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Sabriel by Garth Nix
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Sabriel (1995)

by Garth Nix

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Old Kingdom / Abhorsen (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,126216504 (4.21)381
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    sandstone78: The roles of Chrestomanci and Abhorsen are similar- magicians who police the use of magic. Both books feature their protagonists growing into these roles.
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» See also 381 mentions

English (213)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (216)
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
While it is classified as a YA book, adults will enjoy this harrowing fantasy as well. ( )
  debs913 | Apr 2, 2016 |
Does the walker chose the path, or the path the walker? ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
Two of my biggest peeves in SFF are present in this book.

1) A magic system that remains vague and unexplained. I don't mind mysterious magic as long as it's a side dish; not tied to the main stakes. But if every major scene involves magic without rules? Fail. That's lazy world building. If anything can happen at any time, then the characters are never in danger and there's no real suspense.

2) A sarcastic, bitter, enslaved sidekick. I don't get the appeal. In science fiction, this character is often an A.I. or a spirit bonded to the main character. In "Sabriel," it's a demon type of thing in the form of a cat, bonded to Sabriel, the main character. He's basically her slave, and he's bitter and sarcastic. This type of character is usually enough to make me quit reading.

I don't see enough good in Sabriel to root for her. She doesn't struggle much. Magically powerful, an heiress, well-educated, lots of friends, and a pro at swordplay. Her skills are never grown or explained; we're just told that she's super talented. The quest to save her father could make her sympathetic, but she never seems to question the fact that she inherited spirit-slaves from her father. Her new slaves are depicted as endearing servants (or a sarcastic cat). This made it harder for me to like a character with the powers of a generic fantasy heroine.

So I stopped reading at the flood & paperwing scene.

This book has some cool setting details, and hints of interesting enemies. The prose is flowing and fast-paced. It will appeal to people who like epic fantasy that departs from the usual setting tropes--as long as you don't mind character tropes. ( )
  Abby_Goldsmith | Feb 10, 2016 |
These were fun books.
Sabriel is pretty much a stand-alone book, but the second two are really one novel - Lirael ends right smack in the middle on a cliffhanger, and Abhorsen starts right where it left off...
The trilogy gives us a dual world - one which very strongly resembles Britain in the early twentieth century - and then, across the Wall, the Old Kingdom, a magical land which is currently in a dire state of anarchy and seriously plagued by the Dead - which rise as zombies and make themselves the sort of nuisance that zombies generally do.
Sabriel has been raised at a girls' school in Ancelstierre (Britain), but has always been aware that her father is the Abhorsen, a powerful individual with magical influence over the Dead. But when her father disappears, and Sabriel sets out to find him, she realizes that she has never been aware of even half of her father's abilities and duties... duties which are now on her shoulders, as she realizes that more is at stake than merely her father's life...
The second story (Lirael/Abhorsen) takes place around 20 years later, and deals mostly with the next generation... of course, things are even worse, plots are afoot to bring about the end of the world, necromancers are causing problems, and our young protagonists, Lirael and Sam, must both discover who they truly are, find their path/calling in life, and, oh, save the world. With the help of the snarky magical cat (?), Mogget, and the Disreputable Dog. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Before reading this book I don't think I'd have been able to imagine how a story could be both action-packed and incredibly slow at the same time, and I honestly don't know if that's the book itself or just me. I found it fascinating already from the prologue, and the action starts very early on, but the severe lack of dialogue for the first 250 pages just made me feel like things were taking forever. The first half of the book took me three weeks; the last half took me a few hours. That aside, though, I ended up really loving it, and checked out the sequel within five minutes of finishing (reading on my break at work FTW). Excellent world-building, excellent protagonist, excellent cast of supporting characters. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Garth Nixprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curry, TimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kattelus, KaisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villari Gerli, FabriziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To my family and friends.
First words
It was little more than three miles from the Wall into the Old Kingdom, but that was enough.
Quotations
Sabriel digested this in silence, staring at the swirls of fish and sauce on her plate, silver scales and red tomato blurring into a pattern of swords and fire. The table blurred too, and the room beyond, and she felt herself reaching for the border with Death. But try as she might, she couldn’t cross it. She sensed it, but there was no way to cross, in either direction – Abhorsen’s House was too well protected. But she did feel something at the border. Inimical things lurked there, waiting for her to cross, but there was also the faintest thread of something familiar, like the scent of a woman’s perfume after she has left the room, or the waft of a particular pipe tobacco around a corner. Sabriel focused on it and threw herself once more at the barrier that separated her from Death. -- p.73
The marks became silver blades as they left her hand, mind and voice, flashing through the air swifter than any thrown dagger. -- p. 107
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Sabriel, the daughter of the Abhorsen (a 'lawfully-good' necromancer charged with putting the dead back into death) finds herself on a journey to find out what happened to her father after she is sent his necromancer's tools. At her father's house she meets a cat with strange and dangerous abilities, the sarcastic Mogget. She soon takes up her quest as an Abhorsen and finds that looking for her father is looking for trouble as she accepts her fate. But evil waits for her in Death...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0064471837, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:44 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Sabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead.

» see all 6 descriptions

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