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Sabriel (Abhorsen #1)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  118,012 ratings  ·  4,223 reviews
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 installment in the Abhorsen tril
Mass Market Paperback, First American Edition, 491 pages
Published September 30th 1996 by Harper Collins (first published 1995)
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Daniel I'm not really sure what you are asking. If you are asking, do some characters induce fear in other characters, the answer is definitely yes. If you…moreI'm not really sure what you are asking. If you are asking, do some characters induce fear in other characters, the answer is definitely yes. If you are asking do they have the explicit power of "inducing fear," I'd still say that yeah, the main villain does that. If you are asking if some characters could induce fear in readers, well that probably depends more on the reader than the character. But...yes. The book has some intense scenes, and a lot of dead things coming to life and walking around trying to kill everyone, so it could be frightening to younger or more sensitive readers.(less)
Maya Well, the history behind this explained more in the sequels, but essentially Free Magic in and of itself isn't necessarily "good" or "evil", it's just…moreWell, the history behind this explained more in the sequels, but essentially Free Magic in and of itself isn't necessarily "good" or "evil", it's just pure power-and it's wielded by necromancers because I guess it's stronger, but also more unpredictable. Charter magic was created as a way to harness Free Magic into a more usable and safe method of performing magic--through symbols. I'm not necessarily sure if there's a ~reason~ per say that Free Magic makes mages sick, but it's likely to do with the fact that it's so strong that it has an adverse effect on the body. It's supposed to be almost corrosive, and that wielding it is detrimental to a person's health. Which is why necromancers resort to more and more extreme measures to stay alive. Hope I helped!(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kat Kennedy
Jun 24, 2010 Kat Kennedy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of LOTR and Fantasy Genre
I picked this book up from the library and noticed stickers on the book declaring that it was part of a reading challenge here in NSW for grades 7-8.

"This book is acceptable to read for 12-13 year olds? Fuck me, can we turn around and go back to the library?" I asked my husband.

He shook his head and smiled at me. "Just try it. You never know."

"It's for twelve-to-thirteen year olds! No sex! No swearing! Minimum violence! I don't fucking think so!"

In the end, we brought it home and I sulked the wh
This book really should have been exciting but I actually would have had a much better time had I just blared Monster Mash from my stereo and danced around like a zombie with chicken skin pasted to my face.

Jedi knight of the living dead!

I feel like this was probably really cool in the 90's and if I had read it then, as my pre-Harry Potter 10 year old self. I probably would have loved it. But now, my brain has descended into different forms of oblivion and I laugh voraciously at danger.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
I shall write a wee bit about my thoughts on this book as I read, for I do not trust my foggy brain to keep up with them if I wait until the last minute.

*I like the juxtaposition of 20th Century (early) Ancelstierre with a medieval-esque world of the Old Kingdom. It threw me for a loop at first, how the prologue was very medieval (pre-Industrial), and the first chapter was modernesque. I was thinking, are they immortal or something? But further reading clears that up.

*I don't read as much pure f
Apr 03, 2007 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adult, Adult
Shelves: readandloved
Possibly one of the greatest fantasy adventures of our times, Garth Nix's first novel is a lush, magical, dark-witty adventure about a young woman's battle with the hideous Dead.

The story starts with a flashback in which a special necromancer named Abhorsen saves his baby daughter Sabriel from a creature called Kerrigor, in the spiritual river of death. Many years later, at an English-esque boarding school, Sabriel must take up her father's magical sword and bells and try to find out what has ha
When an otherworldly visitor tells Sabriel that her father has been trapped in the world of the dead, she has no choice but to leave her student's life in Ancelstierre and venture into the Old Kingdom to save him. There, in her father's absence, she must take up the mantle of Abhorsen, a necromancer charged with making sure that the dead stay dead.

Although she does not believe herself to be up to the task, Sabriel must make the journey, with only a mysterious talking cat named Mogget, and a re-
“Let this be my final lesson. Everyone and everything has a time to die.”

I really wish I had liked Sabriel more than I had anticipated. It had a decent idea, however as I kept reading I continually kept thinking about other events in my life plus my plans for the next day, and not paying attention to the story - clearly because I was purely so bored. I believe merely saying a book is boring isn’t a convincing or a valid reason to conclude that the book wasn’t good.

