Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sabriel (Abhorsen, #1)” as Want to Read:
Sabriel (Abhorsen, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sabriel

(The Old Kingdom #1)

by
4.17  ·  Rating details ·  166,706 ratings  ·  6,876 reviews
Ever since she was a child, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead that won't stay dead. But now her father, the 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 feli
...more
Audio CD, 10 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published May 1995)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sabriel, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)
Cassandra Yes it does jump straight in, but if you just keep going the world-building happens as you go. In case you still want some info, basically the world…moreYes it does jump straight in, but if you just keep going the world-building happens as you go. In case you still want some info, basically the world is two parts - Ancelstierre, where Sabriel grows up, is like a late 19th century Britain - early electricity, guns, some cars, etc. The Old Kingdom, separated by a wall, is more mediævil and has magic and necromancy and cool stuff like that. Most of this book happens in the Old Kingdom. Hope that helps!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  166,706 ratings  ·  6,876 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Kat Kennedy
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Miranda Reads
3.5 stars
Death and what came after death was no great mystery to Sabriel. She just wished it was.
Sabriel and her father have a very unique brand of magic. They can communicate with the dead and the damned from the Old Kingdom.

Only they can confront such creatures and send them back to the gates of death.

Then, during the first semester of Sabriel's school, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing and Sabriel is unwittingly promoted to the Abhorson.
Does the walker choose the path, or the path the
...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
UPDATE: $1.99 Kindle US 8/22/19

Tim Curry rocks the narration 😊💕

"Yes," said Abhorsen. "I am a necromancer, but not of the common kind. where others of the art raise the dead, I lay them back to rest. And those that will not rest, I bind-or try to. I am Abhorsen . . ."

He looked at the baby again, and added, almost with a note of surprise, "Father of Sabriel."


Oh, what a wonderful little book. I loved Sabriel so much. She was so tough and just got things done.

She received a message from her fath
...more
Lyndsey
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.


Ha-ha-h
...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Very good YA fantasy! The adventures of Sabriel, an innocent young woman, and her run-ins with various types of dead, undead, once dead, sorta dead and should-be-dead people and creatures. Luckily for almost everyone concerned (except the forces of evil and the dead ones they control), 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-i ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Sabriel (Abhorsen #1), Garth Nix
First published in 1995. It is the first in his Abhorsen (Old Kingdom) series, followed by Lirael, Abhorsen, and Goldenhand. The novel is set in two neighbouring fictional countries: To the South lies Ancelstierre, which has a technology level and society similar to that of early-20th century Australia, and to the North lies the Old Kingdom, where both Free magic and Charter Magic exist — a fact officially denied by the government of Ancelstierre and disbelieved b
...more
Sh3lly
$1.99 on Amazon Kindle: December 21, 2017

I'll be honest: this is a book I never would have made it through unless I listened to it. TIM CURRY did a fabulous and amazing job narrating this fantasy. I suppose it's "young adult," even though the book really begins with the main character being 18. Sabriel went to an all-girl school for magic. The story picks up near the end of her education. She leaves because a messenger from her father sends her his bells and sword and she realizes he is in tro
...more
Charlotte May
“Then Sabriel hears it - the massed grinding of Dead joints, no longer joined by gristle; the padding of Dead feet, bones like hobtails clicking through necrotic flesh.”

Now, I’ll admit a book involving the dead (or zombies if you will) wouldn’t be a normal pick for me. Despite this, Sabriel kept my attention and there was plenty of magic and world building to hook me in!

Sabriel’s father is the Abhorsen - a necromancer with a difference! He returns the dead to their resting place, sends creature
...more
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
#1 Sabriel ★★★☆☆
#2 Lirael ???
#3 Abhorsen ???
#4 Clariel ???
#5 Goldenhand ???

Five Great Charters knit the land
Together linked, hand in hand
One in the people who wear the crown
Two in the folk who keep the Dead down
Three and Five became stone and mortar
Four sees all in frozen water.

I first read Sabriel as a preteen, and while I know I loved it – I must have, as I asked my parents to buy me the second book in the series, too – I never continued the series, nor did I remember any of the details what
...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of dark fantasy with female protagonist and horror elements
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
...more
Merna
“Let this be my final lesson. Everyone and everything has a time to die.”


I really wish I had liked Sabriel more than I actually did. It had a decent idea, however, as I kept reading I continuously kept thinking about events in my life or my plans for the next day. My mind kept drifting off 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 where endless things are happenin
...more
Heather Turner
Apr 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
...more
April (Aprilius Maximus)
3.5 stars
Caz (littlebookowl)
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
4.5 stars

Madeline
"Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?"

