Review: Sabriel – Garth Nix
by MW Cook
It was little more than three miles from the Wall into the Old Kingdom, but that was enough. Noonday sunshine could be seen on the other side of the Wall in Ancelstierre, and not a cloud in sight. Here, there was a clouded sunset, and a steady rain had just begun to fall, coming faster than the tents could be raised.
I didn’t find out this was technically a young adult novel until after I finished it. And I’m glad of that. Sometimes the labels people put on a book taint it before you get a chance to read it.
Sabriel is a fantasy about the daughter of an undead-slaying necromancer. Raised in a setting that feels like 20th-century earth, she is forced to leave school behind and seek her father deep within the Old Kingdom, a place rich with danger, magic and undead nasty thingies. Sabriel is full of great settings and intrigue. The most attractive part for me was the depth of the world and magics that made it.
The world is divided into two places. Ancelstierre, which is similar to earth a hundred years ago, and the Old Kingdom. They are separated by a great wall which holds back the undead yuckies and magics that try to pour down from the Old Kingdom.
The story was great. The plot was completely driven by the characters and deep. The writing, however, was a little clunky now and then, and that tend to be distracting. Also, the story was told strictly from the point of view of Sabriel herself. Usually I resonate with a book better when there are multiple views points to distract me. But I think that’s more of a failing with me than it is with the book. It’s the first in a series, and I still haven’t decided if I’m going to plunge ahead and get the rest of them. But if you like fantasy and teen novels and deeper-than-usual-coming-of-age tales, give Sabriel a whirl.
Death and what came after death was no great mystery to Sabriel. She just wished it was.
Fear and realization of ignorance were strong medicines against stupid pride.