Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #4
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Source: ARC received from publisher at BEA
Rating: 5 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.
With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.
Was I the only one super nervous about this book? Of course I was thrilled when I heard that ten years later, Garth Nix was writing a prequel to the Old Kingdom novels that I loved so much as a kid. But nerves wrapped around me. Ten years later…that’s a long time. What if I no longer like it? What if doesn’t capture that same feel from the first three books? But I shoved those nerves aside and got excited. I got to meet Garth Nix at BEA in 2014 and get a signed ARC of this book and I almost died from all my fangirling. Garth Nix is the author that first introduced me to high fantasy and made me fall in love with the genre. So to actually get to meet him and talk to him was amazing.
Over a year later, I finally got around to rereading the original series and in turn, reading this book. It was amazing. Everything I wanted it to be. Both completely different from the original series, but still so similar. It takes place 600 years before Sabriel is born, before the Great Charter Stones were broken. Life is good, the dead stay dead, the Free Magic Creatures don’t run rampant through the kingdom. But because of this peace, the Abhorsen and the Abhorsen-in-waiting have gone lax. They care more about hunting living animals than hunting the dead. And because of this lackadaisical attitude, Free Magic creatures are getting brave.
Clariel was forced to move to the city of Belisaire with her parents when her mother took a highly coveted and revered position as one of the Gold Guild Masters, meaning she’s one of the best gold workers in the kingdom. Clariel is not happy about the move. She prefers the quiet of the forest and the city feels like a prison to her. She’s determined to leave and starts plotting, but when a Free Magic Creature is discovered to be roaming the city, she’s recruited to help and it changes everything.
I don’t think that Clariel is going to be likeable to a lot of people, but I don’t really think she’s meant to be. Clariel is unstable. She holds a lot of anger over the move and has a difficult time letting go of that anger. She makes some seriously horrible decisions, but she’s a fighter and I admired her determination to achieve her dreams.
You’re wondering if Mogget is in this book aren’t you? Well, I’m happy to report that yes, he is and he’s as devious as ever. We get to see a little more of Mogget’s darker side in this book which was interesting, but he still has that snarky side of him that I’ve grown to love so much.
The plot doesn’t move very quickly, but it never really has in any of his books. That’s because Garth Nix takes the time to put in the details that make these books so magical. Even after three books, he continues to add layers and depth to the world. He takes the time to develop his characters and even though it’s not always non-stop action, I was never bored. I was always glued to the pages, fascinated by the story that was unfolding in front of me. There were a lot of twists, one of them that was pretty jaw dropping and epic that I’m kind of still reeling from.
My one tiny complaint (which as you can see didn’t even affect my rating) was that it kind of ended abruptly. I know there’s a lot more to Clariel’s story and I wanted more, even if it was just a little bit. But really I think that’s more me just craving this world and these characters than anything else.
An excellent addition to the Abhorsen series and guess what??? In the author’s note* at the end of the book, Garth Nix says he is working on ANOTHER Old Kingdom novel
that will take place after one of his short stories, The Creature in the Case,
and will follow the story of Lirael and Nicholas Sayre! *does happy dance* Please keep writing Old Kingdom novels, Garth Nix. I will forever read them.
*Do not read the author’s note first. There is a major spoiler for the book in it.
Have you read this book yet? What did you think of Clariel? Did you think it captured the essence of the Old Kingdom?