Book 36: Sabriel

Book Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Published: 1995
Pages: 491
Category: fiction: young adult, fiction: fantasy

 


Sabriel is a book I read over and over again, since elementary school in fact. I love the story, the world Nix creates.

I was obsessed with magic, and the idea that there were worlds out there that we similar and yet so different from our own. Sabriel, the book’s namesake, is heir to a magical gift, a the title of Abhorsen passed down through her bloodline, one person charged with protecting the living from the dead. And from those who would seek to raise the dead to further their own aims.

Yet she is raised in what amounts to a traditional English boarding school, across the wall from the Old Kingdom, a place of magic unable to be explained by those she goes to school with.

There is a quest, and a love story, a cat that can talk, and magic you can speak and whistle. Music as magic, something that many of us would accept without second thought – what else could music be except a form of magic.

The theme that runs throughout the book is a question that the characters often refer to, as some sort of mantra or intrinsic saying.

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” (57)

 

The words carry weight in Sabriel’s world, and why shouldn’t they? Journeys have always been powerful. The quest trope is present throughout works through history. And why else do college students repeatedly leave to wander across Europe or South America. There are things to be discovered on a quest, things about yourself, your world, and society, that you cannot experience except by leaving your comfort zone to see the world with new eyes.
Sabriel is a wonderful book, and one that I will continue to read over and over. The book stood alone for six years, when Nix wrote a sequel, and then followed that with a third book for what is now the trilogy.

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