Sabriel has lived almost her entire life at Wyverly College, a private girls' boarding school in Ancelstierre, which is close enough to the border of the Old Kingdom that magic still works, although its power is somewhat diluted. Sabriel's father, Abhorsen, lives in the Old Kingdom and travels from place to place working powerful magic to keep the dead in the realm of the dead. Sabriel, too, has been learning these arts to follow in her father's footsteps, and she looks forward to finally joining him on his travels through the old kingdom, now that her years at Wyverly College are drawing to a close.
Then disaster strikes. Abhorsen disappears - he seems to be trapped in the land of death somehow. Sabriel, who hasn't been to the Old Kingdom since she was four or five years old, must leave Wyverly and journey on her own through the Old Kindom in search of him. She soon finds that she knows next to nothing about where to go, how to travel, and the dangers that await. Creatures from the realm of the dead pursue her in her quest, and all along the way are people begging for her help. Something has happened to the Old Kingdom, and the charter stones, which embody the magic that protects that land and the living, are being destroyed. With their destruction, more and more of the dead are coming into the world to prey on the living. Sabriel must help them - but she must also locate her father before it's too late to bring him back.
I read this book many years ago, and I remembered enjoying it, but I never did continue on with the series. I have become obsessed with audio books since I got an iPod for my birthday, so it seemed a good idea to listen to this one and continue on with the trilogy - especially since the narrator is none other than Tim Curry, who is an amazing reader. (He narrated the first few Lemony Snicket Unfortunate Events books, and they were so much fun! It was a pity that Lemony Snicket read the subsequent ones. I know he wrote the books, but really, who can compete with Tim Curry?)
Curry does the voices very well, skillfully portraying characters' emotional states through their dialogue. His take on the character of Mogget (an immensely powerful magical being in the form of an irascible, smart-ass cat) was particularly delightful. I had thought to listen to this one and read the others in the trilogy, but if Curry reads them all, I'm listening to them all. The story is gripping and moving, the magical world complex and believable, and Sabriel is an admirable heroine. She struggles down the path to the greater good, risking the things she holds most dear, and I rooted for her every step of the way.
The Abhorsen Trilogy:
- Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr
Other blog reviews:
Outside the Outsiders