Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A difficult path

Does the walker choose the path, or does the path choose the walker? This is a question that is raised repeatedly throughout Sabriel. Sabriel is a child with a destiny, and almost before her childhood is ended, that destiny is thrust upon her. The path that has chosen her is a difficult one, indeed.

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:
  1. Sabriel
  2. Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr
  3. Abhorsen
Sabriel (#1 in the Abhorsen Trilogy) by Garth Nix; read by Tim Curry (Listening Library, 2002)

Other blog reviews:
Graculus's Blog
Outside the Outsiders



  1. I absolutely love this trilogy. They were all excellent but if I had to choose a favourite it would probably be the second book, Lirael. I'm not sure why, maybe because she was a librarian or maybe I just liked *her*. Whatever, I hope you enjoy listening to the other two books.

  2. Ooh, a librarian - sounds good to me! I'm looking forward to continuing this series. I also got the audio version of the first book in Nix's The Keys to the Kingdom series to listen to. Have you read those? They look good, too!

  3. This sure sounds good!

  4. Ooh, I can't wait to hear what you think of Lirael. It's my fav. of the trilogy as well.

  5. Oh, how I love Mogget! I had almost forgotten about him. You're making me want to re-read this series.

    The other books are even better than Sabriel in my opinion! I remember that when I started Lirael I was upset that he had introduced a new main character instead of continuing with Sabriel, but it took me, oh, 10 pages to get over that.

    Like Cath mentioned, the library where Lirael works at the start of the book is AMAZING! Plus she's a great character.

    I have the first book of the Keys to the Kingdom series, but I've yet to read it. They definitely do sound good!

  6. Tim Curry is awesome! He looks better in stockings than most woman I know, he has such killer legs. I loved this series and I hope you enjoy the second and third books too.

  7. This is one of my absolute favorite trilogies! I wish he would write more in this setting. I didn't know that Tim Curry did the audio book!! That's so cool. I love him...I'll definitely have to check that out.

  8. I know I've heard of this before. It's a fairly older book right? I agree, no one can compete with Tim Curry! He could honestly give up his job as an actor and be a professional audio book narrator.

  9. No, I haven't read The Keys to the Kingdon series yet, but I have the first one, Mister Monday, on my tbr mountian. My daughter tells me that series is excellent too - I just have to get around to it.

  10. Gautami tripathy - it was very good - a bit dark (I felt a lot of sympathy for Sabriel having to take on so much right out of school like that), but definitely a great read.

    Nicola - now I think I'll have to bump up #2 and read it very soon - maybe before the other series!

    Nymeth - you'll have to listen to Tim Curry doing Mogget (I wonder if I could embed an audio clip? Hmm - I'll have to look into that!) - you'll love it! I know what you mean about when they introduce a new main character and you were expecting the same one. I'm glad I've been warned. And the library sounds intriguing - can't wait to see it!

    Rhinoa - and you know, someone with great legs reads audio books much better than someone without. :-)

    Cath - I'm thinking I may just continue with this series now that everyone has me all fired up about it, and then move on to Keys to the Kingdom.


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