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Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen, and to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, Clariel finds herself at the centre of sorcery and intrigue: a plot is brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan; her parents want to marry her off to a killer; and a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage and save the King?

Set approximately six hundred years before the birth of Sabriel, Clariel will delight Old Kingdom fans as well as new readers hungry for epic fantasy adventure.

432 pages, Paperback

First published October 14, 2014

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About the author

Garth Nix

268 books13.6k followers
Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing 'Hail the Conquering Hero Comes' or possibly 'Roll Out the Barrel'. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a boot full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.

Despite a wheel literally falling off the Austin, Garth survived to return to Australia and study at the University of Canberra. After finishing his degree in 1986 he worked in a bookshop, then as a book publicist, a publisher's sales representative, and editor. Along the way he was also a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, serving in an Assault Pioneer platoon for four years. Garth left publishing to work as a public relations and marketing consultant from 1994-1997, till he became a full-time writer in 1998. He did that for a year before joining Curtis Brown Australia as a part-time literary agent in 1999. In January 2002 Garth went back to dedicated writer again, despite his belief that full-time writing explains the strange behaviour of many authors.

He now lives in Sydney with his wife, two sons and lots of books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,608 reviews
Profile Image for Kcatty.
160 reviews48 followers
August 13, 2016
This book was hard to read, but not for the reasons you’re probably thinking of.

Garth Nix’s writing was the best it’s ever been. It’s not my favorite style, but I like it nonetheless. The plot was engaging, the pacing was good – not fantastic, but not widely variable or unbearably slow – and the worldbuilding was, as usual, wonderful.

This was hard for me to read because Clariel reminded me a lot of myself when I was younger.

My parents took me out of the public school system after 8th grade and enrolled me in a private school for 9th grade. They destroyed my social support and threw my academics off-track, and I’ve never let them forget that they deliberately ignored me and my protests through the whole process.

The whole time I was reading this book, every time Clariel expressed her single-minded desire to go back home, it was very hard to not throw all my support behind her. I was never quiet about the fact that I didn’t want to be in private school; it was obnoxious and unkind to the friends I made that year, but for me leaving was the most important thing in the world, and I was never going to let anyone forget that.

But what I learned at that school was that I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did. When you spend your whole life in one environment, it’s very hard to separate yourself from your surroundings. And for all that we strive to make our environments suit us, we often grow more, and learn more about ourselves, in unfamiliar settings.

Many of the assumptions I’d made about myself through life were proven wrong in 9th grade – that I couldn’t make friends, that I could be a one-woman island against the world, but also the idea that I should force myself to talk to people even when I wasn’t comfortable. Hell, I developed most of my social skills that year.

So it was very, very hard for me to not root for Clariel in her quest to get back to the forests; it was equally hard for me to disapprove of her parents’ arguments that she would grow to like Belisaere, make friends and adapt to the new environment.

I don’t agree with the people whose reactions to the book were negative because Clariel’s character was selfish, impulsive and unwise for the decisions she made and the beings she trusted. Not because it’s untrue (it is very true, in fact), but because I myself contemplated doing things relatively as drastic as what she did, and if I’d had more backbone and been less indecisive, I would have gone through with them – and they would had backfired as dramatically as Clariel’s actions did.

And that’s what I think Garth Nix was trying to portray with this book: that period in every person’s life when they’re forced out of their comfort zone and into alien environments, forced to interact with new people; and how their reactions and ultimate success or failure with the change is influenced so much by who they are and who surrounds them and does, or doesn’t, support them.

And part of the reason I think this worked so well was that this book is the other side of the Old Kingdom Universe coin, a foil to the first three books. Sabriel , Lirael and Abhorsen tell the stories of young women who haven’t found their places yet, who are thrown out of their comfort zones into truly brutal environments and forced with very little support to discover their destinies and save the world – and they succeed spectacularly.

But the exact opposite happens to Clariel – the environment she’s forced into isn’t hostile; she has a multitude of possible friends and mentors, numerous new skills she could learn and become competent at. The possibilities are endless, her future completely in her hands.

And the tragedy of it all is that, even with all this potential, Clariel is still completely isolated and fails miserably at anything she attempts. Her friends and mentors have their own agendas; she is given no time to adjust to Belisaere before being given responsibility far beyond her capabilities; and her own stubborn loner personality prevents her from reaching out to the right people, asking for help at the right times – even recognizing possible dangers until it’s too late. Out of the perfect situation is created the perfect storm.

So of course the pacing of the story is going to be rough, of course the best characters are going to be underutilized – if the story had been steadier, if the right characters had been present, then Clariel wouldn’t have turned out the way she did.

The people who are supposed to be role models, whose jobs it is to take care of the Kingdom and its people, are so wrapped up in their own wants, their own personal grudges, that a very stable situation turns to shit in a matter of weeks. They have all the resources, all the energy and all the time in the world to do their jobs, and they waste all of it completely. And Clariel is caught in the middle of this whole mess, disoriented and alone, and the story shows that.

Another complaint I saw was that this wasn’t a whole story, that it felt like a rough draft that was missing a good conclusion and a good protagonist. And they’re right, this wasn’t a complete story and it did lack a sympathetic protagonist.

Clariel isn’t a full story: it’s a snippet, a couple weeks pulled from history to help us understand how things were and how they came to be what they are now. No, the story didn’t finished: we didn’t get to see all of Clariel’s history, only the beginning of her descent into the horrifying Greater Dead creature we saw in Lirael and Abhorsen.

But that’s the point. Nix purposefully leaves the rest of the story untold, forcing us to imagine how far both Clariel/Chlorr and the Old Kingdom have come in the intervening 600 years. One of my complaints about Sabriel is that we were told very little about how the Old Kingdom was in Touchstone’s time, forced (again) to imagine how it was and how it came to be what it was in Sabriel’s time. I think Clariel fulfills that role – it creates a third point of reference so that we can better track the changes to the Old Kingdom over time.

That’s why the book was so worldbuilding-heavy, and why Clariel’s story took a backseat at times to the machinations and worries of other characters. This book was the tale of a participant in a larger story, a few weeks during a minor crisis – in a history of the Old Kingdom, Clariel, daughter of Jaciel and Harven, would be a footnote, perhaps not even given a paragraph in the chapter of the 1300s AW.

This story is completely Clariel’s, her point-of-view on full display and her experiences in detail. But it’s also not hers at all, because she’s only one cog in the greater political and magical machines of the Old Kingdom.

So don’t be so hard on the book – it wasn’t supposed to be a regular book, and I don’t think it would’ve been any good if Nix had written it as such.


