Sabriel by Garth Nix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I wrote a wee bit about my thoughts on this book as I read, for I did not trust my foggy brain to keep up with them if I waited until the last minute.
*I like the juxtaposition of 20th Century (early) Ancelstierre with a medieval-esque world of the Old Kingdom. It threw me for a loop at first, how the prologue was very medieval (pre-Industrial), and the first chapter was modernesque. I was thinking, are they immortal or something? But further reading clears that up.
*I don't read as much pure fantasy (which I am working on changing), but this magic system stands out to me. The Charter concept. The magic system is based on sketching out these symbols that have a magical power behind them. They can also be whistled or sung, if bells are not available.
*There are some geniuinely creepy elements that make this story borderline horrific, if not dark fantasy in tone. There were moments that held me breathless, my stomach tight with dread. I like the manner in which Nix incorporates zombies. Zombies are not a favorite horror element of mine. But this type of zombie is scary, because the emphasis is on the dark spiritual (if you will) aspects. The ability of dark Charter mages to command spirits to come back from the realms of the Dead, binding them in service. Dark stuff. The loss of free will is a big sticking point with me. Nix succeeds in unnerving me in a deeper way, and doesn't focus on the gory, squeamish aspects of zombies that repel rather than cause the fear response.
*The author's ability to describe and propel the narrative without being too dense. I like a more natural, simplistic form of prose when I'm reading. That is what has kept me from starting some of the magic fantasy sagas, thus far.
*The welcome elements of subtle humor. Mogget is a spirit in the form of a cat. He could not be more feline in personality. I love this scene:
Mogget had no time for such introspection, mourning or pangs of responsibility. He left her watching, blank-eyed, for no more than minute, before padding forward and delicately inserting his claws in Sabriel's slippered foot..
That's exactly what one of my cats would do to get my attention. Haha.
So far, I'm enjoying this read. I didn't even turn on my computer and get on Goodreads last night. I just read my book. And I turned off the tv to better concentrate.
That's it for now...
Okay, I finished this book after 1am this morning. I loved it. It was intense, it was moving, it was written in a manner that allowed the story to flow, but with a richness of detail that made it visually stunning as I read. The magic was fascinating. Intricate, but written so that the reader doesn't feel clueless.
I absolutely loved Sabriel. She's a strong girl. She went through such a harrowing experience. I mean, there are some truly dark moments in this story. Her father must have been so proud of her. I know I was.
Although the book doesn't really show Sabriel with her father, (the present Abhorsen (a person who sends the restless dead back where they belong), all that much, I loved the relationship between the two. A rich father-daughter relationship always appeals in a story, and I think readers of a similar mind will enjoy this part of the book.
For many years, I didn't read fantasy. I am sad about that, and resolved to make up for lost time. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance rekindled my childhood love of this genre. This book has truly lit me on fire to read more fantasy. I was drawn to the heroism, but also the ambiguity of this world, where the power of magic has the power to corrupt those who are not strong of mind and spirit. I'm drawn to a story where the heroine is on a journey that tests her spirit, and she comes out of it a stronger, wiser person. Sabriel definitely fits the bill for that kind of story.
Although Sabriel is the major focus of this story, I felt that Mogget and Touchstone were strong characters that added to the texture of this story. The light romantic elements between Sabriel and Touchstone were more than welcome.
Sabriel was a vivid, captivating, often scary introduction to the Abhorsen series, and my first read by Garth Nix. It will not be my last.
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