Friday, 4 March 2005

Book Review: Sabriel (Garth Nix)

Aha, I apologize for the somewhat cryptic post previously. It's just one of those posts where I just had to get certain frustrations out. And I'm not even talking about my increasingly violent coughing fits.

To make up for that, here's the mini review for Garth Nix's Sabriel, which I just finished around 15 minutes ago. :)


Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix

Sabriel is the daughter of the Mage Abhorsen. Ever since she was a tiny child, she has lived outside the Wall of the Old Kingdom - far away from the uncontrolled power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead.

But now her father is missing, and Sabriel is called upon to cross back into that world to find him. Leaving the safety of the school she has known as home, Sabriel embarks upon a quest fraught with supernatural dangers, with companions she is unsure of - for nothing is as it seems within the boundary of the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life, and comes face to face with her hidden destiny...

Main Characters:
  • Sabriel - The heroine. Daughter of the Mage Abhorsen, and she has to go into the Old Kingdom and save him.
  • Mogget - A little cat, actually a Free Magic being who is bound to serve the Abhorsen.

What I liked:

  • I liked the idea of a necromancer being the good guy. Necromancers (mages that deal with the dead) are usually evil, but here, Sabriel and her father are different types of necromancers, one who banish the dead BACK into Death. Very cool.
  • I'm a real sucker for inanimate objects with names. Heh. Here, the bells that Sabriel uses each have their own names, and each with their own purpose. Makes for an intriguing read where you wonder which bell will be used when.
  • The Charter marks are cool, especially when you imagine them on the Paperwing (a sort of airplane in the Old Kingdom)
  • I also liked the different precincts of Death itself. But I shall not elaborate further on this for fear of giving away the story
  • Sabriel is a cool character - talented, with cool name, and beautiful to boot. :)
  • The 'marriage' of the 'real world' (Ancelstierre) and the Old Kingdom is one that works very well. Certainly better than the Farce that was Weis and Hickman's Darksword trilogy.

What I didn't like:

  • Touchstone. Boring token character.
  • Ending seemed a little rushed.
  • The villain not exactly very well-developed.


Overall, I don't have much to gripe about with this book. It reads fluidly, with no problems understanding it at all. The pace is quite fast, and by the time you've reached the halfway point, you can't put it down.

It's a very cool story, especially with some very nice concepts of magic, using bells and music and all. That joining of the modern world and the fantasy one is also one that works very well.

It DID kinda reminded me of Pullman's His Dark Materials at some point... maybe it's that Sabriel/Touchstone thing...

Now to get my hands on the second book...

Oh, and if they ever make a movie out of this, I want a mini replica of the bells... :-)

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