First and foremost, the picture used as featured image is mentioned in a previous blog (Should I start a book series…?). Also, I was trying to do several things while typing this up, so I really hope I can get this finished today haha. Trying to utilize my free time as best I can between work schedule and life.
NOW- On to the main feature.
When I first picked up this series, I was this awkward kid in high school who really didn’t have any friends. The small group I had was very tight nit, and we seemed to have at least one person from all different groups, yet we were all still outcast’s. I read avidly in my former years, it was a great escape from my life, and with my vivid imagination, it often helped me cope with quite a lot also. This series had been introduced to me by the goth-y girl in the group, and I loved it. I myself am strange and unusual, as Lydia (beetle-juice) put it.
Now, since I’ve read this Trilogy, it has turned into a series. Back when I first read it, it was just 3 main books; Sabriel, Lireal and Abhorsen.
Upon researching the series to purchase it again, I have learned they have added 5 other books. Clariel, a prequel set 200 years before Sabriel. The Creature in the Case, Goldenhand, Hold the Bridge (another prequel that takes place around or before the time of Clariel) and a series of short story’s interwoven into the Old Kingdom titled, Across the Wall (3 of the stories are prequels and 1 takes place after Goldenhand). I own all books now a side from The Creature in the Case and Across the Wall. I tried to purchase both, but it was late at night and my bank kept denying my charges because I was purchasing the books from the United Kingdom and I didn’t tell my bank about the purchases, so they kept denying my card.
As I didn’t want to try and read all 8 books and then force a blog together, I thought I’d introduce you to the world of the Old Kingdom, with Clariel – The Lost Abhorsen, and in the Part 2, I will then jump forward 600+ years, to introduce you to Sabriel and the current condition after the fall of the Old Kingdom some 20 years prior to her arrival in the world. I’ve read both within the last month, so they’re still pretty fresh on my mind, I’ll write about Sabriel next. And then when I finish with Lireal – Daughter of the Clayr, I’ll write about that, as it’s a significantly thicker book and I don’t want to leave anything out.
Considering I was unable to purchase To Hold The Bridge and Across The Wall, I will have to start with the prequel that I own, going a bit out of internal chronological order, since technically To Hold the Bridge is the first book chronologically, and between Clariel and Sabriel stands three of the short stories in the book Across The Wall.
I would like to point out that you in no way have to read them in Story Line chronological, and can instead read them in the order in which they were published, as with any Trilogy that turns into a series, each book has a tie in to the rest, whether it be characters, time frames or location.
I find it’s best to read in some what of a time line order, so you’re not confused and left feeling like you weren’t part of some grand secret passed around through the pages of your book. But, as I mentioned before, if you would prefer to read in order of of distribution date, it’s as follows; Sabriel, Lireal, Abhorsen, Across the Wall (Short Story Collection published in 2005 and has The Creature in the Case as the first story), Clariel (published 2014), To Hold the Bridge (Short Story Collection Published in 2015 and has To Hold the Bridge: An Old Kingdom Story as the first story), Goldenhand (published in 2016). To Hold the Bridge and Across the Wall are all short story collections you can omit, but they’re naming stories are the first ones in those books and are helpful with explanation of things and equally as part of the story as anything else.
Now, to get on to some descriptions that you will run into in Clariel- The Lost Abhorsen. This book is where we start learning a little about the Great Charter and Free Magic (the perversion of the Charter). This is also our first crash-course introduction to the Abhorsen’s (the lineage who imprison and destroy Dead and Free Magic creatures). It is a bit confusing without the explanation, though it is covered, but the Abhorsen’s use free magic along side of the Charter to help right the wrongs created by Necromancers (which they are of a sort) and Free Magic organisms. Though not thoroughly explained in Clariel, the great charter is made out of 5 different things, the five great charters aren’t really explained until Sabriel:
The Five Great Charters knit the land.
Together linked, hand in hand.
One in the people who wear the crown (the royal bloodline)
Two in the folk who keep the Dead down (the Abhorsen line, which also has relation to the crown).
