Breathtaking novel, the first of a trilogy, from a brilliant newcomer to the Collins fiction list.
Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. After receiving a cryptic message from her father, 18-year-old Sabriel leaves her ordinary school and returns across the Wall 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 – for her father is none other than The Abhorson. His task is to lay 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 challenges whilst discovering her own supernatural abilities – and her destiny.
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Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Charter-Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that world. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There, she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life - and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.Review:
This may be the first book of yet another "cross-over" fantasy trilogy--theoretically equally appealing to both children and adult readers--but thankfully Sabriel has enough verve and panache about it to reach just such a wide readership and to ensure that author Garth Nix has created a bandwagon all of his own. Constantly rich and meaty, the story is intriguing from the off. Page by page the tension builds and draws you into a highly imaginative landscape that has familiarity and originality in equal measures.
Sabriel attends Wyverley Girls College in Ancelstierre (Nix's version of normal) and has recently graduated with runaway firsts in every subject. But her particular school has certain extra-curricular activities, like the learning of Magic, because of its proximity to the Wall which marks Ancelstierre's border with the Old Kingdom. Over the wall, life is very different and the use of magic is commonplace. Then, on the edge of death, Sabriel's father, Abhorson, sends her a cryptic message that means she must venture into the Old Kingdom and calm the storm that is brewing there, and which will surely multiply at her father's passing. Refusing to accept his fate, Sabriel inherits the tools of her father's trade and his name. Her new duty is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest with the help of seven powerful bells worn across the chest. Sabriel seeks her father's slayer in a mammoth journey that is hindered by dark magic, monsters-a-plenty and shadowy unsubstantial evils.
The narrative builds into a luxurious tale of good versus evil, with a re-assuringly likeable central character to take us through it all. Nix's writing is solid and well-planned, his prose convincing and rounded. Make a note to look up the sequels Lirael and Abhorsen in due course--they're unlikely to disappoint. (Ages 10 and over)--John McLay
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Book Description Harpercollins, 1996. Library Binding. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060273232