An Odd1's Reviews > Sabriel

Sabriel by Garth Nix
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Mar 26, 12

bookshelves: fantasy
Read from March 09 to 26, 2012

"Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?" p27 & last words of The Book of the Dead
Sabriel 18, nearly graduates boarding school Wyverly College, Est 1652 for Young Ladies of Quality, her home since the age of five, in the mechanical electrical Ancelstierre realm. But her father, the 52nd Abhorsen p224, Charter Mage and Necromancer binder of the Dead, sends his emerald in bronze hilt spelled sword and bandolier with seven Bells of power, the tiniest silver with deeply polished mahogany handle calls sleep (the rest I cannot spell, remember, or bother with, some break or gone anyway in the end). His spirit is trapped in the Nine Gated Precints of Death (areas annoy me like dreams and virtual realities), separated from his body trapped in the magical Old Kingdom. Mogget looks like a white cat, talks like a benevolent advisor, but his trapped Free Magic has a malevolent side bent on murdering Abhorsens, not serving them.

Light humor, when former student lays "marks of silence and immobility" on pompous Mrs Umbrade "gulping like a golfish" p268 contrasts with overall running and battling danger and death. Perhaps one happy scene is when, instead of being or marrying a prince, our hero(ine) rescues one. Warmed by cat(nip-like)balm, Mogett suggests "a breath would do, but you have to start kissing someone sometime" to wake the naked madman, frozen as wooden ship figure-head for a long rest cure, he offers to get a covering blanket if she wants "to keep staring" p124, and he designates the amnesiac, fool, Touchstone. The revived curly-haired "sworn sword hand" hops, unable to fit tight leather trousers on "heavily muscled thighs" p129, so dons gold striped red kilt over matching red striped gold leggings, turned down thigh-boots of russet doeskin, and red leather jerkin, wide belt with two swords, two large gold hoop earrings in bleeding pierced lobes p131. His overly humble "milady" annoys the slim girl with long "black hair gleaming like raven's wing" p257. Sabriel starts layered in linen, doeskin, leather leggings, light stone-like mail, hobnail boots, blue-silver stripe wrapped helmet, untearable deep blue surcoat shimmering with tiny repeated embroidered silver key motif and well-equipped leather backpack lost immediately p90. More are the duo battered and bloody, sodden and sagging. Gruesome monsters are oft described, but pretty visuals are spare.

From soaring the skies in a Paperwing, silver stripes on powder blue with alert yellow falcon eyes, to underground "crazed and twisted chamber of horrors" p229 battle with lines of Shadow Hands and roaring Mordicant, the evil Kerrigor will keep returning to Life until they find and destroy his empty body. Corruption forbids speaking of essential facts, leaking over seawater, erratic enough, thankfully without oracles, only the one riddle about Five Great Charters p166 explains bloodlines: the Royals, Abhorsen, Clayrs, and Mogget's ring relict of the Wallmakers left after the Wall and Stones built p217. Before continuing scary series, I'll need comic relief.

Spoilers
We see her beloved father for only "a hundred hundred heartbeats" p 219 "his hair was ragged at the back, the silver stubble just showing on his chin and sideburns .. the same sort of clothes as she .. not quite as tall as she remembered" p 215. I cheered to see Colonel Horyse again, despite his foreboding Sight; without his help, defense was impossible. The "confusing their when" time-challenged Clayrs p234 are deus ex machina. I did not understand why Sabriel hangs outside school watching our guys get snuffed when she could have tried bells or hoofed to the coffin, instead she delays, plods, everyone drinks tea waiting for her; they should have started long before; over half the soldiers pay.

Typos
p31 "he past by" for he passed by
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