My younger son reads a lot of SF & Fantasy. Ever since he polished off the Ranger’s Apprentice series in 3rd grade, we’ve had multiple librarians recommend Sabriel by Garth Nix as something he might like. But despite multiple exposures, he’s never been interested and it never quite made it to the top of my reading priority list.
This month, the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club selected Sabriel as one of their group reads. I decided to try to be more social about my reading in 2017, so finally took the time to read Sabriel.
Like many of the others reading along, I think I would have loved Sabriel if I had first read it as a tween or young teen. I liked the world/magic system, but as an adult found the writing just adequate with a few too many Deus Ex Machina Moments. I wish the audiobook had been available, because I think it would have enjoyed it even more as an audiobook.
The edition I got from the library was an omnibus with Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. And while I typically find my enjoyment diminishes if I read multiple books in the same series sequentially (or too many books in exactly the same genre in a row), I was hooked enough that I decided to just continue on once I finished Sabriel. I would definitely recommend making sure you have access to Abhorsen (the 3rd in the trilogy) before starting Lirael because the two almost seem to be parts of the same whole separated by a cliff-hanger and arbitrary volume length constraints. The continuously escalating action keeps the pages turning, the Disreputable Dog is charming, but the writing is still choppier than I prefer.
A book about Necromancy! Coooool. Garth Nix is one of those well known teen fantasy authors I'm just getting around to reading now. When you have a tight budget and books are expensive, you pick up whatever is cheap and has been on your 'I'll get to it' pile for a while. Enter a used copy of Sabriel I found in a bookstore in Napier.
Sabriel is a mostly normal girl living in Ancelstierre, a world similar to our own, though she was born in the Old Kingdom, which is just a short ways away on the other side of the wall. Her father is also the Abhorsen, a necromancer who works to protect the Old Kingdom from evil magics. The novel kicks off when she is thrust into a world she barely knows in order to rescue her father, who is trapped in Death, with the aid of a cat named Mogget and a soldier named Touchstone, who was trapped in a ship's hull for hundreds of years.
This was a fun, fairly fast-paced read. I enjoyed reading a story that revolved around new types of magic and sorcery than haven't seen before. The world building was rich but not overbearing. There was also a map in the edition I had. Always a plus. I also liked the duality of the world. It reminded me a bit of Stardust. But I liked that the two were aware of each other, and there was crossover. One world wasn't just this mysterious scary thing on the other side of a wall.
Nix is a very fluid writer and gives beautiful descriptions of the locations and items in his books. I particularly enjoyed reading the bits where Sabriel was in Death. The different concepts of what is in the afterlife always pique my interest.
This had all the right elements. I mostly liked the main character, the story, the pacing, what I found of the worldbuilding ... should have been an unmitigated hit.
It it always started to get interesting then just missed. I have no idea if will be going on with these.
I think I missed something because it almost but never quite connected or became page-turning-ly interesting. There's still some bits and pieces that make me think the series could be an interesting one, including the Clarys that showed at end--partly to see if I'd see this one differently after reading more.
I triple checked this was one to read first of the multiple series/books.
I know that some of the puzzling worldbuilding was because of author's device of a geas near the charter stones prohibiting anyone from discussing the background of charter and free magic. I know I'm supposed to accept that the "rules," the good/evil or logic when set aside for M.C. were supposed to be accepted because she was the Abhorsen (rather than hypocritical or illogical withn the framework already established) -- but I struggled with it.
I still don't swallow how it was acceptable or evil when plot-convenient (never of course when the Abhorsen was doing it) to enslave Moggot(?) and others. From other discussions, I gather " free magic" like M.'s was supposed to be evil (except when used by Abhorsen)...?
No hurry to continue series if I do.