Monday, September 11, 2006
Sabriel - Garth Nix [September/06]
I have had this book just sitting here waiting to be read for quite some time. So, I am glad I finally sat down with it. It really is a rather short book, you would be surprised how fast you can get through it, because it keeps you reading the whole time.
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 some reason this book has no description on the back or inside about what it is about. I think that is a stupid thing to do, to be honest, because some people are not going to buy it without knowing what it is about.
Anyways, this novel follows 18-year-old Sabriel on her adventures after receiving a very disturbing message from her father. She had lead a sheltered life up until then, and was not really aware of what was going on in the Old Kingdom, the place where she was born. She had lived outside the wall for many years, and her father only occassionally filled her in on what she was missing while being outside. So, when she had to go back there, she found herself on an adventure that she was totally unaware of. Since many Outsiders did not dare to cross the Wall, many people were unaware of what was going on in the Old Kingdom. This meant that Sabriel didn't know her history very well, and had to fill herself in as she went along.
This trilogy received the same sort of attention as Philip Pullman's trilogy, but if I have to be very honest, I liked this one better. I just never was able to get into Pullman's first novel, and as a result have stayed away from the other two books in the trilogy. I will get to them one day, but I would rather read the rest of this trilogy than return to Pullman.
Sabriel is a very human heroine. She gets the job done, but like regular folks she has to deal with fear and indecision. In many hero novels, the main character seems to be super-human, Sabriel is a character that would be easier to relate to. She also has to deal with the fact that if her father was dead, she was now a very powerful person in the Old Kingdom, something that she had never really thought of before and was not prepared to take on. There's even a little romance in the novel, but it is not the most important thing ever. Instead of the damsol in distress, Sabriel saves a young man that has been trapped in Death for about 200 years. I am afraid to say it, but romance just seems to be a given when things like this happen.
You will really enjoy this novel, I can safely say. It is well-written, and Sabriel is not an annoying heroine. She gets the job done, but at the same time has human failings. It makes her the better character to read about, I think. It is also the more interesting fantasy novel I have read with a Necromancer in the fore-front.