Book Reviews of Sabriel

Sabriel
Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
ISBN-13: 9780007137312
ISBN-10: 0007137311
Publication Date: 5/6/2003
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating:
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 6

4.3 stars, based on 6 ratings
Publisher: Harpercollins Pub Ltd
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

42 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Sabriel on + 76 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This is one of those books that throws you into the deep end of the pool instead of letting you wade in. If you can immerse yourself in the story of a young woman struggling to save her father and fufill a difficult destiny, and not worry about how the magic of the Old Kingdom works, you'll be in for a great read. Oh, and if you don't fall in love with the smart-alec Mogget, your sense of humor needs a tune-up.
reviewed Sabriel on
Helpful Score: 5
Absolutely loved it! One of my favorite series of all time. Not a big fan of any of his other books though. Something about this one just sucked me in. Had to buy the last in the series as a hardback and I never buy hardback(too expensive!. Glad I did because the last surpasses the first!!
reviewed Sabriel on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
At first glance this book didn't seem that promising but after reading literally the first pages I was hooked! Pulls you from start to finish and thankfully there's the rest of the trilogy to read. Characters that remain in your heart even after the story is done (gotta love that Mogget). Enjoyed the refreshing concept of the gates (rivers) into the world of the dead and how they are accessed by using bells. Love the idea of an Abhorsen (sorcerer who returns the dead) as opposite to a Necromancer (sorcerer who's brings back the dead) and adore the explanation of "Free Magic" and the dimensions of the two worlds. Very well written book resonates very much with my "woo woo" ways. This trilogy is part of my all time favorites!

ETA: Would make a thrilling Movie!
reviewed Sabriel on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Reviewed by Candace Cunard for TeensReadToo.com

The first thing that hit me when I finished reading this book was that I should have read it much sooner. I'd been meaning to read it for the past six or seven years but never quite getting around to it--and that was a mistake. In SABRIEL, Garth Nix introduces the reader to a compelling fantasy world that comes alive through the actions of the title character and others.

The Old Kingdom is a place of magic, both Charter magic, wielded by those with some connection to the ancient Charter that bound magic to benevolent purposes, and Free Magic, the creatures that escaped the binding and defy the Charter. Free Magic is also used by necromancers desiring to defy the Charter by animating dead bodies. Only one person, the Abhorsen, combines use of Charter and Free Magic for the purpose of returning dead spirits to their final rest and dead bodies to their graves. As the Abhorsen's daughter, and herself Abhorsen-in-Waiting, Sabriel must learn how to use the Abhorsen's tools to venture into Death and bind destructive spirits so they cannot cause harm to others.

However, things in the Old Kingdom are becoming more and more dangerous by the minute, and as a result Sabriel grows up in Ancelstierre, the Old Kingdom's southern neighbor, close enough to the border that she is able to learn and practice Charter Magic, but far enough removed that she is ignorant of the customs and traditions of her home country. The story begins when eighteen-year-old Sabriel, about to finish preparatory school in Ancelstierre, receives a messenger from her father, carrying the bells and sword of the Abhorsen, a signal that he is in danger and requires her help. Sabriel must cross over into the Old Kingdom, a place she knows little about, and somehow find a way to save her father from whatever fate has befallen him before his spirit is pulled too far into Death. Along the way, she meets a fickle magical spirit in the form of a talking cat named Mogget, the traditional helpmeet of a long line of Abhorsens, and a former Royal Guard called Touchstone who has been frozen in the form of a ship's figurehead for the past two hundred years. Together, Sabriel, Mogget, and Touchstone journey through the Old Kingdom as they learn more about the necromancer who has tried to kill Sabriel's father and who will wreak destruction upon the land on both sides of the border if they cannot stop him.

