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Sabriel (Abhorsen Trilogy) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
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After receiving a cryptic message from her father, Abhorsen, a necromancer trapped in Death, 18-year-old Sabriel sets off into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands. Unlike other necromancers, who raise the dead, Abhorsen lays the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him--and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father's title and duties--to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible exhaustion, violent confrontations, and terrifying challenges to her supernatural abilities--and her destiny.
Garth Nix delves deep into the mystical underworld of necromancy, magic, and the monstrous undead. This tale is not for the faint of heart; imbedded in the classic good-versus-evil story line are subplots of grisly ghouls hungry for human life to perpetuate their stay in the world of the living, and dark, devastating secrets of betrayal and loss. Just try to put this book down. For more along this line, try Nix's later novel: Shade's Children. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Sabriel is her last year at Wyverley College, a private school in Ancelstierre, where Magic does not work, but near the Border with the Old Kingdom, where it does. She and her father are also highly skilled necromancers, who fight the dead who seek to return to Life. But when her father is somehow trapped in Death, she must journey into the Old Kingdom to find him. She does not know that it is wracked by struggle (like that in Ursula LeGuin's The Farthest Shore)-a magician has brought chaos by refusing to die and hopes to use Sabriel and her father to further consolidate his power. Sabriel goes on a long journey throughout a densely imagined world, learning as she goes, and meeting such strange characters as Mogget, a raging natural force contained in the shape of a cat. She also develops a relationship with Touchstone, a young man who turns out to be as crucially involved as she is. Although Sabriel is possessed of much heavy knowledge ("A year ago, I turned the final page of The Book of the Dead. I don't feel young any more"), she is still a teenager and vulnerable where her father and love for Touchstone are concerned, making her a sympathetic heroine. Rich, complex, involving, hard to put down, this first novel, an Australian import, is excellent high fantasy. The suitably climactic ending leaves no loose ends, but readers will hope for a sequel. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm not a believer in plot summaries full of spoilers in reviews, so I'll try to avoid too much of that. Sabriel does deal with necromancy and the dead quite a bit, which is why I believe it falls into the Dark Fantasy subgenre. That being said, the overall tone of the book is not dark although the heroine does face constant difficulties and challenges.
I would note this book is sort of in a crossover area of YA and Adult Fantasy. The heroine has just graduated from school and is fairly immediately pulled into a "fate of the world" type situation. Also, although there is a hint of romance in the plot, it's extremely minor and there is nothing explicit to the romance at all. With these two factors in mind, I see why it's often considered YA, but I would not let that stop you from reading it even if you generally avoid YA books.
I like that the magic system and universe is unique. The necromancy in this book is well fleshed out and is more focused on putting the dead to rest or keeping them dead rather than raising the dead. The necromancy is only one facet of the magic system, with at least two other fairly interesting magic systems at work (Charter and Free), as well as some nifty magical constructs. The cast of characters is fairly small but the characters that do appear are interesting and well developed.
Overall I really enjoyed this read and look forward to reading the sequels. I do think that if I'd first read this when I was younger I would have absolutely adored it. As an adult I still liked it quite a bit! It looks like there are also many other short stories, novellas, and novels set in the same universe (The Old Kingdom/Ancelstierre).
The protagonist, Sabriel, hails from a place called the Old Kingdom but has grown up and been educated in a boarding school across a Wall demarcating the Old Kingdom from a place that sounds a lot like the England of right around WWI (electric lights and telephones were available, and tanks had just been invented). This is very much a coming-of-age story, even though Sabriel has just finished her schooling (and so might be considered an adult). She has lived a fairly sheltered life at the school but is suddenly put into a position where she must venture out into the (to her) unknown Old Kingdom.
As such, Sabriel is a good proxy for the reader for exploring the Old Kingdom. She knows a little, but has been protected from much more. She realizes quickly how little about the Old Kingdom, or even about magic, she knows, and that makes her sympathetic (however, it seems with the appropriate amount of help, she can easily overcome her limitations). She has a couple of companions on her quest -- a cat who is not what he seems, and a young man who goes by the name of Touchstone. You do learn a bit more about each of them, as well, as the story goes on.
I felt like Sabriel's story followed a common pattern -- a young person is forced into undertaking a quest she's not really ready for, and yet she's the only person who can complete it. She rebels against it, but it's her destiny. (In Sabriel's case, rebellion largely involves refusing to be called by a title that is rightfully hers, and also in defining the quest as a mission to save her father when really something else is going on, too.)
My favorite part in this book was the journey. There is a lot of traveling and exploration. Normally I hate such things, but they were done really well here, and the surroundings changed in a way that constantly presented new challenges, which is something most authors don't get right. (I feel that Mr. Nix DID get it right, though.) This was a sort of world where I was interested in learning about the environment and history, and I thought it was nicely woven in to the overarching story. This also speaks to worldbuilding, of course, which I thought was quite good.
I don't have much to say about the writing. For me, anyway, it slid into the background and did its job of telling the story without being obnoxious. There were no repeated tics or verbal crutches that jumped out at me.
Magic was interesting and well-developed. There seemed to be three sorts. Charter Magic is basically the good (orderly?) stuff and can be used for protection, healing, etc. Necromancy can be good or bad, depending on who is wielding it and to what purpose (e.g., raising an army of the Dead or sending the Dead back into Death where they belong), and Necromancy can be constrained by Charter Magic. Free Magic is wild and perhaps unpredictable but can be harnessed. There are also some people who can see the future, but that may be an ability conferred by Charter Magic.
A few things didn't work for me, but they weren't dealbreakers. There is a romance that was predictable from a mile off and, in my mind, not set up as much as it should have been. Also, and I'm still not sure how I feel about this, but the final confrontation was odd. It was more of a series of tasks/confrontations. One takes place in Death and was over too quickly for my liking. The feeling of fear was never really all that palpable for me as few to no obstacles were encountered. The next confrontation follows immediately on its heels and I did feel there was a little more at stake, but it is also over quickly. The third confrontation was the biggest, and even in itself consisted of two incidents at separate sites. There were casualties, but I was never really in doubt that certain parties would survive. I did think the final resolution was clever and nicely set up based on events earlier in the book.
Overall, I was invested enough in the characters to see the book through (and quickly, I might add). I loved the world building and the journey and all the little details like the various bells used in Necromancy. I thought the magic system was great and I think there is a lot of potential for the future books that are set in this world.