Garth Nix is a talented and well-known author but his Old Kingdom series is definitely one of my favourites. Sabriel combines magic, adventure and death in a completely original way. The story follows Sabriel, a young necromancer who has spent her whole life outside the Old Kingdom, where free magic and death roam. On the disappearance of her father, however, Sabriel is forced to cross the Wall and embark on a quest to find him.
This book begins with a beautiful prologue which thrusts you into the Old Kingdom, inspiring so many questions about the realm that are not answered straight away, forcing you to turn that extra page before putting the book down. There are countless enchanting descriptions of the Old Kingdom and every explanation of its rules and features is written in a way that is neither tedious nor expository.
The magic in this series takes on an entirely new form in the charter, an ordered power which has rules and limits. Formed of charter marks that can be spoken, whistled or drawn, your power is as great as your knowledge when delving into the unending sea of the charter. These rules ground the charter and the story as a whole as every action has a purpose and it means that not every problem is solved by magic. As well as the charter, the seven bells of a necromancer are unique and are wonderfully described. Their chilling properties add an even greater sense of danger to the plot and I cannot imagine the book without them.
Sabriel’s characters are just as intriguing as its locations. The namesake of the book is instantly likeable, and charmingly realistic. She is mature and clever but made more interesting by her own desires. Her flaws only make her more compelling; I found myself hoping again and again that her confidence and knowledge would be enough to save her from the dangers that lie north of the Wall.
One of the other most intriguing characters within the book, interestingly enough, takes the form of a cat. Mogget is by far the biggest mystery in the book. A servant bound to serve the Abhorsen, a powerful necromancer, we know that Mogget is not to be trusted, and yet he proves to be a true companion to Sabriel. His quips and sarcastic nature making you forget the potentially bloodthirsty creature that is kept at bay by the collar round his neck.
I would seriously recommend this book for anyone who loves fantasy, adventure and strong female role models who can do amazing feats of magic.
About the reviewer
Evie Doyle is currently studying Psychology, Biology and Performing Arts at Charnwood College. She is an avid reader in her spare time as well as a scout and guide. She is also part of an amateur theatre group.