Nix's writing is lean and easy to read, creating characters whose thoughts are clear and whose motives are intensely human. The relationship that develops between Sabriel and Touchstone is emotionally real and rich, and I enjoyed reading about all of their interactions. Even secondary characters are detailed and have personalities of their own. I was also impressed by Nix's concept of magic, which is deeper and more textured than the point-and-spell world of Harry Potter or countless other similar stories (although this book will certainly appeal to fans of the former class of fantasy). In the Old Kingdom, performing magic depends upon a deep knowledge of the required Charter marks, and in Sabriel's case, upon her mastery of the seven bells that assist the necromancer's trade by helping command the dead. This book is truly original--I have not seen anything like it before.
reviewed Sabriel on + 71 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I purchased this book on a whim, not knowing anything about it save for the writing on the back cover, which really didn't say much about the story. For some reason, the publisher didn't categorize it as "Fantasy" tho it most definitely is. And what a good story it is! I think I would have liked a bit more information in the prologue regarding "Charter Magic" - referred to quite often in the story, along with a few other confusing things. However, that said, I had a hard time putting the book down. In fact, at the time I started reading it, I was already reading three other books! (I do this sometimes, just to take a break from one story or another...) I ended up leaving the other books alone and read Sabriel to it's conclusion.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about magic, heroines & battles against demons and the like. The author, Garth Nix has done a great job on this, his first book published in 1995.
reviewed Sabriel on + 774 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
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.
reviewed Sabriel on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of my favorite books of all time.
Maybe a little dark, with Sabriel entering "Death".
However, the story is very fast moving and exciting.
I have now become a Garth Nix fanatic!
reviewed Sabriel on + 897 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Sabriel was recommended by my 11-year-old granddaughter who read the entire series. I give it 5 stars for this age group. The heroine is admirable, young, adventurous, and full of the type of courage it takes to complete difficult tasks. Attending school away from the Old Kingdom, Sabriel receives a message from her father, the Abhorsen who protects their world from the Dead. Sabriel discovers her father has gone into death where she must follow to obtain his help to safeguard the world and protect it from Kerrigor, the most fearsome and gruesome of the Dead. The action is fast-paced and Sabriel finds a hero, Touchstone, to work with her in her efforts. Together, the two battle the Dead and their leader, Kerrigor, working with other mages, soldiers and people. The book is imaginative, fun to read, full of magic, hope and even love. It's a very good read.
reviewed Sabriel on + 103 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Brian loved it; he actually stayed up all night to finish it because it was so enthralling. I wasn't as impressed. He was intrigued becaue there are 2 parts to the Kingdom and they are in totally different stages of progression (1 is practically medeival while the other is liek the early 1900s). I liked it, but found it lacking.
reviewed Sabriel on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book. Though not made for a casual reader. It hooks you like almost nothing else.
reviewed Sabriel on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a really neat book I enjoyed quite a bit. Definitly different from other fantasies I've read. I'd really like to read the rest of the Abhorsen series!
reviewed Sabriel on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
"Sabriel" is deliciously dark and spooky, yet not over-the-top. It's incredibly engaging - don't pick this up unless you're willing to sacrifice an entire evening to reading the entire thing, it's that good!
reviewed Sabriel on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A great original fantasy series without your typical world. Dark magic, modern world meshing with fantasy, and a fantastic quest. Hard to put down until it's finished, and by that I mean the whole series.
reviewed Sabriel on + 412 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
First in the Abhorsen fantasy series, and...WOW! I absolutely loved this book and found it very difficult to put down. This book has been on my shelf for months if not years. My daughter recommended it to me at least a year ago. Why did I not listen and read it sooner? LOL Sabriel, daughter of The Abhorsen, a powerful necromancer who fights the dead, finishes high school in Anglesierre on the other side of the magical wall and is summoned to her birthplace, The Old Kingdom, by the spirit of her father. She has become the Abhorsen until she can free his spirit from Death...IF indeed she can do so. Under-trained, unknowledgeable about what's been happening in her homeland, she sets out on a journey to save her father and meets some interesting characters and creatures along the way.
reviewed Sabriel on + 7 more book reviews
Honest to God this was the book that really got me reading again.
I picked up this book because I was so intrigued by the illustration, and I was more than surprised - I was hooked!

Great characters,very fun and exciting.

This book is different the typical fantasy book that just ripps-off Tolkein. Highly recomended.
reviewed Sabriel on + 959 more book reviews
This high-fantasy quest novel barrels along at a dead run for 500 pages as the young heroine searches for her father, a powerful necromancer held prisoner between Life and Death by the resident evil. Interesting background, involving multiple magical systems and the bleedover between worlds.
reviewed Sabriel on + 39 more book reviews
LOVE IT!!!!!
I think there are 2 different versions, one for adults, and one for tweens. Not sure which I have.
reviewed Sabriel on + 7 more book reviews
Excellent series.
reviewed Sabriel on + 2 more book reviews
We are almost finished with the book. We really like it. and can't wait to read the final book in the trilogy.
reviewed Sabriel on + 2 more book reviews
This is one of my favorite books of all time--- I highly recommend it! It says young readers, but it is a great book no matter how old you are.
reviewed Sabriel on
From Amazon:
"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."