Three and Five became stone and mortar (the great charter stones and the wall separating the old kingdom from Ancelsteirre (which is not brought up until Sabriel) and actually made out of the lineage of the wall makers. The Charter stones actually are the source of the great charter. We are led to believe that the old kingdom is Scotland and Acelsteirre is represented as London, both on separate planes of existence separated by the wall (the rift)).
Four sees all in frozen water (meaning the Clayr, who live in a mountain with a Glacier in which they use to concentrate their power of Sight).
You can get a good deal on the book here!!!
Garth Nix Clariel- The Lost Abhorsen (Image from GoodReads)
Let’s get into Clariel- The Lost Abhorsen now. A title not actual fitting, as most would foreshadow that title meaning the Title Character is going to grow into a part that is mentioned in the title, but as we go through the book we learn what the title really means.
In reading this prequel, we learn a lot about the beginning of the fall of the kingdom and the struggle of responsibility in more than just the main character, but we also learn to understand Clariel as a whole.
The book tells the tale of Clariel, a lost girl who doesn’t know what she wants out of life other than to be alone and in nature. Her parents are not so much a part of her life as they are the only thing standing in her way to live the way she wants. We’re thrown from a quaint little village in the woods to the bustling city, and Kingdom capital, Belisaere. Clariel’s parents being advised to move to the kingdom, as Jaciel: mother of Clariel, Daughter of Abhorsen and Niece of the King at the time), thus making them a very notable family in the kingdom, is called to join the ranks of her guild as a High Member in a conspiratorial plan that’s unknown at the moment. Jaciel is what’s called a Gold-Smith. She can use the Charter to manipulate metal’s and creates the kingdoms jewelry, crowns, etc. Belisaere is located on land surrounded by water and a running aqueduct runs the perimeter. Running water keeps the dead out, they are unable to pass, cross over or go under any kind of moving water (this is not really explained as to why, but when we get into Sabriel, we get an idea of what “Death” and it’s 9 realms looks like and can guess from there).
While in the kingdom, we learn the King has since given up on any ruling after the death of his daughter and disappearance of his granddaughter. It is later found, upon Clariel’s Kinship meeeting, that he had given into madness in waiting for his granddaughter for 20 years, giving up on commanding out of spite of his age.
The busy, crowded city turns out to be way to much for the 17 year old Clariel, who’s spirit of wanderlust and avid avoidance of anything bearing life outside of the animal species, and she finds herself constantly struggling with wanting to get out and away, but the rules keep her bound to her parents.
In the beginning, she is forced in an “etiquette school” where she is to learn about what it is like to be a lady of high class. Upon meeting the magistrate, she learns that she wants to run her own hunting lodge and is given the correct amount she would need to be free of the city and on her own. This is also where she meets the Governor’s son and her cousin, Belatiel. She is also instructed she needs to learn Charter Magic, something she was not quite thrilled of.
Upon entering her first lesson in Charter 101, we learn that Clariel is something called a “Berserk”. This is a family bloodline inheritance that causes the wielder to lose all control and the rage takes over. Berserk also offers an infinity for Free Magic to take over the wielders life.
We start learning that the city is under attack by a Free Magic creature of power, a long with the “governor” and his family, who took over control of the city when the King stopped caring.
Clariel strikes a deal with the Mage teaching her that if she helps find and capture the free magic creature, they will provide her with the necessary means to escape the city and live the life she wants.
Clariel agrees, along with her Cousin (of the abhorsen side), Belatiel, joins a company of past royal guard members. Clariel and Belatiel are cornered by the Free Magic creature, who tries to kill Belatiel, but Clariel’s berserk-er rage kicks in and she starts mentally dominating the free magic creature.
The party learns that the governor is plotting to overthrow the crown, as Clariel learns she is to marry the Governor’s son. She is to first meet with the King and then there is a dinner, which ends rather poorly.
