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Monday, December 22, 2014

Clariel by Garth Nix

This is an example of  exceptional YA novels and it makes me proud to say that I'm an adult that loves young adult novels. Although Clariel  is  identified as the fourth book of The Old Kingdom series, it's actually a prequel to Sabriel, the book that started it all. I must have read the other books of the series a good ten years ago when I was a real young adult in high school, and while I remember loving the series, I don't remember the stories specifically. This allowed me to read Clariel with an open mind and enjoy it as the prequel its supposed to be.

Like all good high fantasy novels, the story begins with a lot of description and a lot of world building. Garth Nix introduces us to his world little by little, which made me fall in love with The Old Kingdom all over again. As a main character, Clariel may not be the most thrilling person to read about, probably because all she wishes for is a quiet life as a Borderer, a ranger of the Great Woods. She doesn't have any political or magical aspirations, but unfortunately, as a relative to both the royal family and the magical Abhorsen family, a simple life isn't possible. Thrown in a feud she doesn't want to be a part of,  she must live through very difficult moments in order to survive and try to get the life she wants.

One of the genius aspects of this series is the world building, especially when it comes to magic. There are two types of magic; Charter Magic and Free Magic. Charter Magic is controlled by a series of words or symbols called Charter marks, but the Charter flows through everything and everyone. Charter Mages are more in tune with the Charter and learn to control the Charter through these marks. Combined together, the Charter marks form spells that can either last a few minutes or centuries. The Abhorsen family, or more specifically, the head of the family that is simply known as the Abhorsen, are highly trained in Charter magic and are also necromancers that use bells in order to control the dead. Free Magic can also be used by the Abhorsens but because of the dangerous lure of Free Magic, any Free Magic user is seen as an enemy to Charter Mages. The author has created such a complex and original world that it's sometimes a little hard to follow. Fortunately, there is a great bonus material on his website that helps clarify things.

Clariel goes through a personal transformation because of a series of unfortunate events. She becomes a stronger and more knowledgeable person. She learns to rely on other people, for example Bel, a boy whom she befriends early in the story, even though Bel has ideas beyond friendship. She also relies on other people and less reputable creatures in order to exact her revenge and save the kingdom from tyranny. A tall order for a girl who wanted a simple life of living off the forest. Clariel must also learn to control her rage, a state of mind that makes her lose control of her actions but can be harnessed and used to her advantage.

I didn't go too much into details with this review because it would be too easy to reveal spoilers. Personally, I really enjoyed this book and I think it can be enjoyed by both fans of The Old Kingdom and newcomers to the series. Garth Nix is a wonderful storyteller and even if it took him about a decade for him to release this prequel, I personally think it was worth the wait. Another great book to add to my favorites shelf.

stephsig moon

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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