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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel (adult) (The Abhorsen Trilogy) I've been a bit undecided how to review this book. Don't get me wrong, I did like it, a lot, but I didn't love it and it did take me a while to read, I put it down and picked it up a number of times. It could be just me (so much going on in my life, that I found it hard to concentrate on the storyline) but parts of the novel seemed a bit slow, or something... I just can't put my finger on a specific concern. Maybe it was just that it was an involved read with quite a few new and different concepts for me. I do want to know more so I will read Lirael, the next in the Abhorsen Trilogy and err on the side of caution.

'Sabriel' moves from Ancelstierre to the Old Kingdom and 18 year old Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom for many years. When Sabriel's father goes missing she returns to the Old Kingdom, to the world of free magic and the undead to try and find him. Sabriel's father is a Charter Mage, from the powerful Abhorsen family. Sabriel becomes the next Abhorsen when her father is trapped in death by a powerful, evil opponent.

I really enjoyed the magic system - free magic; unbound, chaotic, dangerous magic & charter magic; used by Charter Mages, all those bearing a baptismal charter mark on their forehead.
This was also my first involved reading about necromancers (usually free magic sorcerers who summon and control the dead with seven bells.) However the Abhorsen family necromancers use the bells to defeat the dead who won't stay dead and force them to return to 'Death' beyond the 9th gate, the point of no return. The Abhorsen's difficult job is to protect the living from the dead.

I loved the description of the seven bells & their powers and the nine gates & precincts of death. I also loved the ending; it wasn't a 'get out of jail free' ending. You might think from all the mentions of death, dead, undead, raising dead, defeating the dead, that this is a dark, horror read but it isn't like that at all. Yes there are a few bits that are not for the squeamish and there are some concepts that are a little confronting but I didnt find it a dark, depressing read, the magic more than negated any nasties

Royal Rating:

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