Sabriel

Author: Garth Nix

Sabriel has spent most of her childhood safe on the south side of the Wall at boarding school in Ancelstierre. Meanwhile her father, Abhorsen, faced the dangers of the Old Kingdom, the world to the north of the Wall that operates according to an older, darker set of rules. Occasionally, he would come to visit her and train her in the ways of their family–doing the opposite of necromancers and sending the Dead back into Death where they belong. Sabriel’s life changes in an instant, when a messenger from her father brings his sword and magical bells to her, letting her know he is trapped in Death and it is up to her to take up his work–and save him if possible.

Sabriel is an affirmed classic of the fantasy genre and for good reason. In it, Garth Nix crafts an intricate and exciting high fantasy full of secrets, surprises, hidden identities, daring fights, unexpected heroes, and a rich, unusual variety of magic. All of this is set in a world that effortlessly combines necromancy and automobiles, telephones and walking Dead, talking cats and aircraft–an alternate-reality version of England that captures the imagination. Yet for all the glamour of the fights and the excitement of the adventure, Sabriel is also a dark tale, imbued with the chill of death–both the pain of losing the living and the wrongness of the Dead returned. Bringing a rich humanity to the story is an array of complex, intriguing characters, most notably Sabriel herself with her blend of solemnity and uncertainty as she goes through the change from an Ancelstierran schoolgirl to one of the most powerful mages of her time. I would highly recommend Sabriel to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy.

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