Have you ever read a book wh
Lindsey Rey
Really enjoyed this one! Although there wasn't much character development, I didn't really care because Sabriel is a total badass. I'm very excited for the sequel.
[4.5 Stars] Sabriel is such a wonderful story, really. I absolutely adored it! The only criticism I really have is that the magic was at times confusing and there isn't much character development. That being said, I could really ignore most of that because Sabriel was so fabulous and the magic was so cool and Mogget was so great. I'm not really sure what else to say. This book surprised me. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, but here I am absolutely loving it. I can't wait to read the ...more
Tadiana ✩ Night Owl☽
This is the story of Sabriel, an innocent young woman, and various types of dead, undead, once dead, sorta dead and should-be-dead people and creatures. Luckily, Sabriel is by heritage and training a necromancer, with a fair amount of power over death. Unluckily, some of these once-dead and should-be-dead creatures have apparently killed Sabriel's father, the necromancer-in-chief or "Abhorsen," and are in the process of taking over the kingdom. It's up to Sabriel and her companions, a talking ca ...more
Shayantani Das
This book takes an excruciatingly long time to really pick up its pace. To be honest, if I had not bought this book about a year ago, I would definitely have quit. I have picked it up and abandoned it quite frequently over the year, mostly because about 50 pages through the book, I would start yawning. Now that is a privilege especially reserved for school textbooks, thus my reluctance. But, once you go through those first mind numbing 100 pages, this book is actually pretty decent.

The novel is
This book has so many great things going for it I almost don't know where to start. Let's go with the title character herself, Sabriel. At the beginning of the book, she's a relatively normal schoolgirl, suddenly thrust into a world that she has a limited understanding of and isn't entirely prepared for, with an incredible responsibility. And she reacts quite admirably. There's a certain reluctance to assume the full depth of her new responsibilities, but that has more than a little to do with h ...more
Aug 01, 2009 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: GoodReads Fantasy Book Club August 2009
3.75 stars

Sabriel attends Wyverley College, a boarding school for girls on the Ancelstierre side of the Wall. In addition to reading, writing and arithmatic, she studies Charter Magic and necromancy. Her father, the Abhorsen, usually visits from the Old Kingdom once or twice a year. He trains her in binding the Dead so they stay dead using The Book of the Dead, Charter Magic and the Bells.

When her father fails to visit, Sabriel grows worried and seeks to find him across the Wall in the Old King
Mike (the Paladin)
Read this quite some time ago and have been meaning to get to the sequels for some first I reread this one...:)

This is an interesting YA novel set in a world that is split. There is Ancelstierre, the southern Kingdom which is a technological society about at the level of World War I era Earth (that would be our Earth). It seems much like the UK (as they play rugby and cricket at the boarding schools). There is no magic in Ancelstierre. As a matter of fact they (mostly) regard magic and
Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*
Possibly the greatest compliment that I could give this book is to say that it reminds me, in a non copy-cat way, of the first fantasy series to really sweep me away in my teenhood! That would be none other than The Belgariad Series by David Eddings!!

Sabriel is a story about a badass heroine who is charged with saving the world! I love that shit, guys!!

The world building, although at times tedious, is amazing - I love the way this world is created, how death itself is portrayed AND necromance
Mar 17, 2009 Sarah rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: trash cans
piece of trash. dont even bother starting this, i was bored the whole time. Its totally weird and what the heck. i never really got what they were doing and why they were doing it. I never got what the bad guys were. This book is confusing and so boring you dont even want to try to figure out whats going on. Dont waste your time on this, you have better things to do like hitting your head agaisnt the wall.
If you don't know already, I love zombies. Because of this, I was really, really looking forward to reading this book. And I really enjoyed it.

Sabriel, the character, is a bit complex. One the one hand, she's 18. She wants to be young and pretend responsibilities don't exist. Unfortunately, she can't do that. Her dad kills Dead things, and is bound to complete this service at the sacrifice of his own life (the kind with kids, a wife, a dog, white picket fence, etc), and from a young age, Sabrie
Wickedly amazing world building but sadly too little character portrayal, if that's even a thing? It was too adventure-driven for my taste and while the setting immediately fascinated me, I never felt like I knew the characters and thus could never rly connect with them.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Candace Cunard for

The first thing that hit me when I finished reading this book was that I should have read it much sooner. I'd been meaning to read it for the past six or seven years but never quite getting around to it--and that was a mistake. In SABRIEL, Garth Nix introduces the reader to a compelling fantasy world that comes alive through the actions of the title character and others.

The Old Kingdom is a place of magic, both Charter magic, wielded by those with
4.5 stars. Good characters, strong world-building and an EXCELLENT magic/necromancy system that was very unique, well developed and internally consistant. With as much fantasy as I read, I am always thankful when I come across something truly unique and engaging. This certainly fits the bill. The magic of the Abhorsen and its connection and exploration of the "various stages" of death was very well done and, in my opinion, the best feature of the story. Will defintely read the next book in the s ...more
KZM books

“Smrt je hladnija nego ikada ranije…”

Ako do sada niste znali ( baš kao i mi ) da je serijal Abhorsen, autora Garta Niksa preveden ( u izdanju Narodne knjige ) , onda ste se pošteno prevarili.

