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Sabriel by Garth Nix
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Sabriel (original 1995; edition 2008)

by Garth Nix

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,446190597 (4.22)324
Member:stephmo
Title:Sabriel
Authors:Garth Nix
Info:HarperTeen (2008), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:listsofbests to get
Rating:
Tags:unowned, listsofbests, readingrants, teenreads.com ultimate reading list

Work details

Sabriel by Garth Nix (1995)

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» See also 324 mentions

English (187)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (190)
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
It was lovely to reread Sabriel. I think I read it quite a few times when I was younger, but luckily, Garth Nix seems to have lost none of his charm for me. It helps that he has a female protagonist who isn't perfect, who ends up with a near-broken nose, battered to bits, and still finds love -- but that love isn't the most important thing: the important thing, the thing Sabriel really has to accept, is the passing on of her father's duties to her, and her own entry into adulthood.

I enjoy the fact that no detail is wasted, too. The story could open with Sabriel crossing into the Old Kingdom: not much terribly important happens before that, just scene setting. But then it turns out to be important because the story cycles back to that location, because the previous Abhorsen knew it would from the Clayr -- and we get to see life on that side of the border, we see the people Sabriel's been raised with and how that interacts with what she has to become. And we see people that later will prove important: those innocent schoolgirls who are Charter Mages, who ultimately give up their life to help Sabriel, because that's the person she has to become, the person who accepts those lives as part of the cost of what she must do. They have a kind of strength that serves Sabriel well, both because she's been raised among them and because they then help her, even though she ends up so alien to them. And I like the little details, like the dying schoolgirl's touch to Sabriel's ankle which is ultimately what gives her the strength to fight on, or Horyse's vision of what's going to happen to him.

The nice thing about the UK ebook of this is that it contains some commentary from Garth Nix on the process of writing the story. It was interesting to have him point things out, like the focus on clothing, armour, weaponry, that adds the touch of realism -- I hadn't thought about that before. It can be a liiiittle jarring to read those at the end of chapters like that, but I'm glad that extra content was included anyway.

I think of the three books, this is actually my favourite. Lirael has its attractions too, but I'm most attached to Sabriel's character and the vitality of her romance with Touchstone -- I always thought that bite/kiss to keep them both in Life when her father rang Astarael was the most wonderful thing ever, and I still found that scene pretty powerful. ( )
2 vote shanaqui | Jun 24, 2014 |
A great fantasy novel that blends traditional elements to create an original voice. Sabriel, who has completed her schooling south of the Wall, discovers her father is missing and embarks on a journey to the Old Kingdom, a magical northern land above the Wall. As she journeys, she learns new things about herself, her father, and their unique roles in the Old Kingdom. Great reading. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jun 21, 2014 |
http://tinyurl.com/kf8rub3

I'm having a lot of mixed feelings about this book.

On the one hand, it is so refreshing to read a fantasy novel - especially one that aims at kids or teens - that doesn't pander to its audience. This novel starts off fast and does not let up. You miss something as you go, tough cookies (especially if you're reading an ebook and it's hard to return to prior parts of the novel...). I love that there's no extraneous description, but jeez, you better like this story right away - it flies at you fast and there is no room for "getting used to" anything.

On the other hand, I just couldn't get into the characters. They felt briefly sketched, not fully realized. Sabriel is one more in the long line of girls left by their parents to fend for themselves, with skills they weren't really aware of (magical skills, duh) and thrust into extraordinarily difficult situations whereby they have to use those skills.

In trying to pinpoint what I specifically disliked, I think it's the lack of angst on the part of Sabriel. That's an odd thing for me to say because I have very little sympathy for whiny heroines, but even though there's some guilt and some sadness and some frustration, it didn't seem like a girl with this set of problems should be so, well, put together. Again, I think this may be the speed problem - "just like her right off the bat, darn it, because there's a lot more for me to tell you."

One of my fave Goodreads reviewers says the second book is better than the first, so I'll try that one in a bit. Hopefully, I'll like it a little more. ( )
  khage | Jun 16, 2014 |
This is by far the best of the three. I had this book on its own for a few years before I read the others and it could stand on its own even though you were dying to know what happened to them next. The story is well-written, the characters are interesting and feel like your own friends and family and it is well described, particularly the scenes where certain people cross back and forth through death. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end! ( )
  IceMaiden786 | May 31, 2014 |
Random Thoughts

Just plain adored Mogget - such an intriguing little feline (and also gets some of the best dialogue)
Excellent world building
Chapters Jen told me about this one - she had me hooked at Tim Curry narrates. Didn't even look at what the book was about, just wanted Tim to read to me. Don't worry Garth, I ended up truly enjoying the characters, the world and the dialogue.
Sorry cannot lie, the cover is blah and I probably would have walked by it with not a second glance.
Tim Curry narrates - that is enough reason to listen to (On that note, best not listen to this at 11:15pm on a foggy night - trust me!)
A delightful, magical tale that I wish I had known about earlier
Sabriel is a delightfully flawed, rich character
Doesn't pander to the young reader. This is dark and nasty absolutely wonderful
Appreciated the fact that how their magical world exists is just matter of fact and never explained. And also doesn't go into much detail (which is why I usually don't read fantasy)
Cannot wait to listen to the next installment
Mogget voiced by Tim Curry - divine!

Memorable Quotes (sorry not many, a total pain in the ass to do quotes on audio books)

"I love you," he whispered. "I hope you don't mind.”

“Fear and realisation of ignorance, strong medicines against stupid pride.”

4 Dewey's

I borrowed this from the Calgary Public Library, but it is also available from Audible ( )
  mountie9 | May 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Garth Nixprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curry, TimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kattelus, KaisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:10 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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