I’ve had a long-term project going for about five years now, where I try to hunt down and read all the YA adventure series that I was supposed to read when I was in middle school (instead, I spent those years re-reading the Prydain series, and also every single one of those Royal Diaries books – no regrets!). Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix, checks off another box on that list, although I’m pretty sure t
...more
TS Chan
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sabriel is a captivating and original tale of destiny.

Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?


I picked up this book because Brandon Sanderson recommended it in his review for Goldenhand, the 5th book in the Abhorsen series. He termed this as "one of the fundamental experiences that helped me shape my philosophy on magic systems and worldbuilding." With such an endorsement from my favourite author of all time, I cannot possibly pass over this book. And I am glad that I didn't.

As
...more
Judith Arvesu
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-
...more
Lindsey Rey
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, young-adult, fantasy
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.
Katie.dorny
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Sabriel is one hell of a kick ass character. No whinging, no feeling sorry for herself - she gets shit done! Anyone who loves ya fiction, magic and dystopian universes definitely needs to give this book a try!!
nicklein
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where was this book when I needed it?

5 stars!

Seriously, this book was GLORIOUS. If you want fast-paced, will-keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, action-packed book, this one is for you.

Mogget is hands down my favourite character in this book. He's so sassy and sarcastic and morbid and fluffy and I just love him!

“It sounds like a terribly brilliant plan to me,” muttered Mogget. “The genius of simplicity…”


The character development of Sabriel and Touchstone was brilliant especially Sabriel's. She'
...more
Carolyn
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya

Sabriel's father is the Abhorsen, the most powerful of necromancers who can bind the dead and stop them breaking through to the real world.Since her mother died when she was born, Sabriel is sent away to boarding school and only sees her father twice per year. The Kingdom they live in is divided into two parts with a wall protected by strong magic. Ancelstierre, the southern kingdom, where Sabriel is sent to school is safe and people live uneventful lives without the use of magic but the norther
...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Tim Curry narration!!!!! OMG! Imma gonna pee my pants!

So far a strong 3.5 storyline 5 Tim Curry
His voice for the cantankerous cat spirit is superb!
This was quite engaging, especially the last couple of chapters. I can see why it instantly became a classic YA fantasy series.
Sabriel searches for her father, the Abhorsen, a sort of necromancer, who is lost in the land of the dead. Along the way she meets a spirit under the control of the Abhorsens for about fourteen centuries and a sailor nickna
...more
Mara
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
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
...more
Veronica
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
This was a thoroughly enjoyable, fresh-feeling book about 18 year old Sabriel and her quest through the land of her birth. If more YA was written like this, I'd read more of it. Of course, I should point out that this book was published in 1995, well before the genre was Twilighted and, as such, there were no uber emo teenagers angsting over their melodramatic love triangles. And thank the universe for that! Instead we get a sensible and somewhat awkward young heroine who is afraid of the dark c ...more
Argona
I have read many fantasy books and I can say with certainty that this is one of those stories that stand out. Sabriel is a very unique, interesting, complex story. Like many other fantasy books, it takes a little time to understand what is going on and really get into the story, but when that happens, you will most likely take a deep breath, dive in and refuse to come out before the end.

Sabriel is a young girl but she is an adult inside. A strong female character is a gem! She is not annoying or
...more
Ryan
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australiano
The Good:
I’ll start by saying that I would have loved this when I was 13. It is full of cool ideas - the standard fantasy setting here is under threat from an undead wizard and its hordes, and also happens to border (via a magical wall) a setting analogous to early 20th century Britain. All protected by a line of hereditary necromancers. The action scenes are very well written, especially the ending, and there is the most badass cat I’ve ever met in a book.

The Bad:
I know this is intended for a Y
...more
Shayantani Das
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
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
...more
Samantha
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
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!
Simon
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • Emperor Mage (Immortals, #3)
  • Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm, #1)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)
  • The Singing
  • Crown Duel (Crown & Court #1-2)
  • The Pearl of the Soul of the World (Darkangel Trilogy, #3)
  • Flora's Fury (Flora Trilogy, #3)
  • The Goblin Wood (Goblin Wood, #1)
  • Firesong (Wind On Fire, #3)
  • Hawksong (The Kiesha'ra, #1)
  • Across the Great Barrier (Frontier Magic, #2)
See similar books…
10,338 followers
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.

De
...more

Other books in the series

The Old Kingdom (4 books)
  • Lirael (Abhorsen, #2)
  • Abhorsen (Abhorsen, #3)
  • Goldenhand (Abhorsen, #5)
“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” 995 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.”
291 likes
More quotes…