Sabrijel, Lireal i Abhorsen su knjige koje svaki ljubitelj fantastike za mlade mora pročitati. I posedovati. Pogotovo u ovako lepom formatu kao što je izdala Narodna knjiga. Doduše, prošlo je desetak godina od kako su knjige ugledale svetlost dana u
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

I've got a lot to say about this, but I'm on my phone in an airport between flights so I'll write my full thoughts later.

In the meantime:

YAY for female protagonists!

YAY for fantasy!

HUH for what "time period" this falls into.

HUH for the weird out-of-the-blue forced romance.

HUH/YAY?! For the magic.

Nonetheless, I would probably read further and wouldn't hesitate to recommend this, particularly to young adults with the caution about slight gore.

Full Review:

Sabriel is going to boarding
Reading this book was a pleasant experience. While considered a YA book, its tone was dark and forbidding, with the lead character being a necromancer and practioner of Charter Magic. She uses her newly learned powers to give the Dead their final resting and to keep the sinister denizens of the land of the Dead from making reentry into the world of living. Sabriel is the heir to a great power, and a greater responsibility role.

Character depth wasn't a big plus to this one, but I feel most of th
I took an extended leave from the fantasy genre; yesterday afternoon, I decided to come back to the world of witchcraft and sorcery. Highly recommended by fellow peers, I chose Garth Nix's well-known 'Sabriel'. Frankly, I was so impressed and drawn into the story that I finished it in two days and rushed to write an amazingly complementary review.

The plot was fantastic and fast-paced; there wasn't a moment I wasn't on the edge of my seat. Exhausting chapters of worthless garble is a common trait
UPDATED BELOW. I started this and wanted to give up in frustration about one fifth of the way in. But the book gets an awful lot of love from many well-respected friends on GR and I'm tempted to give it another go. My problem was mostly with the quality of the writing, which I found awful, to be frank. There are various things that just seem wrong, although one can make out the intended sense. And there is much more that just seems heavy and clunky: odd word choices, labored explanations of the ...more
Sabriel is a wonderful fantasy quest story that takes all the familiar tropes and makes them seem fresh and new. There really isn't anything that's groundbreaking in this novel, but it somehow seems like a story that's totally unique. Sabriel made me feel that same youthful excitement for reading that the Harry Potter books did, and it was much shorter. Nix did a fabulous job of creating a very rich, magical world in a small number of pages. This is proof that fantasy does not have to cover ten ...more
Aug 27, 2010 Tatiana marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
No, can't do it, unfortunately.

I have nothing negative to say about the book except that it couldn't hold my interest. Corpse and necromancy are just not my thing I guess.

I am also starting to think that I only like fantasy that is very light on magic and very heavy on romance. Otherwise it just goes over my head.
Quite a good book! Not what I expected, but to be honest I didn't know much about it to begin with.
Definitely more of a world/plot driven book than a character driven one. Unique, if at times confusing magic system. But absolutely wonderful writing and a fantastic kick butt main character!
Warning there may be a few spoilers ahead but I'm not bothering to hide them. Just be careful with those eyes of yours.

3.5 Stars

I'm going to be honest and say that as an overall novel there were parts where this felt like a three star book and parts that felt four star. For instance upon reading the author's name this felt like a four star book (Garth Nix - good writer and a fellow Australian). But after delving fifty pages into the world of Sabriel I was less than impressed. However upon comple
Některé knihy jsou prostě "jen" KRÁSNÉ, nemyslíte? Tahle k nim určitě patří.

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Protip: Don't google image search this book unless you're looking for Sam Winchester + Gabriel shipping.

Now that I've got that warning out of the way.

I was so conflicted about rating this book. It's sat there between a high 3 to a low 4, to be honest. But then I thought -- a younger Manda would probably have adored this book. My younger self, not having yet read as many fantasy novels as my old-fart-self, would have been absolutely in awe.

What's not to love? Magic, zombie
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Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing 'Hail the Conquering Hero Comes' or possibly 'Roll Out the Barrel'. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a boot full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.

More about Garth Nix...

Other Books in the Series

Abhorsen (5 books)
  • Lirael (Abhorsen, #2)
  • Abhorsen (Abhorsen, #3)
  • Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)
  • Untitled (Abhorsen, #5)
Abhorsen (Abhorsen, #3) Lirael (Abhorsen, #2) Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #1) Drowned Wednesday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #3) Lady Friday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #5)

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“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” 720 likes
“Touchstone watched, suddenly conscious that he probably only had five seconds left to be alone with Sabriel, to say something, to say anything. Perhaps the last five seconds they ever would have alone together.
I am not afraid, he said to himself.
"I love you," he whispered. "I hope you don't mind.”
More quotes…