Pre-read obsessive updating has been deleted to save characters, but I've kept the art links.

Tons of art! Also, the new cover artist, Sebastian Ciaffaglione, is on tumblr! He's been posting some Old Kingdom art along with original and other series' art. A Sabriel sketch and some back cover monsters. Lirael and Sabriel. The British hardcover art for Across The Wall, Sabriel, more Sabriel, and all nine gates of Death, traveled by Lirael and illustrated by Laura Tolton the Great. Art on Laura Tolton the Great's tumblr and a whole blog of art. And to the user named Astarael: I shall share with you creations regarding our shared bell (and my tumblr url). Will I do this for anybody else with a bell-themed goodreads name? No. Nobody talks about the bells at all, it's annoying. And lastly, art!
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
April 28, 2018
“Anyone can go into death” said Mogget, with a smirk. “Coming back again is the difficult part.”

I am loving this series so much!
Clariel is a prequel to The Old Kingdom series, about 600 years earlier.

Clariel likes her life, sure her parents could be a bit more caring and pay a bit more attention, but she’s got her Aunt Lemmin and the wonderful forest she loves to explore.
So when her parents decide the family is going to up and move to Belisare, and send her to a ‘finishing school’ Clariel is heartbroken. She cannot bear to be torn away from her beloved forest.

“Does the Walker choose the path, or the path the Walker?”

School is no better. She is taught how to pour tea, and the correct way to introduce herself to other noble men and women, as well as the art of charter magic, something she has never thought much of before.

Belisare is full of tension and political intrigue. The King has withdrawn from all duties, and the Governor has taken over without anyone really noticing or calling him out on it.
When everything blows up and things get cray, Clariel is moved to her grandfathers house - the current Abhorsen. But she knows it’s just another prison, another blockade keeping her from the forest she desires so badly, so Clariel plans to escape, by any means necessary.
Clariel is different to the previous books I’ve read in this series. There is less of the ‘death’ parts and less Charter magic. But there is more focus on free magic and the other side of things.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I’m excited to jump into the final book!

“The most important thing is to be true to yourself, however you feel, and not try to feel or behave differently because you think you should, or someone has told you how you must feel.”
Profile Image for Catherine.
85 reviews27 followers
April 1, 2020
If I die before this book comes out, Garth, I assure you that no Abhorsen will be able to prevent me from coming back for it.


Oh My GOD! Can it be??? An actual cover?! And a release date?! What good deed did I do to finally deserve this?! Let's hope I manage to stay alive for a few more months...I'd rather not have to battle any Abhorsens if I can avoid it.
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
763 reviews1,476 followers
November 10, 2014
First of all, let me get this out of the way: everyone calling Clariel - the character - names can shut the hell up. I'm pissed as hell at the number of people writing her off as a bitch, whiny, self-centered, etc., especially when that's the extent of their critique of the book. It smells of misogyny and it needs to stop.

Now, as for the book...

I've been waiting for this book for a long time - pretty much since I read the original trilogy and first came across rumors that this was in the works. It had a high standard to meet, as the Abhorsen books are some of the best YA I've ever read. The thing is, from the time the first few chapters came out as a sampler, I've had an inkling that this wasn't going to match its predecessors. And, sadly, I was right.

I came out of this book with the strong impression that I'd read an early draft, not a finished product. It has a lot of the hallmarks of an under-revised work: too many characters who wind up too under-used, uneven pacing, blocky infodumps, awkward and jarring switches out of the third-person-limited POV. Even on a sentence level it felt in need of editing: there were far too many "Clariel felt x because y" type lines, which with another pass could have been smoothed out into something much less amateur. Top that off with the fact that the book ends before the most interesting and novel part of Clariel's story and well, this wasn't at all what I've been waiting for. It felt like Nix had been writing himself back into the Old Kingdom as an exercise (he's not written in it for 10 years, after all) and somehow that freewrite got bound and published.

The thing that makes this all the more frustrating is that there is a lot of potential here. Clariel herself holds most of it: she's a berserker, she's got an aptitude for necromancy, and we all know she's destined to be Chlorr of the Mask in Lirael/Abhorsen - her story could be either a fascinating story of villainous descent or a tragedy of losing a sense of self, or both. (Also, she's canonically asexual and aromantic, which makes her dear to me in particular.) Then there's the world - we've actually never seen a fully functional Old Kingdom; even in Lirael and Abhorsen it's still being rebuilt, and in Sabriel it's the nation-wide equivalent of a ghost town. Nix had a distinct opportunity here to explore what an entire country filled with necromancers, Clayr, and Charter Mages would look like... and he wrote pretty much all three of those groups out of it. The only necromancers we see are the Abhorsens, none of whom actually go into Death (not even ONE antagonistic necromancer? anywhere?); the Clayr don't really show up at all, and Charter Magic is out of fashion in the society, so doesn't play a part. (furthermore, Clariel doesn't have a strong aptitude for the Charter, so even though she's supposedly learning it the reader never really gets to see it used.) Ancelstierre plays no role in this story at all, which is... understandable but regrettable. The land beyond the Rift has the potential to be involved, but isn't. All this leaves the Old Kingdom feeling a great deal more generic than it does in the original trilogy, and instead of the sense of coming back to a fantasy world I loved, I wound up with the sense that a bait-and-switch had been performed.

I wanted to enjoy this book, really I did - but all the things that I enjoyed about the original trilogy were absent. My hopes are still up for the promised post-Abhorsen fifth volume, especially as it's less likely to have the 'writing onesself into the world' feeling that this did by dint of coming soon (hopefully) after Clariel. And hey - maybe Nix will get back into the swing of things and someday we'll get a sequel to this book, or a prequel about some of the fascinating history it mentioned (lady pirates on the Ratterlin? Mistress Ader as Abhorsen? I'd love more on both). I still want more from this world and from Nix as an author; it just happens that this didn't hit the mark at all.

A couple of final notes/quibbles under the cut:
Profile Image for Ashley.
106 reviews
October 30, 2014
I hate to give this one star because I really love Garth Nix and the Abhorsen books, but there were so many things I didn't like about this book.
1) Clariel. Wow. I don't think I have ever disliked a heroine more. So selfish, so self-absorbed, and just not interesting at all. No one cares about your stupid forest, move on.
2) What was this book supposed to be? Weird YA finishing school book? fantasy? All I know is almost all of it was dull. Reading about the guild outfits and the clothes in general was dull, the town was dull, the characters were almost all unappealing. So little happened and having to listen to Clariel complain about wanting to go to the forest what felt like every second page was just awful. The other books in the series had instantly sucked me in with their world building with the dead, bells,etc but this had none of that.
3) The tone of the book was off for me. People not caring about charter magic, everyone uninterested in their duties...the guilds. It just didn't work for me and I wasn't able to get excited about any of it. It also seemed so unbelievable that everyone would suck so hard. Like basically no adult character in the book was good at their job or cared about their job unless they were crazy/evil/power-hungry, etc.

