I got Clariel for my birthday. It was pretty epic. I took a lot of photos with it, including some with the inferior Library copy (it’s inferior because I don’t own it.)
These are all my pictures of the Old Kingdom awesome.
Does the walker choose the path or the path the walker
*sounds deep and meaningful :)*
If you like to go into books not knowing what is going on apart from the blurb, do not read this reveiw, as it contains slight spoilers.
I had high expectations for this book. Really high. Because Sabriel and Lirael are two of my favourite books EVER ( along with Cinder and Scarlet)and I love Abhorsen too. I got this book for my birthday, and doesn’t it have a gorgeous cover? The plot and characterisation of this book were stellar. But, it didn’t quite hold together as well. I will definitely read this one again.
Clariel is a very interesting character. When we first meet her, she is an ordinary high class girl. Interestingly, she is not good at Charter Magic like the characters in the other books, and hence her solutions are Free Magic, and relying on other people, like the sorcerer Kargrin. At first Clariel only wants to get back to the forest, where she is safe and free. Its very interesting to see how at the start, Clariel sees her parents as very restrictive, but later on, you understand that she just loved them dearly, but none of them knew how to show their love for each other.
It was quite fascinating, seeing that this book is pitched as young adult, which I think it is, but without the love interests. At least not for Clariel. It is actually possible. Not that I don’t love Bel. Bel is wonderful.
Clariel struggled intensely with the need to do the right thing. Her thwarted dream went astray very fast, and even when she did something to try to help, she didn’t know how. She was so afraid, or at least uncertain about reaching out to other people and trusting them. She was very self reliant, and that caused her to do many stupid things. Her natural tendency towards the unrestricted Free Magic, while coming from a family of Charter Magic made her so confused. Knowing what she becomes, i was riveted by the power struggle withing herself. Her beserk tendencies also were an important component, giving her power but losing her hard won control.
It was a excellent setting, to see the Old Kingdom before the degradation of Kerrigor. The bustling city, the fashions, the Palace, the Clayr… seeing how all these were portrayed gave a more in depth look at how the kingdom was formed. There were several inconsistencies however. In all the other books, Paperwings were capitalized. Also, I think in Lirael, which I read last week, the 46th Abhorsen invented Paperwings, and Sabriel was the 55th. I understand that Abhorsens can live a long time, but don’t most of them die young? Because nine Abhorsens, including one who lived to about 50 ( Sabriels father) over more than 600 years, seems like very few. And we know that Mistress Ader didn’t hold power for very long either. I’m probably overthinking this one… ( I did just read Lirael)
Clariel was a complex character(the best sort :)), and her grapples with power very profound. Some of the other characters deserve backstories and their own novels. Especially Bel. ESPECIALLY Bel.And Mogget. It was good to see him in this book. I think that 600 more years with the Abhorsens mellow him somewhat.
Another good thing about this book was the bad guy. Because there wasn’t a character specifically designated as one. Free Magic, and the Free Magic creatures were seen as bad, but through Clariels eyes we understand that it is a corrupting power. The path chose Clariel after she chose it and she couldn’t let go of the opportunities it presented. Aronzo and Kilp cause trouble, and are murderers, but not necessarily in an evil way. The King is negligent but he is lost, not bad. And the desire for power and beserk that secures it within Clariel herself is neither good not evil. It holds the potential for Clariels choice. And the walker chooses the path and the path chooses the walker.
The plot of this book is tightly put together and I loved returning to the Old Kingdom. Clariel had a few little things- a rushed ending, over reliance on magical solutions (be practical,Clariel) and I think that it was missing a little of the charm of the other Abhorsen/Old Kingdom novels. But honestly, I will read any YA that Garth Nix writes, and his authors note said that he was now focussing on a story about Nick and Sabriel. I loved this series o much to have any choice but to read it, and Clariel was a gift. (literally)