After this, she then begins to realize how quickly she enjoyed the idea of dominating and creating servants. She tries to fight it, and is taken to the Abhorsen’s House (on a small islet on the edge of a massive waterfall). Where we first come into meeting Mogget (yrael, one of 9 advanced and powerful free magic elements, held captive by one of the 7 bells carried by the Abhorsen and equal to the representations of death) in the form of a snow white cat. No one really knows what Mogget is or how he came to be a servant of the Abhorsen, just that he is there and is unable to do any harm or leave the house without permission. Mogget begins out as a helpful ally. Assisting Clariel in her escape, telling her she will need the aid of the free magic creature that she fought previously and was brought into the house of the Abhorsen as she was in order to get out of the house and back to Belisaere as quickly as possibly.
Along the way the stop and get and ensorceled sword and she comes into contact with a pair of bells that are purely Free Magic. She is tempted to grab them but decides it’s for the best to stick with the sword.
Without getting too much into the book and spoiling it, I thought it best to end here with my “recap”. I left major plot points out, as it really gives away the whole idea of the book and the title. There are some things that will be pointed out in Lireal and Abhorsen that are vaguely insinuated at in this book, so can be explained with the posts containing those two books.
Now, onto my personal feelings of the book.
I thought it was a great read, though honestly I find it pretty hard to embrace Clariel at this early point in her story. Though I understand her need to be free and alone, rebelling against her parents every chance she gets, I can’t seem to get past the fact that she was a character split in 2. She was constantly struggling with wanting to leave and “hating” her parents yet also wanting to remain and feel that “familial” connection that she struggled to see anywhere.
As with all the books, the main character is strong and raised independent. As is the repetitive Abhorsen way, loneliness and lacking in any familial and familiar connections. The main characters are always struggling with a way to fit in or constantly lamenting on how they don’t.
This book was more of a background about a character that’s brought up in later books than it was about anything else. We don’t get into much of the abhorsen and their job and we don’t get into anything else mentioned in the other books, like the fall of the kingdom and the rise of the dead. This stuff is briefly explained in following books, and even stuff that is vaguely mentioned in other books starts to make a bit more sense with the addition of this background, but the book in it’s entirety could have been a short novella instead of an entire book to get the same point across.
Being a teenager when I read this Trilogy originally, I can see how I definitely identified with the main characters, but had I read Clariel at that age, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. The back story of the character would have been an intricate part of my enjoyment of the series as a whole, where I was left otherwise confused. Being adopted when I was 13 and never really having friends to rely on until after entering the threshold of my teenage years, I was constantly fighting with the need to fit in and seeking some kind of connection that I hadn’t had previously, but never actually finding it in anything or anyone.
In all the books, there are things that leave much to question with the reader. A lot of things can’t be talked about due to the Charter, so even Mogget (or any of the other representations) can not speak of such things. Which makes it difficult to understand some of the underlying meanings of events that are mentioned. It leaves a lot to the imagination, which is good if you’re creatively able to piece together all the things that are mentioned without looking like a deranged lunatic.
I can say, though, that I am enjoying reliving the story’s of my youth. That with these books I was able to bring up memories I had since squashed back into a deep corner of my mind. I can’t say that they were all good memory’s, but I can say that thanks to my imagination and my keen ability to read a book in less than 48 hours, I had a lot of adventures that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
This book, like all the books in this series, take you away to a land that a dreamer can imagine into a reality of sorts. The descriptive entries about the land that is traveled is a helpful aide in bringing this story to life in your minds eye. These books are not about love or budding relationships, though there are some of those in this series, these tales are about the struggle of responsibility and coming into age during a time that is most difficult for the main character.
One can often get confused while reading, because there are some random jumps from the main characters thought process to that of her human travelling companion (when acquired), but it is rare for it to actually do that.
Being that I”m not entirely sure how to blog about reading selections, any kind of criticism or suggestions will be helpful. I think I kind of looked at this as an “essay” or “book review” type of thing, and I wanted to steer clear of sounding to “Middle School” about the whole thing, you know, with the awkward oral presentation of the book as a whole…. Though, in my attempt to avoid that, I think I might have done exactly that. Maybe I should have done some more research and read others book blogs
I think I might be able to avoid that by doing a series as a whole, instead of book by book, but I need to experiment a bit more in how I do things like this.
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