Reading this did make me decide to re-read the other Abhorsen books and I still enjoy a lot of Garth Nix's other work (Key to the Kingdom series, Confusion of Princes,etc) but I really really disliked Clariel unfortunately.
Profile Image for anna.
95 reviews4 followers
August 1, 2019
Received an ARC of the book. Currently about 1/4 of the way through...initial thoughts: this book is suffering from the same thing that made me dislike Lirael--lack of action, too much build up.

Sabriel worked out so well because the beginning was quite fast paced. Problem arises, Sabriel makes the decision to do something about it and she's off to the races. I can't stand it when the protag is sort of wishy washy about going for his/her goals. I know situations change as more information is revealed, but at least initially I wanted Clariel to be very clear about what she wanted and how she was going to get it. If she can't even come up with some feasible plans, then she must not want her goal badly enough and I don't have the patience to read her mopey inner dialogue.

Will continue update.

UPDATE: Finished book 7/1/14. The book gets three stars for interesting world building. I liked finding out more about the history of the Old Kingdom, the society of Belisaere, how Free Magic can be used and the agenda of Free Magic creatures. But if you didn't like Lirael very much (as I didn't), then you won't like Clariel for probably the same reasons. Most of the book is Clariel going "wah wah I just wanna do my own thing, leave me alone" and nothing really happens until the last 3 chapters. I get the feeling that Clariel is supposed to be a tragic, tortured hero, but mostly I'm just irritated with her.

Spoilers ahead, keep reading at your own risk.

11 reviews1 follower
November 27, 2014
Much like the Legend of Korra, this long-awaited sequel follows the ostensibly dramatic and exciting adventure of an uncharismatic and constantly whining main character in a setting that is nostalgic until you realize its rather whiny as well. Wonder how a setting can be whiny? Supporting characters fade into the background, until you look around and wonder "is this inn haunted by a complaining ghost or what?".

The story somehow fails to convey the sense of urgency and humor that characterized the previous installments of the series, and is only kept alive (alive being a rather generous description, think more semi-vegetative and on life-support) by cameos by characters from the other stories (I'm looking at you Mogget). Nix makes an effort to do so, but doesn't manage to reconcile the Old Kingdom in its prime (well, not prime but much better than the crumbling wreck it was in the original trilogy) with the story itself.

Oh yeah, and the book was far too short. I mean, it's like 300 pages, but nothing ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

I know I'm older now, but I reread the goddamn series a couple lonths ago and it felt a lot better than this so its not childhood nostalgia.
Profile Image for First Second Books.
560 reviews548 followers
July 8, 2014
Garth Nix wrote a new Abhorsen book! And not only that, there’s going to be yet another new Abhorsen book after this one! How exciting is that?

One of the things I really liked about the book was the portrayal of the main character’s sexuality. People keep running around and being like, ‘marriage! dating! these are the most important things!’ and instead, she’s, ‘how do you have time for this; people are trying to kill us!’ and also, 'my career is far more important to me than any possibility of romance.’ I feel like these are both sensible viewpoints, and things we could see more of in YA.
Profile Image for Kat.
156 reviews44 followers
September 27, 2014
THANK GOD IT'S OVER!!!! That was one of the most painful reading experiences I have had in a long time. I honestly have not idea why the author felt this book needed to exist.

It really didn't.

Now, it was a long time ago that I read the Old Kingdom trilogy, but I am vaguely aware of liking it, if I can't quite remember the details. For example I have no idea who Clariel is supposed to become in the original series. Her name is mentioned at the end of the book, and it rings a bell, but considering how utterly dull her story is, I really don't get why we needed to know about it. Don't get me wrong, some stuff happens, but the way its told, the story is left feeling plodding and bland. In fact bland is a very good word to describe most aspects of this book.

Story? Bland
Writing? Bland
Characters? Insufferably, painfully bland.

The characters though. Jeez, they were literally all the exact same. They spoke the same, acted the same (yup you guessed it, bland). There was no variation in their personalities. If we weren't supposed to like Clariel, then Mr Nix, you did a brilliant job. She is, quite possibly the hardest character to warm up to. She's cold, distant, selfish, and not in a cool, bad guy way which actually makes you like them. She was just plain unlikeable. Every few sentences she'd whine about how she wanted to get back to her precious forest. She had the emotional range of lard and was more than willing to abandon someone who had been trying to help her in the middle of nowhere, just so she could return to her precious forest. But like I said, maybe we're not supposed to like her. But the while point in visiting the back story of a bad guy, is to see why it is they become the people they become and possibly understand them a little better. See a different side to their personalities. All I gleaned from this book is the Clariel had no personality.

This was quite simply, a story that lacked any kind of life, or substance. Which saddens me immensely!!

Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
October 1, 2015
It’s a bit surprising to me to see the disappointed reviews of this, because I quite enjoyed it. Of course, it’s a different world to the one Sabriel enters, and different even from the world that Lirael and Sameth have to navigate as Sabriel and Touchstone work on restoring the Old Kingdom. This one doesn’t feature any contact with Ancelstierre, and is set before even Touchstone/Torrigan’s time. So naturally, the concerns of its people, the politics, are all quite different. It’s interesting to see an Abhorsen clan which is much larger than that of Sabriel’s time, but which is decidedly weaker; it’s interesting to see in Sameth the diffidence of earlier Abhorsens.

But in fact, I like Clariel herself rather more than Lirael or Sameth. She has goals and she pursues them, and she doesn’t have to take on responsibility, but she does. Of course, all her choices go wrong, unlike Sabriel or Lirael’s. If you think about the guiding words of these books, “Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” — you could almost say that Sabriel, knowing her choices, chooses her path. Clariel’s path chooses her, because she’s not given the information she needs to make her own choice. In neither case is there really an alternate way, but Sabriel’s path is knowing and Clariel’s is forced.

