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Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen (Old Kingdom) by…

Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen (Old Kingdom) (edition 2014)

by Garth Nix (Author)

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6223115,671 (3.83)52
Title:Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen (Old Kingdom)
Authors:Garth Nix (Author)
Info:HarperCollins (2014), Edition: 1st, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:fiction, young adult, series, fantasy

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Clariel by Garth Nix



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i was a great fan of the Abhorsen trilogy. So I listened to Clariel,but the story didn't engage me until nearly half-way through. This could be because Clariel is a bit of a difficult character to like and engage with, but I perservered and Clariel gradually came to life as a conflicted, strong willed character with whom I sympathized, as I started to get into the book.
Again, this wasn't my favorite Abhorsen novel but I certainly enjoyed this audio book

Jack Murphy ( )
  urph818 | Apr 20, 2017 |
"A passion thwarted will oft go astray."

Clariel by Garth Nix is the fourth book publication wise in the Old Kingdom series though technically it is a prequel to Sabriel. The story is set roughly 600 years before the birth of Sabriel. The world definitely has a different feel to it. Gone is the feeling of menace and dread. In it's place you can see how the world and it's peoples have become complacent during a long period of peace. The Abhorsen is more concerned with going on Great Hunts than protecting the kingdom since there's been no sign of the Dead in many years. The current King has refused to rule and locked himself in his castle, forcing the people to fend for themselves. The Guilds have taken the opportunity to seize power and enforce their will upon the populace. The story is set almost entirely in the city of Belisaere with no mention at all of Ancelstierre.

Just as the world has an entirely different feel, Clariel is an entirely different story. It is a hero journey that goes tragically wrong. A common phrase from the previous trilogy is repeated here and takes on new meaning: "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?" Clariel wants nothing more than to live a simple life in the Great Forest in Estwael. This one simple wish is denied over and over again, first by her parents trying to marry her off to a murderer, then by being caught up in the politics of the Guilds in the city and again through the wiles of Free Magic creatures. Clariel is offered little choice in any of these situations and it's no wonder it takes her down a destructive path.

It took a while for Clariel to grow on me. Having read the original trilogy fairly recently, I was used to the obvious heroism of Sabriel and Lirael so was a bit of a shock that Clariel was not like them at all. She's very self absorbed and completely focused on her dream of a simple life. Her family and society sees her only as a child of a noble house to be married off for political gain. It's no wonder that Clariel focuses mostly on her dreams even though they never come true. She ends on a dark path indeed. It's also a fun easter egg for fans to realize just who's back story we're reading.

I think this is one of those books that benefits by having read the original trilogy first. While it is an interesting story and has themes that any new reader to the series can identify with - what happens if one gives in anger and the temptation of power - by having Sabriel and Lirael's stories to compare to is what makes Clariel more poignant. ( )
  Narilka | Feb 2, 2017 |
Epic spolier. I was about to start reading it , dropped the book. Picking it up it opened to the last couple of pages , where the afterword is. Read the first line of the afterword ( was already in my sort of ' flash - read ' mode ) POW !!! Whole book spoiled. ... ... ...
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
Clariel. Oh, Clariel. I wanted to love Clariel (the book or the character? yes.) but I just can't. Spoilers, of course, abound.

Part of it is that Clariel herself is just not a character type I get along well with. I really dislike characters who hate everything about the high society of their culture and refuse to even try to fit in (can't we have a main character who loves court balls and swords?), which Clariel is.

There's deeper problems, though: Clariel's motivation, a lot of the characterization in general, some of the tone, and the pacing of the book. Clariel's motivation is almost entirely that she wants to be left in peace in her forest, which is not particularly compelling, especially since it never changes or becomes more complicated.

I also find, having let the book sit for a while, that I would have preferred her to have taken up Free Magic on purpose, rather than accidentally. Clariel uses Free Magic with the best of intentions - she wants to save the King and be free, and Free Magic is the only way to do that. Even at the end, when she's going North to be beyond the Charter, she wants to be a good person, even if she is contemplating becoming a necromancer.

