(Fantastic Fantasy): Sabriel by Garth Nix

(Fantastic Fantasy): Sabriel by Garth NixSabriel by Garth Nix
Series: The Old Kingdom #1
on 2014
Pages: 396
For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that treacherous world - and face the power of her own extraordinary destiny...''Sabriel' is a winner, a fantasy that reads like realism. Here is a world with the same solidity and four-dimensional authority as our own, created with invention, clarity and intelligence.' PHILIP PULLMAN..'Passionately exciting, full of intriguing characters and stunning scenery, 'Sabriel' is sheer enjoyment.' THE TIMES..'Weaving horror and fantasy into a rich, original story ... a powerful, gripping quest.' THE AGE..

When Sabriel can’t contact her father, she knows something is wrong. Leaving the relative safety of Ancelstierre and venturing through the wall into the Old Kingdom is dangerous but Sabriel knows the risks. Not having been to the Old Kingdom since she was a young child, now a decade older and wiser, Sabriel has to magical spirits, evil and more if she wants to bring her father back – or even to stay alive.

This is a book where as soon as I finished – I was shocked that I hadn’t read it earlier. It’s the kind of fantasy novel which is anything but fanciful. The world Garth Nix has created is realistic in so many ways and yet the perfect setting for this fantasy novel. The magic involved is interesting and I loved reading about the charter marks, free magic and The Book of the Dead. The combination of a real life world with technology and a magical realm with all the fantasy elements you can imagine both existing on the same plane only separated by a wall was ingenious. I enjoyed the supporting characters (Mogget!) but what I loved most about this novel was the character of Sabriel.

Sabrel impressed me again and again with her approach to the situation. She’s brave and intelligent yet she is still inexperienced and not at all confident in her abilities. She has to embrace her necromancy legacy and the secrets of the magic or else doom the Old Kingdom and beyond to an old evil. She’s different from other heroines. This is no fearless kick-arse heroine nor is she a complete innocent ignorant to the way of the world. She’s somewhere in between the two and Sabriel’s character adds to the realism of the novel.

Sabriel had me interested from the first few pages. It is a book which will appeal to 12 year olds and 80 year olds alike. It’s a clean read with regards to adult content but readers of all ages will be engaged with the action and adventure. I covered a whole range of emotions whilst reading from frightened to sad, excited and euphoric – this book really does have it all. I’m so excited to have finally “discovered” Garth Nix and the Old Kingdom series. There is no doubt I’ll be reading the next book, Lirael, in the near future!


Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for the review copy


  1. I thought I’d drop by to make sure that you don’t miss the tired, hairy mermaid too much 😛 I bought this not to long ago and I was excited for, but now I’m even more excited! It sounds absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to get to it! Lovely review, Kate <3

  2. Pingback: If you like “Abhorsen”, then you might enjoy… | A Fictional Universe

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