It’s interesting to get a look at the bloodlines in the land and how they work out in a time of peace. Because of the strength of Sabriel and her father, and Touchstone and Sabriel’s rule, it’s easy in the trilogy to think that when the bloodlines are in the right place, everything will be alright. Clariel shows us that it isn’t, and gives us a picture of the other troubles of the Old Kingdom. There are no Dead creatures here in this book; instead we see the Abhorsens and Charter mages needing to deal with the other threat, of Free Magic.

One thing I really loved, on a character-level, is that Clariel is explicitly asexual. She’s not interested, she’s not going to change her mind for the right person or something, and like many ace people, she’s even experimented a bit to try and figure out how that all works. It’s awesome that she doesn’t really have conflict about this, and while people think she may be mistaken, nobody’s pushing her to “fix” it, or guilting her because she doesn’t want that.

In a way, the story feels very incomplete, because it’s just a fragment of a life, a tiny piece of the history of the Old Kingdom, and it doesn’t connect up the dots between this book and the original trilogy. There is plenty of room for many, many more stories, even ones featuring the same characters, should Nix choose. But we do have the shape of Clariel’s life sketched out for us, between this book and the original trilogy; I think it may be more satisfying seen that way, rather than read as a stand-alone.

Originally posted here. Some discussion in the comments!
Profile Image for Gergana.
227 reviews391 followers
May 24, 2015

IF I hear one more word about Clariel's stupid forest, I am buying a chainsaw ^_^

Ok, so with THIS out of the way, I can safely say - I enjoyed Clariel. But ...it didn't feel like a part of the Old Kingdom series. In fact, it felt more like a pretty good YA novel, with an angsty teen trying to fit in the world while being misunderstood and hindered by the ignorant, unreliable adults.

The first 25% were absolutely amazing and filled with so much potential! The setting was interesting, the world building was even better than Sabriel's, in my opinion, and the protagonist, Clariel, starts of as a narrow-minded, self-obsessed, unambitious 17 year old who is forced to conform to the will of her rich parents and GET A LIFE! So many possibilities for character development, right? ...right?

Around the middle, things get serious and there's plenty of action and pure awesomeness from Clariel and the supporting cast! You are reading about something mundane and then - SLAP! Blood, gore and heads flying around! I could not see them coming!

In addition, I give Garth Nix two thumbs up for making Clariel an A-sexual - great to see different sexual orientations depicted in fiction! Plus if Clariel whined about boyfriends as much as her forest I would've ...stopped reading...

And this is where the main problem is.
- Clariel wants to leave everything behind and go live in the Great Forest.
- Clariel wants to go to the Forest
- Clariel wants to be a hunter and move to the Forest
- Clariel hates the city and wants to be alone in the Forest
- She can finally be happy if she can go to the Forest
- Why can't she be in the Forest?
- blah-blah-blah Forest
- blah-blah-blah Forest
- etc. Forest

Unfortunately, I am not kidding. We hear her complaining about her forest non-stop...until the very end. And that's where the second problem is - Clariel never changes. At one point in the book she goes through hell, she is taken away from everything she has ever known and after all this, she is still exactly the same - stubborn and ignorant. She doesn't care about anyone, she doesn't care about her friends, her family, her kingdom, the people...all she cares about is her forest.

Her city is in turmoil and everyone might die?

Basically, she is selfish to the point where she is willing to endanger the life of her friends in order to go fulfill her personal vendetta or go to the Great forest.

The ending, alas, felt rushed and unsatisfying (in my own opinion). After the intense fights in the middle, nothing much happens up to around 95% and even then, you keep wondering what Clariel is thinking (apart from the forest, of course)

...I know I sound negative, but the truth is I could not put this book down. Despite all my problems with the main character, the story was thrilling and it manages to keep you on your toes most of the time!

I definitely recommend to check Clariel out if you:
-are a fan of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series.
-enjoy angsty YA novels
-don't mind repetitions
-are passionate about the forest


Profile Image for Eric Allen.
Author 3 books733 followers
December 17, 2014
I loved the first two books in the series during high school, and I believe Abhorsen came out when I was in college, but ask any woman on earth and she'll tell you that men never really grow up, so there you go. It's been a long, long, loooooooong wait for more stories that take place in this world, and I'm excited to see that Garth Nix has more plans for it in the future.

Unfortunately, Clariel was a little disappointing to me. The other books are just so good, and this one, while not exactly bad, doesn't really live up to its predecessors. Most of the reason that this book was rather mediocre was because of its protagonist. Clariel is just so unlikeable that it's hard to be invested in any story about her. All she does is whine and cry about wanting to go to the forest and live her life alone away from anyone that can bother her. She hits this one-note of personality about five billion times over the course of the book.

When you look at the other books in the series, you've got Sabriel who is a reluctant heroine drawn into a desperate fight against a monster that seeks to utterly destroy her homeland when she sets off to rescue her father. And then you've got Lirael, the outcast who finds and develops unexpected talents and abilities that lead her to a destiny far greater than anything she ever dreamed of as a child. Next to them, Clariel is rather bland, boring, and annoying. When you don't like or don't care about the characters in a story, it's very hard to feel any of the tension and drama. Those things come from caring about the characters and genuinely wanting to see them triumph in the end. I didn't really care about Clariel throughout most of the book. I found her annoying and childish, and spent most of my time with the book wishing I was reading about Lirael (by far my favorite character in the series) instead.

It's not a bad book, but it is a mediocre one, made more so when it is compared to Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen, the previous three releases in this series. If you really want to know the origins of give it a try. Otherwise, this is pretty much a story that didn't really need to be told. I was hoping for a bigger look at the past of The Old Kingdom, as this book takes place 600 years before Sabriel, but everything is from Clariel's point of view, and Clariel doesn't give a crap about anything but running away to her forest, so that's the only part of The Old Kingdom's past you really get to hear much of. Though not entirely bad, it just didn't live up to my expectations for this series.
Profile Image for Josh.
1,636 reviews148 followers
April 27, 2018
I've been waiting for another novel set in the world of the Old Kingdom for a long time now, and, despite having moments that brought back the enjoyment of LIRAEL and SABRIEL, the long ago prequel to SABRIEL doesn't quite live up to my expectations.

CLARIEL leans heavily towards the YA styling's of Garth Nix's other fantasy series targeted at that demographic. The toned down storytelling is evident, as is the teenage angst and constant reference to love despite Clariel's predicament (even though she shows no interest in her male suitors, it's a constant theme throughout).

Clariel, sees her family decimated before her eyes, traverses the Old Kingdom in search of the Abhorsens for sanctuary from the threat of the Belisaere governor. Here, readers of the series are treated with a familiar character and further elements of Free Magic as Clariel slowly builds towards realizing her path and takes the first tentative steps towards justice for her slain family.