Wonderful read, if you like fantasy this is a great trilogy (1 of 3)
reviewed Sabriel on + 185 more book reviews
I get why a ton of people love this book. The magic system is incredibly well-developed and fairly interesting -- I may not like magic that works by a system of arbitrary rules, but I know plenty of people who read just for such things. The plot is fast-paced -- I may be tired of stories where the all of the conflict derives from the protagonist not having information that everyone else in the story has, but again, I am aware that this is simply one of my own person pet peeves. And, of course, while recent years have started remedying the defect, we have a long way to go before I start complaining about reading about too many spunky heroines, even if they're only sketchily developed.

But there were too many little things that annoyed me about this book for me to love it, or even really like it, despite the fact that I blew through it in half a day.

To start, while it's clear that Nix spent a lot of time developing the magic system, with its Charter Magic vs. Free Magic and bell ringing necromancy, I would have enjoyed the book more had he spent just as much time developing the rest of the world. The Old Kingdom is vaguely medieval England; Ancelstierre is vaguely early-20th century England; but neither place feels like more than a bare-bones sketch. And while Nix was apparently trying for a pseudo-England with more gender equality (Sabriel is takes classes in both fighting and etiquette at her posh all-girls boarding school, and it's clear that gender is no bar to Sabriel being respected as the Abhorsen) his imagination seemed to fail him in really extrapolating how different that world might be. So, for instance, there are still mores against unmarried men and women traveling together -- mores that include placing the blame all on the female partner -- and every person with any power Sabriel meets is male, and she's surprised when she finds a dead mage who is female. (The book passes the Bechdel Test on the strength of two half-page long conversations Sabriel has with female children.) The world is also strangely empty of people, which is all the more noticeable because of how many Dead there appear to be.

The prose was another negative. Most of it was fine -- nothing flashy, but serviceable. But every couple chapters there would be a horribly clunky bit of exposition that totally threw me out of things. For example:

She hadn't thought beyond her own concern for her father. Now, she was beginning to expand her knowledge of him, to understand that he was more than just her father, that he was many different things to different people.

Making this hammering of the point home worse, to me at least, is that it comes after only a single incident, not after the sort of succession of conversations implied in the text.

And while the fast-paced plot kept me turning the pages, it really cut into my appreciation of Sabriel as a character. She's traveling for weeks, but because of what I can only assume is a horror of pages of dialogue, the only time she's shown trying to figure out the puzzles set before her or interrogate the people who are clearly withholding information from her is when she's about to be interrupted by yet another attack. At one point she and two other characters spend six days at sea -- but only start to discuss their plans for when they put to shore as they're entering a harbor, so of course their conversation gets cut off. This left me with the impression that she was doing no thinking at all, just falling from one disaster into another and making it out mostly through blind luck and the deus ex machina of her father's plans.

Still, Nix did keep me turning the pages, even if he used a trick like ending the chapters in the middle of the action scenes to do it. And the magic, particularly the bell ringing, was fascinating. And this novel was published early in his career (I think it's his second?), so it's quite likely that he improved in at least some of those areas. I wouldn't recommend against this novel, or Nix in general; it just was not strong enough for me to be excited for it.
reviewed Sabriel on + 306 more book reviews
I enjoyed this book, I especially liked the character Mogget and Touchstone. A recommended read.
reviewed Sabriel on + 287 more book reviews
A good, solid fantasy read. There are some things about the world that I'm not completely clear about that I thought could have been explained a little better, but over all the world-building was well done and also fairly unique.
reviewed Sabriel on
Great book. Will suck you ina nd make you read the whole series.
reviewed Sabriel on + 4 more book reviews
I thought this was a great read. Interesting twist on how magic works.
reviewed Sabriel on + 4 more book reviews
And I'm so glad I did! It's very original, dark, and the trilogy made me want more Abhorsen. The characters are deep and very likeable, the plot is engaging and dark, funny, serious, touching. I can't say enough good stuff!
reviewed Sabriel on + 88 more book reviews
Sabriel is a winner.
The author Garth Nix created a really remarkable and realistic world. It's done in the grand style of high fantasy and heroic romance - with some wonderful twists and turns !
Sabriel IS a heroine truly worthy of that role.
reviewed Sabriel on + 12 more book reviews
Amazing fantasy novel! not at all like shade's childeren or seventh tower, and thats a good thing. Surpassed only by the third book in the Abhorsen trilogy
reviewed Sabriel on + 8 more book reviews
Very engaging read for younger readers; recommended to me by my young nephew.
reviewed Sabriel on + 6 more book reviews
Book 1 of the Abhorsen Trilogy. A very enjoyable read for lovers of the fantasy genre. Interesting concept overall and you are left with wanting to learn more about the world the author has created in this trilogy.
reviewed Sabriel on + 297 more book reviews
Praised by Philip Pullman and Lloyd Alexander. The first of the Abhorsen series. A really great read by the author of The Keys to the Kingdom.
reviewed Sabriel on + 21 more book reviews
good, solid, ya fantasy. not at all challenging or unusual, but very well put together. compelling and fun.
reviewed Sabriel on + 36 more book reviews
Wow. Okay. Where to begin with this...?

