» » Abhorsen (Old Kingdom)

Download Abhorsen (Old Kingdom) epub

by Garth Nix

The apocalyptic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Abhorsen series—an epic fantasy experience not to be missed.

The Abhorsen Sabriel and King Touchstone are missing, leaving only Lirael—newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting—to stop the Destroyer. If Orannis's unspeakable powers are unleashed, it will mean the end of all Life. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the help of her companions, Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the evil destructor—before it is too late. . . .

Download Abhorsen (Old Kingdom) epub
ISBN: 0060528737
ISBN13: 978-0060528737
Category: Fantasy
Subcategory: Fantasy
Author: Garth Nix
Language: English
Publisher: HarperTeen (January 20, 2004)
Pages: 518 pages
ePUB size: 1171 kb
FB2 size: 1345 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 847
Other Formats: mbr mobi lrf doc

I bought this when it was on special and picked it up without knowing pretty much anything about it. But it drew me in quickly and after I finished, I immediately bought the next volume, and those are two great indicators in terms of how I should rate a book.

The protagonist, Sabriel, hails from a place called the Old Kingdom but has grown up and been educated in a boarding school across a Wall demarcating the Old Kingdom from a place that sounds a lot like the England of right around WWI (electric lights and telephones were available, and tanks had just been invented). This is very much a coming-of-age story, even though Sabriel has just finished her schooling (and so might be considered an adult). She has lived a fairly sheltered life at the school but is suddenly put into a position where she must venture out into the (to her) unknown Old Kingdom.

As such, Sabriel is a good proxy for the reader for exploring the Old Kingdom. She knows a little, but has been protected from much more. She realizes quickly how little about the Old Kingdom, or even about magic, she knows, and that makes her sympathetic (however, it seems with the appropriate amount of help, she can easily overcome her limitations). She has a couple of companions on her quest -- a cat who is not what he seems, and a young man who goes by the name of Touchstone. You do learn a bit more about each of them, as well, as the story goes on.

I felt like Sabriel's story followed a common pattern -- a young person is forced into undertaking a quest she's not really ready for, and yet she's the only person who can complete it. She rebels against it, but it's her destiny. (In Sabriel's case, rebellion largely involves refusing to be called by a title that is rightfully hers, and also in defining the quest as a mission to save her father when really something else is going on, too.)

My favorite part in this book was the journey. There is a lot of traveling and exploration. Normally I hate such things, but they were done really well here, and the surroundings changed in a way that constantly presented new challenges, which is something most authors don't get right. (I feel that Mr. Nix DID get it right, though.) This was a sort of world where I was interested in learning about the environment and history, and I thought it was nicely woven in to the overarching story. This also speaks to worldbuilding, of course, which I thought was quite good.

I don't have much to say about the writing. For me, anyway, it slid into the background and did its job of telling the story without being obnoxious. There were no repeated tics or verbal crutches that jumped out at me.

Magic was interesting and well-developed. There seemed to be three sorts. Charter Magic is basically the good (orderly?) stuff and can be used for protection, healing, etc. Necromancy can be good or bad, depending on who is wielding it and to what purpose (e.g., raising an army of the Dead or sending the Dead back into Death where they belong), and Necromancy can be constrained by Charter Magic. Free Magic is wild and perhaps unpredictable but can be harnessed. There are also some people who can see the future, but that may be an ability conferred by Charter Magic.

A few things didn't work for me, but they weren't dealbreakers. There is a romance that was predictable from a mile off and, in my mind, not set up as much as it should have been. Also, and I'm still not sure how I feel about this, but the final confrontation was odd. It was more of a series of tasks/confrontations. One takes place in Death and was over too quickly for my liking. The feeling of fear was never really all that palpable for me as few to no obstacles were encountered. The next confrontation follows immediately on its heels and I did feel there was a little more at stake, but it is also over quickly. The third confrontation was the biggest, and even in itself consisted of two incidents at separate sites. There were casualties, but I was never really in doubt that certain parties would survive. I did think the final resolution was clever and nicely set up based on events earlier in the book.

Overall, I was invested enough in the characters to see the book through (and quickly, I might add). I loved the world building and the journey and all the little details like the various bells used in Necromancy. I thought the magic system was great and I think there is a lot of potential for the future books that are set in this world.
This Old Kingdom trilogy has to be one of the best Fantasy series I have read. The world Garth Nix creates is truly original and enthralling. I loved the build-up from 'Sabriel' to 'Lirael' to the climax of 'Abhorsen', in which the Charter mages attempt to bind and break, Orannis, the Destroyer; who plans to kill all Life and rule over a kingdom of the Dead. To do this, Lirael must enter the river of Death and there use the bells and the sword Nahima at great risk to herself. Unlike some readers, I always felt that Lirael was the strongest and most interesting character in the series. In 'Abhorsen' she fully grows into her role as the Abhorsen-in-waiting, when together with the help of her faithful Dog she finds the courage to face Death.
I found the descriptions of the Nine Gates in the darkly misted river of Death as fascinating as the clear, icy beauty of the Clayr Glacier in the previous book. The author's descriptive prose is magical. His characters are also captivating, both human and creatures. I loved both Mogget, the cynical cat, and the loyal Disreputable Dog.
Without giving anything away, I found the conclusion unexpected, and satisfying; even though it brought a tearful reaction.
Wonderful world-building. Engrossing storyline.
I picked up the Kindle edition of Garth Nix's Sabriel to fulfill a "Dark Fantasy" requirement of a reading challenge. I believe it did fulfill that role, technically, although it didn't feel that "dark" to me.

I'm not a believer in plot summaries full of spoilers in reviews, so I'll try to avoid too much of that. Sabriel does deal with necromancy and the dead quite a bit, which is why I believe it falls into the Dark Fantasy subgenre. That being said, the overall tone of the book is not dark although the heroine does face constant difficulties and challenges.

I would note this book is sort of in a crossover area of YA and Adult Fantasy. The heroine has just graduated from school and is fairly immediately pulled into a "fate of the world" type situation. Also, although there is a hint of romance in the plot, it's extremely minor and there is nothing explicit to the romance at all. With these two factors in mind, I see why it's often considered YA, but I would not let that stop you from reading it even if you generally avoid YA books.

I like that the magic system and universe is unique. The necromancy in this book is well fleshed out and is more focused on putting the dead to rest or keeping them dead rather than raising the dead. The necromancy is only one facet of the magic system, with at least two other fairly interesting magic systems at work (Charter and Free), as well as some nifty magical constructs. The cast of characters is fairly small but the characters that do appear are interesting and well developed.

Overall I really enjoyed this read and look forward to reading the sequels. I do think that if I'd first read this when I was younger I would have absolutely adored it. As an adult I still liked it quite a bit! It looks like there are also many other short stories, novellas, and novels set in the same universe (The Old Kingdom/Ancelstierre).