I really liked the last third of CLARIE. It had everything I'd come to love from the Old Kingdom trilogy before it (mages, free and charter magic, bells), yet the set up is what let CLARIEL down.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Review first appeared on my blog: http://justaguywholikes2read.blogspot...
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,228 reviews2,058 followers
April 30, 2015
Out of the series so far I felt that this was one of the best ones. Clariel is a nice strong female lead character and although she makes lots of mistakes she never gives up. It was interesting to see much more of Mogget whose character I still have not really worked out. I wonder if a future book will feature him and explain what he actually is and why he is bound. I have really liked this series so far and really enjoy Garth Nix's world building. The idea of the Abhorsen is excellent as is chartered and free magic. I look forward to another book in this series.
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
627 reviews302 followers
June 7, 2018
Clariel is better known as the centuries-old necromancer and later the Greater Dead creature Chlorr of the Mask in Lirael. This is her early story.

Clariel wants nothing more than to live as a Borderer in the Great Forest of Estwael. So when she is dragged by her Master Goldsmith mother Jaciel to Belisaire, to marry the Governer’s son Aronzo and forever be trapped in a life she is desperate to escape, Clariel takes steps to ensure her own freedom – even if it comes at a great cost.
This is not your typical origin story. This does not detail how Clariel becomes Chlorr the necromancer – rather, it details the early steps taken by Clariel so that you can understand how someone from the ‘good’ side of magic can become so twisted and corrupted. Clariel is not gifted with strong Charter Magic nor much knowledge of the Abhorsens due to a family feud, but she is gifted with the beserk rage familiar in both Touchstone and Sam, and that is tainted with Free Magic. Through the Free Magic, Clariel works to get what she wants – but doing the wrong thing for the right reason is still the wrong thing, and that’s a lesson I Clariel doesn’t learn, and I suspect still doesn’t learn later in her life and contributes to her downfall as Chlorr.

Clariel is of course our protagonist. She’s strong-willed and knows exactly what she wants in life, even at only 17. She’s also trapped under her mother’s tyrannical reign. It’s super easy to identify with Clariel’s chafing need to spread her wings and be independent, knowing she will thrive in her chosen career as a Borderer, and feel the helpless obedience that comes with being a dependent child. She’s also asexual, which I think, for some, might be interesting. I couldn’t really tell if it was just used as a minor plot point to keep rejecting certain suitors’ advancements on her. It certainly was easy to feel her horror as news of her arranged marriage came through. She’s not particularly selfish but she is self-absorbed to the point where that’ll the catalyst, she’s abrasive to the horror of other characters and doesn’t want to take part in their charades.
We see little of Clariel’s parents, her father who does the admin side of the goldsmithing business despite being a talented smith himself, and Jaciel, who is more obsessed with her work than he own family.
Also appearing is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting-in-Waiting, Belariel, or Bel, who is Clariel’s cousin and friend from the Academy. Bel is concerned that the current Abhorsens, in a family of 300 strong, are too busy ceremoniously hunting to face the tasks required of the real Abhosren, so Bel’s been training at night and reading The Book of the Dead in secret.
Also popping up for a pretty major role in corrupting Clariel is Moggett, the wiley twisty little feline-bound Free Magic creature who cannot be trusted!

The biggest issue I had going in was that I was expecting more of clean and cut origin story when really, it sort of hinted at Clariel’s weakness and her eventual downfall to come. Imagine writing a Joker origin story where at the end he’s just getting involved in crime but he doesn’t fall into the vat of chemicals that changes him forever; or a Batman Begins without Bruce Wayne ever making the Batsuit; or a Superman story that is basically Smallville where we never see Supes don the cape, but while that works for Smallville, it took me until actually finishing the book to realise I wasn’t going to get Clariel’s tragic fall into the Joker vat of chemicals after all. We don’t see her become a necromancer – we see her fight the urge. We don’t see her do anything evil, really – she still tries to save lives and even though she does murder people, that can be viewed through a justice or revenge lens.

This book tricks you. It tricks you into thinking it’s got a slower pace than it does. We follow Clariel around the city for the first third before anything of interest really happens, much like following Lirael in the library – it’s all a big set up that you don’t even realise is happening. Then it’s all go-go-go all the time until you’re screaming at yourself to stop reading so fast, it’ll all be over soon.

I certainly think Clariel is a book you’ll only get the most enjoyment out of if you’ve read the previous Old Kingdom books.

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
24 reviews20 followers
June 18, 2014
I was lucky enough to get a ARC of this at BEA in New York and let me tell you it was worth the ten years of waiting. I can't get kids at my school to read the series, or if they do they don't tell me about it, but they are nuts is all I can say because this stuff is so good it makes my head hurt. I look into the air as I read this and look for Charter Marks. None yet but I am not giving up hope!

The story took some time to build but now I am bereft that it is over. I was hoping for more magic early on but once it rolled it rolled right over me!

And I would have said any time with Mogget is a good time but he was on fire this time. I really got a good feel for the Free Magic that lies just underneath that collar of his.

And the note at the end? Drove me right back to the older books in the series!

Worth the wait but now I have to decide if I go right back to read the other books or if I tear myself away from the Old Kingdom just so that I don't drive my family crazy ringing bells! What I would give for a set of bells!!!
Profile Image for Mortuary .
99 reviews1 follower
Want to read
August 1, 2011
I wonder if this book is really ever going to come out. I believe I first saw that is was to be published in 2010. Then 2011, now, I come back and make sure it didn't sneak up on me and I can finally read it and there saying 2012. Ugh! I really hope they put this book out soon. Or stop teasing us and take it off of here.
Profile Image for Erik Fazekas.
479 reviews196 followers
January 1, 2015
Prvého marca roku Pána 2014 mi zrazu a bez varovania prišiel e-mail s novým rukopisom od Gartha Nixa. A ja som takmer vyskočil štyri metre šesťdesiat od šťastia. A potom sa zavrel do "kyslej budky", lebo som o tom nemal komu povedať. Nemal sa kto so mnou tešiť... niekedy pre to svoju prácu fakt nenávidím.

Bola to sobota, krátko po obede... a ja som mal naplánovanú robotu na každú minútu toho víkendu... ale Garth Nix je Garth Nix. A tak som sa na všetko vysral, naplnil kocúrovi misku po okraj nech neotravuje, stiahol si Clariel do kindla a pustil sa do knihy, na ktorú všetci fanúšikovia Sabriel čakajú od roku 2009.