I picked up Sabriel because of the great reviews it had gotten on this website. If a book a 4.0 average rating on GR then, duh, its good. Like, by default. But throughout the ENTIRE book I could not figure out why people were obsessed. I didn't like it at all. I didn't like the plot; I didn't like the main characters (except for Mogget), I didn't like the setting or even the idea that Nix was trying to get across. I did not like it, I tell you!! But I kept at it because for some reason it got extremely high ratings.
Then.... the last ten pages happened. THE LAST TEN PAGES!!!!!! I was so enthralled with those last ten pages that I got goosebumps and I told my husband to STFU because shit was getting real.
After the epilogue and page 311, I reflected on this book as a whole. I thought about why I didn't like it in the beginning and how those last ten pages affected me. And to be honest, the ending changed my entire view.
I really looked back at the characters and the setting and the plot and all the things I didn't enjoy about the novel and I dissected it and I realized I loved it. I wasn't looking at it the way it needed to be looked at. I was just like "Woah". Garth Nix, you're a smart one. Yes, you are.

This book was absolutely AMAZING! And I only came to that realization because I was, like, in a book shock coma for five minutes after reading it. Five minutes is a long time!

I also saw a lot of elements from other books that I've read. I think Sabriel is a lot like Graceling mixed with some Constantine mixed with some bad-assery..
reviewed Sabriel on + 7145 more book reviews
Reviewed by Candace Cunard for TeensReadToo.com

The first thing that hit me when I finished reading this book was that I should have read it much sooner. I'd been meaning to read it for the past six or seven years but never quite getting around to it--and that was a mistake. In SABRIEL, Garth Nix introduces the reader to a compelling fantasy world that comes alive through the actions of the title character and others.

The Old Kingdom is a place of magic, both Charter magic, wielded by those with some connection to the ancient Charter that bound magic to benevolent purposes, and Free Magic, the creatures that escaped the binding and defy the Charter. Free Magic is also used by necromancers desiring to defy the Charter by animating dead bodies. Only one person, the Abhorsen, combines use of Charter and Free Magic for the purpose of returning dead spirits to their final rest and dead bodies to their graves. As the Abhorsen's daughter, and herself Abhorsen-in-Waiting, Sabriel must learn how to use the Abhorsen's tools to venture into Death and bind destructive spirits so they cannot cause harm to others.

However, things in the Old Kingdom are becoming more and more dangerous by the minute, and as a result Sabriel grows up in Ancelstierre, the Old Kingdom's southern neighbor, close enough to the border that she is able to learn and practice Charter Magic, but far enough removed that she is ignorant of the customs and traditions of her home country. The story begins when eighteen-year-old Sabriel, about to finish preparatory school in Ancelstierre, receives a messenger from her father, carrying the bells and sword of the Abhorsen, a signal that he is in danger and requires her help. Sabriel must cross over into the Old Kingdom, a place she knows little about, and somehow find a way to save her father from whatever fate has befallen him before his spirit is pulled too far into Death. Along the way, she meets a fickle magical spirit in the form of a talking cat named Mogget, the traditional helpmeet of a long line of Abhorsens, and a former Royal Guard called Touchstone who has been frozen in the form of a ship's figurehead for the past two hundred years. Together, Sabriel, Mogget, and Touchstone journey through the Old Kingdom as they learn more about the necromancer who has tried to kill Sabriel's father and who will wreak destruction upon the land on both sides of the border if they cannot stop him.

