Sabriel by Garth Nix

(8.5/10)

Sabriel is the first book in the Abhorsen Trilogy, and tells the story of Sabriel, daughter to Abhorsen and student of Wyverley College. Sabriel is coming to the end of her studies and is anxious to speak with her father about her choices for life after school. But when your father is the Abhorsen, necromancer, binder of the dead to death, what choices can you possibly have? A messenger from the other side, however, makes the choice for Sabriel as it becomes clear her father is trapped in death but not yet dead! How will Sabriel find him and who is the enemy she must face that has placed her father in this perilous place. Sabriel's quest begins but time is against her as is, it seems, most of the dead.

Aimed predominantly at the young adult market but appealing to adults alike this is the first Garth Nix book I have read. Whilst the prologue is written to grab your attention; which it most definately succeeds in doing, I must admit to finding the first part of the book less arresting. I must admit to plodding through the first half of the book, not uninterested but not entirely gripped.

"Charter Magic flared on Cloven Crest again, and Thralk sensed that it was strong and pure - but weakly cast. The strength of the magic scared him, but the lack of skill behind it was reassurig and strong magic meant a strong life. Thralk needed that life, needed it to shore up the body he used, needed it to replenish the leakage of his spirit back into Death. Greed won over the fear. The Dead thing left the mouth of the cave and started climbing the hill, his lidless, rotting eyes fixed on the distant crest."
Sabriel

The addition of 'Mogget' a character Sabriel finds at her father's house, brings much needed humour as do the Sendings, beings of Charter Magic, which appears to be magic used for good, whereas Free Magic can be used for both good and evil. There is also some excellent action quite early on in the story, no less the introduction of a most disagreeable being, the Mordicant, that certainly set the pulse racing.

The first part of any book I suppose is in some part given over to builing the characters, laying down the plot and giving form to the world around them; it's just that, the world of The Old Kingdom, where Sabriel must journey seems more than just bleak, it seems disjointed somehow and I really struggled to visualise it and let myself, my imagination, join Sabriel there.

No matter, for it is the second half of the book that really brings everything to life; even those that are dead! Sabriel finds and saves Touchstone, a young man who has been bound in an undead limbo for 200 years and who holds the key to Sabriel's quest to find her father the introduction of this character also brings a more rounded dimension to Sabriel, which seems somehow missing in the first part of the story.

The second part of the book picked up an immense pace, so much so I almost finished the book without realising just how much I had read; real 'can't put down' stuff. The build to the climax keeps you turning those pages without stopping for breath and the resulting resolution is very neat and definately different.

So is this a book of two halves? Well, it has obviously not been written that way and as this winner of many awards some (many?) would argue it doesn't read that way, but I can only give my personal opinion as to my reading experience of this book. It is a very enjoyable book it just took a while for me to immerse myself into it, but once there, fantastic. I'll certainly be reading more Garth Nix and now I am more accustomed to his writing style I hope to enjoy his books even more.

Review by

1 positive reader review(s) for Sabriel

12+

All reviews for Garth Nix's The Abhorsen Chronicles series

Sabriel

by Garth Nix

Sabriel is the first book in the Abhorsen Trilogy, and tells the story of Sabriel, daughter to Abhorsen and student of Wyverley College. Sabriel is coming to the end of her [...]

Series: The Abhorsen Chronicles: Book 1
Published: 1995

Score: 86

Our rating: 8.5 | positive reader reviews

12+

Lirael

by Garth Nix

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr, a powerful group of clairvoyant oracles responsible for assisting the Abhorsen and the Royal Family in keeping the [...]

Series: The Abhorsen Chronicles: Book 2
Published: 2001

Score: 92

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

12+

Abhorsen

by Garth Nix

Lirael and Sameth have reached the safety of the Abhorsens House after fleeing from Necromancer Hedge and his dead minions. Now trapped by his agent Chlorr and many Dead Ha [...]

