May 6th 2003
For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead. But now her father, the Charter-Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that world.
Though her journey begins alone, she soon finds companions: Mogget, whose seemingly harmless feline form hides a powerful—and perhaps malevolent—spirit, and Touchstone, a Charter-Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories.
With threats on all sides and only each other to trust, the three of them must travel deep into the Old Kingdom, toward a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.
Sabriel is the first high fantasy book I've read in ages, and though I can't read loads of them at the same time, I do really enjoy them, and Sabriel was no exception for me. I found it to be a little bit slow for the first 100 pages or so, but I really got into it when Mogget was in introduced to the story (honestly, what is it with sarcastic cats always being the best characters? Why can't someone write a whole book about Sarcastic Talking Cats? I would read it.) And the world building is just really, really great. I loved reading the scenes set in Death because I could picture it so well in my head and it's really cinematic in that way. I think it'd make a great anime film or something, Just imagine the paperwings!
Sabriel herself is kind of a perfect example of a strong fantasy heroine, and though I was worried she might be a bit flat or boring, she wasn't. She was kind of a bad ass, you know, for a girl who doesn't really know anything about the Old Kingdom or killing freaking scary Dead things. Though I did like that she also wasn't completely clueless. She hadn't been raised in the Old Kingdom but she'd learnt a sufficient amount of Charter Magic (will get to that in a minute) and had been to Death quite a lot in her life. Also, she just kind of got on with it. Like, she was stressed about it and worried and didn't always knew what to do, but most of time she kept her cool regardless. She didn't let it get to her too much, because she knew there wasn't much of a point getting all flustered and whatnot. It won't help her save her father. I kind of admired that in her. So yeah.
Mogget! Mogget has to go on my list of favourite characters ever. But again, if you're a sarcastic talking cat, you're pretty much guaranteed a place on that list. He is the best of the best though. Not really a cat, but a super powerful force (there is no other way to describe it) of Free Magic. And because of that he really does stay on this kind of amoral line that, really, most cat characters are on. But he really can be quite bad at some points in the book (though I'm not sure if that's really him. I mean, I know it's him, but I don't know if he's wanting to do it or anything.) But he's on Team Abhorsen for most of the book, so that's got to be a good thing! Plus he's just such a great character. I want a pocket Mogget to take home with me please.
I know I've already said this, but I thought that the world building was fabulous, and I know I'm not a fantasy expert or anything, but I could imagine everything really well. It was all just so well described and well written. And the magic was really cool too. I didn't once feel lost or anything in some complicated magic system, it was just Charter Marks and Free Magic, which are quite easy to get the hang of. Like, some books can just be unnecessarily complicated about magic and this was not one of them. Also, I feel like the story went really well considering there were only really three main characters, you know? Apart from the beginning I didn't really feel it dragging much at all. Though I will say that the romance was a bit unconvincing. It was sweet nevertheless, though, so it's all good, I guess!
So, yeah! Sabriel is a really great fantasy novel that I enjoyed more that I thought I would, with a great, albeit small, cast of characters and worldbuilding that you'll fall in love with. Most likely. Well, I did anyway. ;)