Nix's writing is lean and easy to read, creating characters whose thoughts are clear and whose motives are intensely human. The relationship that develops between Sabriel and Touchstone is emotionally real and rich, and I enjoyed reading about all of their interactions. Even secondary characters are detailed and have personalities of their own. I was also impressed by Nix's concept of magic, which is deeper and more textured than the point-and-spell world of Harry Potter or countless other similar stories (although this book will certainly appeal to fans of the former class of fantasy). In the Old Kingdom, performing magic depends upon a deep knowledge of the required Charter marks, and in Sabriel's case, upon her mastery of the seven bells that assist the necromancer's trade by helping command the dead. This book is truly original--I have not seen anything like it before.
reviewed Sabriel on + 7145 more book reviews
Reviewed by Candace Cunard for TeensReadToo.com

The first thing that hit me when I finished reading this book was that I should have read it much sooner. I'd been meaning to read it for the past six or seven years but never quite getting around to it--and that was a mistake. In SABRIEL, Garth Nix introduces the reader to a compelling fantasy world that comes alive through the actions of the title character and others.

The Old Kingdom is a place of magic, both Charter magic, wielded by those with some connection to the ancient Charter that bound magic to benevolent purposes, and Free Magic, the creatures that escaped the binding and defy the Charter. Free Magic is also used by necromancers desiring to defy the Charter by animating dead bodies. Only one person, the Abhorsen, combines use of Charter and Free Magic for the purpose of returning dead spirits to their final rest and dead bodies to their graves. As the Abhorsen's daughter, and herself Abhorsen-in-Waiting, Sabriel must learn how to use the Abhorsen's tools to venture into Death and bind destructive spirits so they cannot cause harm to others.

However, things in the Old Kingdom are becoming more and more dangerous by the minute, and as a result Sabriel grows up in Ancelstierre, the Old Kingdom's southern neighbor, close enough to the border that she is able to learn and practice Charter Magic, but far enough removed that she is ignorant of the customs and traditions of her home country. The story begins when eighteen-year-old Sabriel, about to finish preparatory school in Ancelstierre, receives a messenger from her father, carrying the bells and sword of the Abhorsen, a signal that he is in danger and requires her help. Sabriel must cross over into the Old Kingdom, a place she knows little about, and somehow find a way to save her father from whatever fate has befallen him before his spirit is pulled too far into Death. Along the way, she meets a fickle magical spirit in the form of a talking cat named Mogget, the traditional helpmeet of a long line of Abhorsens, and a former Royal Guard called Touchstone who has been frozen in the form of a ship's figurehead for the past two hundred years. Together, Sabriel, Mogget, and Touchstone journey through the Old Kingdom as they learn more about the necromancer who has tried to kill Sabriel's father and who will wreak destruction upon the land on both sides of the border if they cannot stop him.

Nix's writing is lean and easy to read, creating characters whose thoughts are clear and whose motives are intensely human. The relationship that develops between Sabriel and Touchstone is emotionally real and rich, and I enjoyed reading about all of their interactions. Even secondary characters are detailed and have personalities of their own. I was also impressed by Nix's concept of magic, which is deeper and more textured than the point-and-spell world of Harry Potter or countless other similar stories (although this book will certainly appeal to fans of the former class of fantasy). In the Old Kingdom, performing magic depends upon a deep knowledge of the required Charter marks, and in Sabriel's case, upon her mastery of the seven bells that assist the necromancer's trade by helping command the dead. This book is truly original--I have not seen anything like it before.
reviewed Sabriel on + 132 more book reviews
Excellent fantasy, suitable for YA and adults alike. The world-building is first-rate, believable characters and dialogue, fast paced with lots of danger for our hero Sabriel. Moggett in particular is a great character. I loved everything about this book.
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Good science fiction.
reviewed Sabriel on + 279 more book reviews
Fabulous. Loved it loved it loved it!
reviewed Sabriel on + 5 more book reviews
good story
reviewed Sabriel on + 96 more book reviews
Read it, enjoyed it.
reviewed Sabriel on + 2 more book reviews
This is a terrible book! I couldn't even get past the first chapter! It's disgusting!