Na druhý deň, v nedeľu asi o šiestej večer som poslednýkrát klikol na tlačidlo ďalšia strana a kindle ukázal 100%. Unfreakinbelievable!!! Bolo jedno z mála slov, ktoré sa mi zjavili v hlave.

Garth Nix je pre mňa ten spisovateľ, ktorý môže napísať aj návod na výrobu toaletného papiera a ja mu ho zhltnem aj s navijakom. Sabriel ma kedysi dávno oslovila v kníhkupectve a odvtedy idem pekne a postupne zaradom celou jeho tvorbou, lebo mi vyhovuje po všetkých stránkach.

Clariel je úple úžasná a nepredstavi-neuveriteľná! Všetci vieme, že sa má odohrávať 600 rokov pred udalosťami v Sabriel, a všetci čakáme nejaký stredoveký, pardon praveký predpotopný svet v Starom kráľovstve. No nie!!! Garthovi Nixovi to v hlave klepe úplne naopak! Staré kráľovstvo je totiž na vrchole síl, je to pekná prosperujúca krajina. Áno, všade vládne mágia, ale inak mi to pripadalo ako nejaké 50-60 roky tu v našom svete. A úplne vážne -- toto je jeho najviac YA kniha! Hrdinovia sú ako vystrihnutí z ostatných YA kníh, akože fakt a naozaj. Hlúpe pubišské decká, ktoré musia byť v každej pravej tínedžerine.

Neviem, kam chodí ten chlap pre nápady a inšpiráciu, ale toto bolo úplne úžasné a dokonalé!

A ešte niečo, čo mi potvrdil aj kamarát, čo si knihu potom prečítal – síce čítal pôvodnú trilógiu dávno pradávno, Garth Nix ho vtiahol do deja okamžite! V zlomku sekundy vedel, čo je, kde je, s k��m je a ako je. Stačila prvá veta a my sme hltali každé jeho slovo, všetky spomienky na predchádzajúce knihy sa zaraz vrátili a nám neostávalo iné, len čítať ďalej. Garth to proste vie.

Odporúčam, odporúčam, odporúčam!
To čakanie stálo fakt za to. Teraz, keď nad tým tak s odstupom premýšľam, na Lirael tento diel asi nemá, to je môj all-time-favourite, ale určite sa vyšvihol na druhé miesto.
Ďakujem, Garth Nix!

P.S.: Neodpustím američanom, že dali na obálku draka!!! Neodpustím! Pre mňa to bolo úžasné prekvapenie, a seriózne sa mi zastavil mozog, keď som si tú pasáž prečítal, fakt som nečakal, že aj toto môže Garthovi Nixovi pasovať do jeho univerza, no on to dokázal. Teraz sa však obávam, že čitatelia budú len čítať a čítať a čakať, kedy sa tam ten drak konečne zjaví. A nedočkajú sa po nejakých 80%, sorry.
P.P.S.: V tejto knihe nešiel nikto ani raz do Výsady :) Keď som si to na konci uvedomil, neveril som vlastným spomienkam. Úžasné!
P.P.P.S.: Ja len dúfam, že na ďalšiu knihu zo Starého kráľovstva, ktorá má byť o Nicholasovi Sayrovi nebudeme zase čakať 5 rokov! Píš, ujo Nix, píš!
Profile Image for Sara.
1,080 reviews360 followers
August 14, 2022
Yet another recent reread where I'd forgotten half the plot.

I always love returning to the world of the Old Kingdom, and in this story we follow Clariel, who lives in a time of peace and prosperity, some 600 years before Sabriel is born. It's a world where the Abhorsen has become complacent of their duties, and the King no longer wants to rule, leading to whispers of rebellions and uprisings. And at the heart of it all is a young woman who just wants to be free to live the life she's always wanted. A life free of responsibilities and people who want to keep her contained. But Clariel is drawn to the power of Free Magic, and the machinations of a certain green eyed cat may lead to her ultimate downfall.

Knowing where Clariel ends up, it was interesting to see her at the start of her journey. This is a villain origin story of sorts, except Clariel is so much more than just a future antagonist. She feels deeply resentful of the life she's forced to lead, bending to everyone else's desires and abandoning her own. She's very much a loner who essentially just wants to be left alone but her familial connections to the Charter and bloodlines won't let her do this. She's forced to make some very difficult decisions in the name of revenge, under the care of individuals who don't necessarily have her best interests at heart, and I don't think you can entirely blame her for what happens. She tries her best.

If anything I would have liked to have seen more of Clariel as Chlorr and how she descends into this persona. Instead we just get little hints at the inevitable - however with hindsight (and the book Goldenhand, a lot of this backstory is eventually given to us.

I love the Old Kingdom, from its unique magic system to ever increasing lore and world building. Although not my favourite of the series, this was a fun ride nonetheless.
Profile Image for Grace.
434 reviews15 followers
July 25, 2014
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

Disclaimer: This is a ridiculously early review.

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. I read and re-read Sabriel and Lirael until the paperbacks very clearly showed how much they’d been loved, and jumped for joy when Abhorsen was finally released. Nix’s stories had everything to love–undead villains, strong protagonists, sarcastic kitties, bardic weapons, and enchanted paper airplanes that you can really ride in.

Now, almost a decade later, Garth Nix is finally releasing Clariel, a prequel novel set several hundred years in the past. Clariel‘s release date is set for October, and clearly I’m writing a ridiculously early review. I’VE BEEN WAITING TEN YEARS FOR THIS BOOK AND COULDN’T WAIT ANY LONGER!

This review is going to be vague, brief, and spoiler-free, because I don’t want to give away too much before the book comes out. At the same time, there’s a lot of food for thought, and I’d really like to discuss it in more depth.

Clariel starts out in a very young-adulty kind of way. Yes, the whole series is YA, but Clariel is more what I think of when I think of YA. Clariel’s mother is a goldsmith, and when she’s offered a promotion through her guild, she uproots the whole family from their home in the country and drags them to the capital city. Being a high-ranking member of society means that Clariel is expected to marry or become a goldsmith herself, but she’s having none of it. All she wants to do is go back to the forest, which is the one place where she truly feels free. But of course, life doesn’t work that way, and people don’t always get what they want. The kingdom is crumbling because the king refuses to lead, the Abhorsen stops banishing the dead, and a free magic creature hiding in the city could be the one thing that makes the fragile peace fall apart.

My one criticism of the book is that there’s a lot of buildup to the action that occurs at the end of the book, and for a while, I wondered if anything was going to happen.

