Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 30, 1996 (first American edition - Originally published 1995)
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.
I absolutely loved the world building in this one! I started reading this one as part of a read-a-long (which I totally failed at. AGAIN). I read this one a long time ago (junior high?), but I remembered hardly anything, so it was basically like reading a new book.
Sabriel is a likable character. It's really easy to feel for her and see where she's coming from. She knows so little about what she is supposed to do on her quest and her only source of information is a bit questionable and also often prevented from passing along information. She goes through so much and I really wanted her to succeed (the consequences if she does not are dire indeed).
The other characters are interesting as well. There are only two we get to see a lot of: Mogget and Touchstone. I loved Mogget. Probably because I have such a soft spot for animals, especially cats. But also because of the mystery surrounding him. And a few times we get to see another side of Mogget and I personally found it fascinating! Touchstone was just alright for me. He seemed trustworthy and dependable, but he has a lot of guilt, which translates into a I'm-not-worthy attitude that got a little grating.
As I mentioned earlier, I loved the world building in this book. The concept of Death is a tricky one, but I though Garth Nix handled it beautifully! It's really original and captivating and intriguing. The living portion of his world was also great. I loved the bizarre separation of the Old Kingdom and those across the wall and those caught between the two, like Sabriel.
The only thing I didn't love about this one was the romance. I found it to be rather sudden. Not instalove (thank goodness), but it appeared suddenly for me without much build-up. The romance by no means ruined the book, but honestly, I think the book would have been just as good without it.
Overall, I did really enjoy this one. The world building was some of the best I've read and our heroine definitely did not disappoint. It's always great when a book is just as good the second time through!
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