they progress towards the capitol of the Old Kingdom, where the body of Sabriel’s father lies. Along the way, they learn more about an evil that is stirring, the same evil that has trapped Sabriel’s father. Eventually the group arrives, ready to take on the corrupted mage Kerrigor and attempt to rescue her father. The rest you’ll have to find out by reading the book!!

I like to think of myself as a fan of this guy, especially with the way he effortlessly blends and moves Sabriel from her protected school, to an adventure of corrupted sorcerers, talking cats, royal betrayal, magical flying machines, lots and lots of undead beasties, and for Sabriel, a quest for adulthood and responsibility.

I like to have a wee nag at these kinds of books, especially (in my opinion anyway) that endings are usually very blatant, and can be seen from a mile off. However, this is not the case, as the finale was set-up in a careful and non-obvious fashion, it even had me surprised!. It was mainly released as a book for young adults, it is a brutal story in places, not flinching from some of the consequences of its various nasty bits, and avoiding contrivance, unlike many of this genre

However, there is just one tiny little nag to be had. Some of the writing in the first half seems to need just another polish to remove a bit of clumsiness and repetition. Another slight complaint is that the initial introduction to our heroine concludes with this:

Death and what came after death was no great mystery to Sabriel. She just wished it was.

Overall though, this book is great throughout, and Garth has really done himself proud with this, and should be given the thumbs up to all comers, even those who don’t particularly enjoy this kind of thing!

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