For the first few chapters, I felt a bit suspicious. I wasn’t sure that Clariel could live up to the previous books, or even that Clariel herself could compare to the later characters that I know and love. I was wrong. Clariel grew on me, because she’s the sort of protagonist who can both make mistakes and be heroic without being thrown into the false dichotomy of good versus evil. She’s a free spirit who’s been confined by societal expectations, and she rebels against it. Clariel makes questionable decisions, but in doing so becomes an independent force that I can’t help but like, even while knowing that the path she chooses isn’t what one would consider the “right” one.

Oh, and did I mention that Clariel is probably asexual? You don’t see nearly enough of that in literature, period. There’s got to be a romance, and opting out never seems to be an option. It’s unusual to see a character who knows and recognizes that she isn’t interested in love or sex. She’s a loner, and she knows it. It’s awesome.

Well done, Garth Nix. Clariel does not disappoint.
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews243 followers
February 18, 2015
2.5 stars

Arc provided by Harper Collins through Edelweiss

It was my intention to re-read the previous books of this "Old Kingdom" series, before picking this one up.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to find the necessary time to do it, and I only got to read about half of the first book, Sabriel, before starting with this one.

And although I do still like Sabriel, I am afraid that time seems to have diluted my love for this series. :/
The writing never seemed to "flow"...

I read Sabriel for the first time ever, almost twelve years ago, and I loved it!
But many reads have come and gone since then, and I am afraid that my memory was being kinder compared to the actual reality of what I read.

This is not to say that I don't like it anymore.
I do!

I like the world the author created, and this story helped make things a little clearer about the relationship between Abhorsen's , Free Magic elements and Mogget.

But although I may like the world in which the stories take place, this one ended up being extremely hard to read! In fact the only reason I finished it, was out of love for the series.

That, and because Mogget appears in all his sarcastic, interesting, glory!

This is not to say that this is a bad book...it definitely isn't!

The problem is that I ended up having to force myself to finish it.

The beginning was awfully slow, and the main character has you "headdesking" and "face-palming".. constantly!

Clariel is boring, uninteresting, basically a disaster waiting to happen, and she spends the majority of the story constantly saying how much she wants to go and live by herself in the Great Forest!
I am not exaggerating, she's constantly whining about it.

Look at the book cover: Do you see what is written there?

A passion thwarted will often go astray

Her passion is to live alone in the Great Forest...so when life leads her to another path, she manages to f**** up in a colossal scale! (sorry, but I can't remember another word to describe the level of idiot moves she makes!)

In fact she could be nominated for the "most stupid character ever created" in the 2014 book awards.

So, it doesn't come as a surprise what her future turns out to be, does it?
Do I care than she turns out to be the big bad villain, in the previously published books?

Does it surprise me?

A thing that I can't help mention, is that the author takes great pains in developing an asexual character.

We are told that Clariel has had sexual relations in the past, but that in the end she didn't found herself particularly interested in the thing, lol, and that she also isn't interested in women....
*deep breath*
Who cares?

I am just reading this for the plot, and although these stories have what you can consider ya characters, I never found these stories ya per se...so comments like these just end up being superfluous to the story.

We all know that it is possible to read an interesting book without said book having to had a romance in it!

I don't know, this made me remember a comment that Sabriel makes in her own book, when she says that she's not interested in Touchstone in that way, and that sex is a complication and blah, blah...and I was like:

But why would the author feel the need to say this?

I hadn't felt anything going on between them in the first place! She only kissed him because the guy was made out of wood _literally _ and she was trying to break the spell!!

Ah....long story....and back to Clariel...

Garth Nix should really skip these "out of the blue" romances: In this one there's a character that all of a sudden finds himself ...I don't know...attracted, in love..in lust for Clariel?

Which ended up being pretty much pathetic, because once again it comes out from nowhere, and I just couldn't help feeling that it only existed, so that Clariel could be all: Dude, I don't care about that sort of thing! I JUST WANT TO GO INTO THE GREAT FOREST ALL BY MYSELF!!
Fine girl, GO!! ~ I can't hear you anymore~

To finish this up, I also have to mention another aspect that I really found annoying:

Clariel is just unbelievably clueless about everything!

Of course this just creates the perfect setting for all the disasters that she is about to commit!

Like I said: One perfect disaster just waiting to happen...

Bottom Line: Ignorance is not a blessing, and ends up being very annoying to read about!


Oh, and did you know that there is going to be another Abhorsen book, this one following Nicholas and Lirael story?

Profile Image for Sara the Librarian.
748 reviews326 followers
May 11, 2016
Obviously its not fair to review this since I didn't finish it but I just can't take it anymore. Garth Nix's "Abhorsen" books are just wonderful. I believe I waxed rhapsodic about Tim Curry's outstanding narration of the first three books in this series that chronicle two kingdoms; the Old Kingdom where the Charter (basically a magic that connects everything in the kingdom) rules and necromancer's, free magic users, and the dead are kept in check by the Abhorsen (basically a wizard who can walk in death using a special set of magical bells) and Ancelstierre where magic cannot be used that's more or less a sort of industrial age America with regular governments and armies etc.

Nix is just an amazing world builder, his stories are deceptively simple in their construction (magic vs. 'the real world) and he might be covering old ground with his plots but the mythology and magic are absolutely first rate and wonderfully detailed. He writes strong, multi layered female leads and does it brilliantly. There's plenty of action but its balanced by deep relationships between the characters and believably organic love stories.

Clariel is intended as something of an origin story for one of the peripheral characters from Lirael and Abhorsen the last two books in the original trilogy. Though I normally classify origin stories somewhere between root canals and having to hang out with my husband's friend J.P. (who is the absolute WORST let me tell you) for Garth Nix I'm willing to give it a shot. Besides the character in question is a pretty cool one and I found myself actually getting into the idea of finding out how she got where she is when we meet her in the original trilogy.

Sadly Clariel, while still showcasing the wonderful descriptions and mythos of the earlier books is deadly, deadly dull.

She's just not interesting guys. Like at all.

Her story begins 600 years before the events in Sabriel when the Old Kingdom has been at peace for so long no one even really remembers what an Abhorsen does (including the Abhorsen) and the king has all but abdicated in favor of the various merchant guilds who are the real rulers.

Clariel has been forced by her parents to move to the capital city of Belisaire where her mother, the greatest goldsmith of her generation, has been asked to join the Goldsmith's Guild. Clariel is utterly miserable. A loner by nature she longs to spend her life in the forest's of her homeland as a border guard but her parent's are determined to use her as a pawn for their own plans.

