Nikki & Claire Review: Sabriel (Abhorsen #1)

Sabriel Covers

Book: Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix
Publisher: HarperCollins, 1996
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Recommend: fantasy fans, magic fans
Book Pro’s: So much
Book Con’s: ???

Summary: Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. With Sabriel, the first instalment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.
More Information: GoodReads

Nikki’s Thoughts & Rating:

I’m not sure how to express how much I loved this book. An easy 5 stars. ★★★★★

Great characters, exciting story, engaging writing. Hoorah!

Sabriel wasn’t silly or whiney or self-absorbed like YA characters often seem to be (no offence other YA peops; I just calls ’em like I sees ’em). Instead we have a strong, sensible human. The story was gripping with the right amount of description to flesh out the world and I really didn’t want to put the book down. The magic in the characteristic ‘ye olde world’ setting juxtaposed with World War I era technology was something I haven’t come across before and was really fun to read about. It might be interesting to see more about how those worlds interact (maybe in one of the other books?).

There is a strong theme of duty/responsibility above all else which I rather enjoyed as a pragmatic approach to impending doom situations, but there’s also clear inner conflict when moral clashes present themselves (i.e. “Do I save the children and lose a chance at killing the real baddy or do I ignore that they’re probably going to die and just get on with saving the kingdom?” type situations.)

The major threat in Sabriel is handled well. It feels like a real ordeal but not annoyingly exhaustively so. The books ends pretty abruptly and I feel like this made you contemplate what has happened and wonder about what happens next quite fluidly.

I am not a fan of most of the covers…the last on in the banner above is my favourite of the official ones. But it would be SO great if someone just hurried up and paid Kali Ciesemier to do all the cover art (and maybe some interiors too?)…

Check out Kali’s totally on point Sabriel fanart.

abhorsenshouse1 clovencrest950 sabrielstudy

And you’re just straight trippin’ if you don’t think this is the best possible Sabriel cover ever:



Nikki’s Favourite Line:

Claire actually ‘like’d one of my favourite lines on Goodreads the other day but I couldn’t bring myself to ‘like’ it on GR (or write it here) because I think it’s possibly a bit of a spoiler…(even if an obvious one… siiigh.)

Instead, here’s another one I really liked:

“I used to think like that at school,” Sabriel answered. “Dreaming about the Old Kingdom. Proper Charter Magic. Dead to bind. Princes to be –“


Also, this cat lives in my neighbourhood and it thinks I don’t know that it is a magical white flame demon beast who can talk (read: make sassy remarks all day every day).




Claire’s Thoughts & Rating:

Oh man, oh man! It’s here! The Double Trouble review! Where do I begin? Ok, first my rating, I give Sabriel heartheartheartheartheart, which if you know me, you know how rare that is. I think the Harry Potter series and one or two other books have achieved that many hearts.

OK, where do I start this? I’ll talk about the covers first. I’m a big fan of the original, old cover version (it’s the one on the very end, to the very right). I would like to pick up a had copy set with those covers. I’m not a big fan of the new covers (the ones with the symbol), I get why the symbols are there but I want to see a bell-wielding goddess, not a bunch of Charter marks.

In general I found Sabriel to be an amazing, fantastical journey with strong and strangely complex characters. Plus, there is the Mogget- How can anyone not love the Mogget? Sabriel is witty and humorous, it’s made me cry and gasp and scream.

I first came to this book and the Abhorsen series by accident– Nikki had recommended it to me for ages and with my usual laziness, I didn’t get around to it. Finally, I found a copy and started and loved it, ran to Nikki and was like OMG IT IS AMAZING, and of course, she responded in a very DUH manner, because of course she had recommended it first. Nikki and I are both immensely picky readers and for us to agree on something, it has to be amazing.

I know this review is a bit odd and jumbled but I am giving Sabriel 5 hearts because it is truly amazing. It had a bit of a slow start, I find that true for a number of Nix’s books but if you push past the first few chapters you will become so deeply immersed, so woven into its plot and drama that you will be loathe to finish it. I didn’t want the book to stop and was sad when I finally put it down in the end, because I wanted to stay in that world!

Thankfully Nix has kept with the Dark Kingdom setting and I’ve since read Lirael, Abhorsen and Clariel and will post reviews soon. All in all, you’ll be foolish not to start this series, it’s amazing.

Claire’s Favourite Line:

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”
“Fear and realisation of ignorance, strong medicines against stupid pride.”
“Let this be my final lesson. Everyone and everything has a time to die.”



About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, SFF, YA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Nikki & Claire Review: Sabriel (Abhorsen #1)

  1. Pingback: Review: Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) Audiobook | Bitches With Books

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  3. Pingback: Something Borrowed + Something New: October 2015 | Bitches With Books

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