Sabriel

By Garth Nix,

Book cover of Sabriel

Book description

A stunning anniversary gift edition of the second in the bestselling Old Kingdom fantasy series.

Sabriel has spent most of her young life far away from the magical realm of the Old Kingdom, and the Dead that roam it. But then a creature from across the Wall arrives at her…

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Why read it?

9 authors picked Sabriel as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Sabriel was one of the first fantasy novels I picked up and read. In my early search, I found it difficult to find good fantasy stories that featured female heroines both realistically and respectfully. That’s why I was so delighted when I found this book.

Sabriel is the 18-year-old daughter of the Abhorsen, and she’s called to an epic quest filled with strange magics and deathly dangers. I like that she has lots of help along the way, besides being a necromancer herself who’s following in her father’s footsteps.

Personally, I don’t like my book heroes to come pre-packaged and…

When her father goes missing, Sabriel leaves college to find him. The plot sounds like a simple retrieval story, however, Sabriel’s father is the Abhorsen, a magician charged with keeping the dead in the Old Kingdom across the wall from rising and attacking the ‘normal’ world. Of course, one powerful necromancer is already attempting to break through. I was completely enamored with the idea of the magical and normal worlds being merely across a wall from each other, but even more fascinated by Sabriel’s ability to enter—and leave—another realm: Death.

One of my all-time favorites, Sabriel follows the story of a young necromancer as she battles the forces of the underworld to save the Old Kingdom from a looming darkness. When her father is attacked by an evil spirit and trapped in death, Sabriel becomes the next Abhorsen—and must take up the grisly task of putting the undead to rest. I have read this book so many times that I’m surprised the pages haven’t fallen out of the spine. The world is darkly immersive, and the magic system is fantastic. Sabriel’s bravery in the face of unimaginable evil is something…

In this story we follow an apprentice necromancer, Sabriel, in her search for her disappeared father. Regularly, she has to step into the afterlife, and each time it is a more desperate and dangerous journey, hard to get back from. 

There are many worlds within worlds in that one, between a kingdom set in science versus the old kingdom seeped in magic, between the living struggling in a perpetual winter, and the afterlife, dark and void, between the present lost in a broken post-war era versus the past desperate to repair what was lost. This is an adventure that starts…

From Opal's list on young adult set in the afterlife.

I have still never read anything else like Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom books. Sabriel, the phenomenal introduction to Nix’s world of necromancers and seers, talking animals, and gated rivers flowing down into Death, follows the daughter of the current Abhorsen—the bell-wielding, good necromancer who keeps the dead dead—as she learns about her heritage and inheritance and gets swept up in her father’s old conflicts. Featuring the most catlike cat fiction has ever seen, a kingdom-sweeping, perilous journey, and one of the coolest magic systems I’ve read. Every time I enter the Old Kingdom, I am incredibly reluctant to leave.

Much like my own cat, Mogget is actually a primordial monster trapped in the body of a cat by magic, and for every time he does something deceptively cute, he also does something to remind you that he is one unsupervised moment away from going on a blood-soaked rampage.

In addition to understanding that cats are equal parts eldritch horrors and cool little buddies, Garth Nix also invented one of the most truly original magic systems that I’ve encountered.

If I can tell a character is scared and emotional about their mission and then they force themselves to do the right thing despite that fear, I get a warm spot in my chest and think “I want to be brave like that, too.” Sabriel is an amazing heroine because she goes into extremely scary places, accepting her calling as the Abhorsen and learning to ring these bells of death that help her to send dead monsters back to the underworld. I love her grit and courage as she gets the job done, even though it’s absolutely terrifying! This book…

Now, this is the one book on the list where the school itself isn’t magical, but this has been one of my favorite fantasy books since I was about twelve years old. In Nix’s classic fantasy, Ancelstierre is divided into the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom. Sabriel is sent to a boarding school in the New Kingdom, which echoes the feel of twentieth-century Great Britain. Across the Wall in the Old Kingdom, magic exists and dead things have a tendency not to stay dead, and Sabriel’s father is the Abhorsen, a necromancer tasked with keeping the dead from wreaking…

From Jocelyn's list on fantasy with magical schools.

Published long before young adult literature hit bestseller lists, let alone had its own section in most bookstores, Sabriel is unexpectedly dark—the protagonist is a teenage necromancer who travels into death—and Sabriel herself is just the sort of fierce, resourceful hero that can easily carry a fantasy on her muscled shoulders.

From April's list on featuring heroic female leads.

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