Monday, October 10, 2011
(I know this is an older cover, but it's the one I first picked up and read - for nostalgia's sake!)
For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that treacherous world - and face the power of her own extraordinary destiny.
Beth says 5 Stars...
This book is perhaps the best example I have of an oldie, but a goodie... I can't believe I haven't reviewed it before! I remember the first time I read it that my mother came into my room at midnight to take it away from me since I wouldn't go to sleep until I finished it; that's how good it is. The setting feels like a real world, not just something created on a page. Nix manages to capture the pain and fragmentation of a nation in turmoil as if it existed alongside us. More than that, the plot just plain sucks you in. It goes back to having a fascinating story unlike anything else the readers have seen. The novel falls into some delightfully dark places without becoming terrifying. This I think, really shows in the representations of Death and how it can be conquered by the bells, but eventually must be surrendered to. I also have to mention the magic in the book because I adore the way it takes shape. The combination of the old, traditional mark system with the completely new mythology of the different bloodlines and the charter stones still makes this one of my all time favorite representations of magic.
Then we get to the characters, each of which finds a facet of awesome somehow. The most basic way to describe Sabriel is that she kicks ass. Not that she prefers fisticuffs, but her determination and ability to accomplish tasks no matter what makes her fabulous. I really connected with her because of her imperfections; she does get panicked and make wrong decisions. However, despite it all she has an ability to set herself aside and work things out for the good of everyone. Then we come to Touchstone, who half the time makes me want to hug him and the other time smack him. I think he becomes endearing once his relationship with Sabriel grows (although even at the beginning he's awkward in a cute way), and when you learn how much love and compassion he has for everyone. I'm going to leave off with perhaps my favorite character... Mogget. The sarcasm that drips off his every word makes me smile. He acts as a sort of acerbic reality check for Sabriel, which makes so much sense with the talking cat persona, and teaches her how to survive in the Old Kingdom. At least, when he's not trying to con her into taking off his collar or just flat out attempting to kill her.
This book is nothing new, but still absolutely amazing. If you love YA fantasy and haven't read it yet do so now. Sometimes I'm in the mood for the latest thing, but this is one I've read over and over again. Even though what I got from it at 12 is different from what I learned at 20, the story still haunts and captivates me after all of this time. This should be a classic example of how to create an intense and magical experience that you have to come back for again and again.