Series: The Abhorsen Chronicles: Book 3
Published: 2003

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.5 | positive reader reviews

12+

More Garth Nix reviews

Troubletwisters

by Garth Nix

Portland might seem like a quiet coastal town, and their grandmother is perhaps no dottier than anyone else’s, but it soon becomes apparent that the strange things go [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2011

Score: 86

Our rating: 8.5 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

Mister Monday

by Garth Nix

The first day of term at Arthur Penhaligon's new school was supposed to be his last day on earth, but instead of dying of an asthma attack, he is given a key and drawn [...]

Series: The Keys to the Kingdom: Book 1
Published: 0000

Score: 88

Our rating: 8.5 | 3 positive reader reviews

12+

Grim Tuesday

by Garth Nix

With Monday defeated Arthur thought he had escaped the house and left it all behind him, however a couple of hours after releasing the Nightsweeper and finally getting some [...]

Series: The Keys to the Kingdom: Book 2
Published: 0000

Score: 87

Our rating: 8.5 | 2 positive reader reviews

12+

Drowned Wednesday

by Garth Nix

It's Wednesday morning and Leaf is visiting her friend Arthur, who is in a hospital bed, after damaging his leg during his adventures in Tuesday's treasure tower. U [...]

Series: The Keys to the Kingdom: Book 3
Published: 0000

Score: 67

Our rating: 6.5 | 2 positive reader reviews

12+

Sir Thursday

by Garth Nix

It's day four and Arthur and Leaf are returning back to Earth after claiming the Boarder Seas, however Arthur has to remain in the House, due to an imposter having alre [...]

Series: The Keys to the Kingdom: Book 4
Published: 0000

Score: 71

Our rating: 7.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

Lady Friday

by Garth Nix

Thousands of people are going missing from Earth, being taken by Lady Friday in the guise of Dr Friday, first mentioned in Sir Thursday, but what does Lady Friday want with [...]

Series: The Keys to the Kingdom: Book 5
Published: 0000

Score: 70

Our rating: 7.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

12+

Sabriel reader reviews

from United States

I picked up this book thinking that Garth Nix sounded like a cool author name 15 years ago in 2002. I did not expect to have picked up one of the best reads of my adult life. Sabriel is a book different than most fantasy offered. A story of a girl with a gift in the afterlife magic, without demons, but involving the of gates of hell. Abhorsen is a faster paced story, but Sabriel sets the stage. Honestly, Sabriel is akin to Harry Potter meets Dante's Inferno. Read it. This series holds as #6 on my list, which is topped by the Hyperion Cantos.

from Sweden

What amazed me was the magic system and the fact the main protagonist and her father are necromancers. In most fantasy books I've read so far, necromancers are evil and/or undead themselves and usually the bad guys of the story; even if used by the good guys, necromancy remains black magic. Not so amazing was the rest of it: the plot is rather predictable and the characters would've needed more depth and development.

from USA

This book creates a very imaginative and creative world and magic system, but the plot draws a blank line. Absolutely no plot twists whatsoever, and everything was predictable. One of the worst books I have read minus 50 Shades of Grey.

7.4/10 from 4 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The 10,000 Doors of January

by Alix E Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut. [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2019

Score: 101

Our rating: 10.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

The Unspoken Name

by A K Larkwood

A. K. Larkwood's The Unspoken Name is a stunning debut fantasy about an orc priestess turned wizard's assassin.What if you knew how and when you wi [...]

Series: The Serpent Gates #1
Published: 2020

Score: 101

Our rating: 10.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

by Alan Garner

When Colin and Susan are pursued by eerie creatures across Alderley Edge, they are saved by the Wizard. He takes them into the caves of Fundindelve, where he watches over t [...]

Series: NA
Published: 1960

Score: 98

Our rating: 9.7 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

Skallagrigg

by William Horwood

Unites Arthur, a little boy abandoned many years ago in a grim hospital in northern England, with Esther, a radiantly intelligent young girl who is suffering from cerebral [...]

Series: NA
Published: 1987

Score: 100

Our rating: 9.6 | 4 positive reader reviews

12+