When we see her in Lirael she's a malignant figure of pure evil, and even with six centuries of Free Magic corrupting her, I find it hard to believe that the naive, impulsive girl we see in Clariel could ever have gotten there. Contrafactual reviewing - talking about the book you wanted rather than the book you have - is never good, but: wouldn't it be more interesting to see her become warped by the society or by something in her personality rather than just by magic? It would, of course, be harder to make us feel compassion for a bad person, but therein lies the challenge and the interest.

As for characterization: I didn't like Clariel very much either as a person or a character, but, as I said, that's mainly because she plays into a lot of tropes I really dislike. Her parents, though, were fairly badly handled. Her mother, Jaciel, is the head (or some other very highly placed official) of the goldsmiths' guild, but she's really bad at politics and keeping her silence, which doesn't make any sense. Skill can only get you so far, in what is a political position.

It turns out that the odious boy Clariel is supposed to marry is using Free Magic to make his masterwork. Jaciel finds out, and instead of hiding that she knows or doing anything reasonable, she accuses him while she's surrounded by his father's guards. Which leads to a very well-executed scene - but that doesn't help the fact that it was a really stupid thing to do, by a character who's supposed to be absorbed in her work, but not stupid.

I also have some problems with Mogget's characterization, or rather making his characterization jibe with his earlier characterization. He's always been fairly neutral as a character, helping the Abhorsens only because he's bound to, though he does seem to have at least some affection for Sabriel. In this he's actively malicious, lying as much as he able to. Which I think Nix explains by saying that he's been ignored by the Abhorsens, so his Free Magic nature is stronger, but leaning on Free Magic to explain faults of characterization is really weak.

In general, he painted with fairly broad strokes - you knew the evil people were evil, you knew the good people were good. Which isn't necessarily a fault, except that he was trying to be subtle in the beginning. You can't do a sneaky court intrigue book, which part of this was, if the sides are obvious.
(I'm not sure what this falls under, but there were also a couple of times where Clariel demands to know what's going on and people knuckle under pretty quickly. Keeping her in the dark doesn't really make sense, but having people try to keep her in the dark and then give in really quickly when she asks them direct questions is creating unnecessary conflict.)

The pacing was probably the biggest flaw, and is tied into the tone problems I had. Clariel is about 400 pages long, and I felt as though I was in the setup stage until around page 275. There was too much time spent on miscellaneous action in Belisaere, including an unnecessary school scene or two (what was the point of Yaneem, a needlessly unpleasant girl? there was none) and much too little on Clariel's descent into well-meaning evil.

So, the tone. Again, this is contrafactual, but this definitely wanted to be a much darker book than it was. I was going to say that it was held back by being YA - but so was Sabriel, and that was much darker. Clariel is essentially good, and any corruption in her is due to her bloodline and exposure to Free Magic; her character was very straightforward and uncomplicated. And sure, both her parents get killed in a bloody way, but that jarred with the tone of the book up to then - which was fairly light. There are ways to have contrasting tones in a book, but I don't think he did particularly well here. I think it needed to be a court intrigue book, and that's very hard to do when none of your main characters are at all sneaky.

The thing is, though, that I did enjoy it very much. There were a couple of really great scenes and some pretty darn badass magic, and I do love coming back to the Old Kingdom. It's just so much weaker than the other three. I tried to love it, really I did. ( )
  elucubrare | Dec 29, 2016 |
While the original Old Kingdom trilogy ranks among my most beloved fantasy stories and worlds, Clariel didn't ring true for me. I feel like most of this novel was filler to work out her backstory prior to the next book, Goldenhand, and the interesting material in it could have been better utilized as flashback scenes in Goldenhand instead of a standalone novel. That magical touch just isn't here for me. ( )
  stormyhearted | Nov 26, 2016 |
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To Anna, Thomas and Edward,
and all my family and friends
to the memory of poet, kind-hearted
cynic and good friend
Andrew Etheridge
1963 - 2012
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Old Marrel the fisherman lived in one of the oddest parts of Belisaere, the ancient capital of the Old Kingdom.
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