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Review Time: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Garth Nix has to be one of my favourite authors. His ideas are always so creative and I love reading his work. His Keys to the Kingdom series was one of the first book series I read! Sabriel was a birthday present back in my single digit years (I was an advanced reader) and I have always loved reading it.

“Death and what came after death was no great mystery to Sabriel. She just wished it was.”

Garth Nix, Sabriel

Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a powerful person who protects the gates of death against the return of dead spirits back into life. The concept of the Abhorsen is intriguing, as they use bells to amplify their powers and stop the dead from coming back into life. The bells are called Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth, and Astarael. Each bells has its own power, such as Ranna being able to cause listeners to fall asleep and Saraneth being able to bind the dead to death.

Sabriel attended Wyverly College in Ancelstierre, across the wall, in the start of the book. She soon receives the Abhorsen’s bandelier of bells, the Abhorsen’s sword and a map of the Old Kingdom after her father is trapped in Death. She’s instructed to take on the mantle of Abhorsen and deafet Kerrigor, a powerful Free Magic necromancer, who is attempting to make his way back into Life.

She crosses the Wall and enters the Old Kingdom, making her way to the Abhorsen’s House. There, she meets Mogget, a Free Magic spirit that takes the form of a white cat. Mogget accompanies Sabriel on her journey to find her father.

On their journey, they end up in the historical burial place of the royal family, and discover a figurehead on one of the boats that isn’t a wooden carving, but actually a man, who has been imprisoned for two hundred years. Sabriel releases him and he asks to be called Touchstone, a jester’s name (taken from Shakespeare).

Sabriel, Touchstone, and Mogget continue on to find the Abhorsen – and I won’t say too much about what happens next because you should definitely go and read it and find out the ending on your own!

It’s quite an intriguing story that does suck you in. The characters are diverse and their different personalities work well in the story. Sabriel is the primary main character while Touchstone and Mogget are secondary main characters. The story focuses on Sabriel and her journey to find her father.

They are all quite believable characters in a very fantastical world. Sabriel is determined to find her father, as any child would be, and Touchstone is like her rock –supporting her in her journey. They often fight against creatures together and Sabriel learns how to be an Abhorsen through these experiences.

“He growled and grimaced as they came to him, and clenched his fists in pain and anger.
“Unusual name,” commented Mogget. “More of a bear’s name, that growl.”

Garth Nix, Sabriel

Mogget, the sassy little Free Magic spirit bound as a cat, is my favorite in the story. He is quick to comment and is cynical and sarcastic. He has a comment on basically everything and his humour is dry. He is quite cynical and rough, which I think is why I’m so drawn to him.

His comments are hilarious and always fit perfectly into the situation. I have the same humour as Mogget and I love when he says whatever he’s thinking. He brings more depth and humour into a rather dark story.

I really enjoyed reading Sabriel when I first received it, and I still really enjoy it. It’s an interesting book with a unique concept and it’s fun to get drawn into their world. Reading about the bells and how the Old Kingdom works was really interesting and I love how exceptional the concept was.

My favourite part of the book is actually when Sabriel loosens Mogget’s collar for the first time. He turns murderous and tries to kill Sabriel, but she manages to stop him and rebind him. It’s the first time you get to see Mogget as he really is and it’s a shock to see him wanting to kill Sabriel so intently.

It’s a really amazing YA fantasy novel and I’d recommend reading it. I still enjoy going through the book and getting enraptured in the story.

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