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on 15 May 2010
I'm a secondary English teacher, so I often 'check out' children's literature to make recommendations for my pupils who don't like to read. The first Garth Nix book I read was Mister Monday, which although thoroughly absorbing and enjoyable is clearly written for pre-teens. So, I was wonderfully surprised when a librarian recommended Sabriel to me as this novel is definitely meant for late teens and/or adults.

The Abhorsen Chronicles is a trilogy of three novels. Sabriel is a dark, rites of passage masterpiece that rivals Lord of the Rings. It is a stand-alone novel, but as Nix created such a believable world, it is no surprise that he then created the sequels: Lirael and Abhorsen - these two books need to be read one after the other to truly appreciate the writer's craft. Not only is Nix blessed with a wonderful way with words, he is also very skilful in creating a complex web of intriguing storylines that have real meaning by the end.

I would recommend this to young adults who enjoy Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. I am sure you will also struggle to put the book down, fall in love with the characters and dream of the Old Kingdom existing somewhere out of sight in our world, just waiting to be discovered.
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Necromancers are usually the bad guys in fantasy. When you can control dead bodies, it's a given that people might not like you.

But Garth Nix turned that little trope on its head with "The Abhorsen Chronicles," three interconnected fantasies about a family of necromancers who lay the dead -- and forces of evil -- to rest. His richly-realized world, elaborate magicks and brilliantly detailed writing give this wry, horrific high-fantasy a special quality that few other fantasy books have. Each of the three books about the Abhorsens is definitely a deserving classic.

"Sabriel" is the story of a teenage girl living happily at a girl's school, while her necromancer father (the Abhorsen) roams around putting the dead to rest. All that changes when a sending brings her father's sword and bells, meaning that he is dead or incapacitated. So Sabriel takes on her father's duties, accompanied by a Free Magic cat and a mysterious young prince, and battles the specter of a horrible evil creature that is reaching out from death to snare her.

"Lirael" takes us to the cold citadel of the Clayr, a race of seers to whom the Sight is everything. Young Lirael is depressed because she doesn't have the gift of Sight yet, even though everybody else her age does. But things take a sinister turn when she sets a horrifying, bloodthirsty creature loose, and must work -- with the help of the mysterious Disreputable Dog -- to get rid of it. But what Lirael doesn't know is that the outside world is in danger too, from a sinister new enemy -- and her destiny may take her out of the Clayr glacier, to where Sabriel's family is struggling to keep their kingdom safe.

"Abhorsen" brings the series to an explosive conclusion. Lirael and her nephew Sameth -- along with "cat" Mogget and the Disreputable Dog -- are in danger from the invading Dead, and the Destroyer Orannis has escaped from his prison and is being assisted by an evil necromancer and the Dead called Chlorr -- and an unfortunate pal of Sameth's, who was mistaken for the young prince and his now be bespelled. Now Lirael must face her true destiny -- not as a Clayr, but as the future Abhorsen.

Garth Nix had only written a couple of books, one of which was an "X-Files" novelization, when the first Abhorsen book burst onto the fantasy scene. Now he's one of the most respected, prolific and well-liked fantasy writers in years -- and his tales of the Old Kingdom are undoubtedly his best work -- they are a perfect example of dark fantasy, with its grotesque dead zombies that occasionally lurch out to attack the heroes, magical bells, and shadowy beasties that can (sometimes) be restrained.

Nix's invented world is a seamless blend of the modern and the medieval, each ruling one side of the Wall -- and he handles this complex world and its magical Charter with the deftness of a master storyteller. He draws everything in exquisite detail, whether it's the labyrinthine Clayr glacier or the slightly eerie house of the Abhorsen, a bombed-out bunker or a sunny boarding school. And his command of atmosphere is great enough that his depiction of Death's gey river is enough to chill.

And he comes up with the brilliant concept of the Abhorsen necromancers -- who have power over dead and/or magical creatures, manipulate magic with little effort, and bind malignant creatures with Charter marks and a series of magical bells. Got it -- binding, not raising.

Virtually all of Nix's characters are likable -- especially the gutsy Sabriel, the strong-willed Touchstone and their nervous teenage son Sameth. Even the annoying Ellimere elicits some smiles. It takes a bit longer to warm up to Lirael, since she spends several chapters in the same-named book moping about her differentness, but once she gets moving she's unstoppable -- and quite likable, once she figures out who she is. And the animal characters are the most brilliant -- Mogget and the Disreputable Dog steal the show with their sharp wit and humorous quirks, although we're constantly reminded that these are magical beings.

Dark fantasy was redefined and reimagined in "The Abhorsen Chronicles," and Garth Nix's trilogy is a clever, action-packed, magical journey through the Old Kingdom.
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on 17 July 2009
Don't be put off by the fact you'll find the Abhorsen series in the children's/young adults section - these books are very accessible to the Adult reader. Dark, well paced and clearly and cleverly a primer to introducing children to the idea of death and the loss of loved ones. Great pace, a lot of action and a very involving story line.
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on 18 August 2014
Firstly I'd like to say, I'm a huge literary fan, and have even written stories myself, one particularity a fan fiction based off the ideas created in these books. Garth Nix manages to create a living, breathing world over the course of this vibrant trilogy.

The characters are compelling and have back stories that are bathed in lore, even the minor characters are weaves flawlessly into the story arc. Nix crafts an immersive story that takes place over The Abhorsen Trilogy filled with excitement and intrigue, for readers both young and old you will be thrilled by this classic story of friendship and adventure.

In my opinion it is one if the greatest pieces of work ever created, certainly a story I frequently return to so I can enjoy the sheer wit and literary knowledge displayed within this masterpiece.
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on 28 April 2010
Knowing nothing about the book or author I delved into Sabriel, I found it different to my usual choice of book and a bit slow to start, but the book gets better as you move through it and get into the fantasy world of The Old Kingdom. By the end I wanted to get into the next book which with the stage already set by the first book was more enjoyable. Likewise after this I was keen to start with the third of the trilogy, Abhorsen. A good series if you are into or can get into the fantasy world.
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on 18 August 2014
Fantastic series of books, Garth Nix is an amazing writer and i enjoy reading all of his books.

The Abhorsen series is one i could read over and over again and never get bored of it. From the enigmatic Mogget to the magic and necromancy, it had me gripped and wanting to read more.

I would highly recommend this book for any age group as it is a fantastic read and will keep them occupied for many hours.
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on 27 January 2014
This trilogy is brilliant, especially if you like Phillips pullman's dark materials trilogy and harry potter. Set in a mix of old world and new world, wizards and royalty, dead and the living. Brilliant read for all ages. The film will be good if that comes to fruition, however Garth is working on a new book at present. BUY this booklet.
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on 22 October 2015
It's a great fantasy book for adults or children, easy to read-not overcomplicated but still enjoyable twists and plot line. For the price it is a bargain but the book itself is VERY big and heavy-little hard to read lying down and to keep holding upright but thats a physical problem-the story itself is great xD
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on 3 September 2015
Amazing books but the quality was awful.
It would literally fall apart when trying to read it.
It was poorly bound for the quantity of papers it contained. I ended up returning this.
I purchased a box set of the individual books instead.
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on 26 April 2014
Arrived in good condition. A trilogy with add on stories aimed at older children as well as adults. The stories take you across the wall into a world ruled by magic. Excellent!
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