If I never hear the words "forest" or "I want to be left alone" again it will be too soon. This is literally all Clariel thinks or talks about (for the sizable portion of the book I listened to). Every single thing she does or says is some variation on "I miss the forest", "I wish I were in the forest", and "how can I get back to the forest?"

You don't even get to any actual story until you're ten chapters in and by that point I was too bored to care.

So I have no idea if Clariel makes it back to her forest or if anyone started caring about Abhorsens' again (thought it obviously happened eventually hence the first three books) and alas I do not care in the slightest to find out.

Profile Image for Ashley.
2,658 reviews1,692 followers
December 31, 2014
This is a prequel, and prequels can be dicey, so let me just start by saying: this could have been much, much, much worse.

Clariel is the story–not of how young Clariel becomes Chlorr of the Mask from the original series like I was expecting it to be–but of how the foundations for that eventual change are laid. Seventeen year old Clariel moves with her family to the city of Belisaere. Clariel’s a girl of the forest, so right away this makes her unhappy, but the city and the people she encounters are extra bizarre. For me, also. The Old Kingdom we first see in the original trilogy is one full of magic and dead things coming back to life. Sorcerers, Abhorsens and other magic users are respected and necessary. But the world Clariel encounters is messed up. Magic users are looked down upon. The Abhorsen and his family don’t take their (very important) work seriously. And something dead is wandering around the city, causing trouble.

All Clariel wants is to move back to the forest, but the city and her teachers and her parents and her cousin the Abhorsen-in-waiting all want her to do other things. To learn magic. To read the book of the dead. To resist the temptation she begins to feel after coming into contact with a free magic being at the beginning of the novel.

This one is tough, because Garth Nix is one of my favorite writers, and there’s not actually anything *wrong* with what he’s written in this book. It was fun to see the Old Kingdom 600 years before the original trilogy, even with it as effed up as it was. I also really liked Clariel and empathized with her, to the point where it was painful to read about her descent into free magic sorcery. But. I also feel like all the really interesting stuff just started happening as the book ended, so ultimately I just finished the book feeling really unbalanced by the story.

[3.5 stars]
Profile Image for Melanie Schneider.
Author 20 books79 followers
July 3, 2018
Well, Garth Nix convinced me again!

Es gibt manche Parts, die ich mir gern ausführlicher gewünscht hätte, der erste Hälfte des Buches war viel Aufbau für die Geschichte, da hätte ich mir mehr für den Rest gewünscht. Aber ich bin begeistert über die Entwicklungen und habe früh geahnt, was es mit Clariel auf sich hat. Ich hoffe, es wird irgendwann ein Buch über die Jahre dazwischen geben!
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews286 followers
December 23, 2014

I didn't hate this book, but considering that the original trilogy is still one of my Top 10 of all time, and how long we've been waiting for this prequel... I am all hella kinda of disappointed.

I feel like the biggest issue with this book is that Clariel is just so one dimensional. Well, that and the fact that kinda everyone sucks except Belatiel and Kargrin. (I kinda think the book might been better if it were written about Belatiel and Clariel stayed a secondary character, but we learned about her through his interactions with her. It's like, we still could've gotten Clariel's story, but we could've gotten more, too.)

But Clariel wants to be a Borderer in the Forest, and that's her one ambition. Her parents move her to the city for her mother's ambition, there's politics and society and the usual fish-out-of-water type stuff, and the thing is I could sympathize with Clariel in a way, because her mom was a selfish bitch and her dad was a coward and I hate the whole, "you don't know what you want, we know what's best for you shit", except Clariel comes across as whiny instead of put-upon and every other freaking page it's "I want to go back to the Forest".

And this is disappointing because one of the pluses, to me, of Sabriel and Lirael is that they were fleshed out characters. They had their issues and feelings of being put upon and even, dare I say, a bit of whininess, but they were so much better drawn and realized as characters.

Clariel never gets past this one defining trait, and it makes her rather annoying and short-sighted.

Of course, she's not the only character which suffers. Every character is pretty thinly drawn in this one, but you at least expect it a little from the secondary characters. As I said earlier, I would've liked to see more of Belatiel and the one girl who likes him (Demi-something) and Kargrin, but they're pretty sketched as characters, too.

But, anyway, things did start to pick up once the plot kicked in and it wasn't just Clariel 'wanting to go back to the Forest' constantly, but even then, after Clariel's , she wants to leave everything up to everyone else, and the moment where I really lost any care for her was when she was going to

Even when she finally gets motivated to do stuff, it comes across as more a petulant pique because other people aren't doing what she wants them to do as opposed to any proactive element on her part.

And, speaking of, can we just say how much of a flaming hypocrite Clariel is? And she's not necessarily wrong about the first two points, but it's the last which kills it.

Anyway -

It was sort of interesting to see Belisaere before it becomes a ghost town, and to see the state of the Old Kingdom in this time period. I kind of got a Rome before the Fall vibe from it - though I think this could've been explored more. I would've liked to see a bit more of the society. I mean, it's an interesting world in which magic is seen as a servant thing. Usually magic either makes people elite, or its persecuted, but it's not common for it just to be seen as too much work. (Of course, I didn't entirely grok that, either, because the aristocracy wasn't lazy and idle - they were actually the merchants and higher level workers, so I didn't really understand the mindset in the world Nix was creating.)

So there are some interesting parts to the story, and it wasn't a complete loss...

But so many people acted so stupidy, and Clariel was so annoyingly one-note, that I couldn't really get invested in the story fully, and I actually sort of wished, at the end, that they just .


So -

Luckily this hasn't had the effect of poisoning the rest of the series for me. I still adore the trilogy, and, if anything, this has made me want to reread it.

But I think I'll pretend that this book doesn't exist or, if it does, I'll just think about how Belatiel is a cool character, and how it's a pity we didn't see more of him.
Profile Image for Roslyn.
346 reviews17 followers
February 20, 2015

It's difficult for me to rate this novel. For a start, it didn’t engage me until nearly half-way through. This is partly because this is a prequel to the other Abhorsen novels and the world we are thrust into is not what it will later become. It's also because its protagonist, Clariel, is at first a difficult character to like and engage with. Until that half-way point, the novel felt static and I could have put it down at any point. (In fact, I accidentally left it on my work desk before a week-long period when I wasn’t going to be at work, and I didn’t miss it at all). However, I’m glad I persisted. Clariel gradually came to life as a conflicted, understandable character I sympathised with and ached for.

It’s hard to say anything meaningful about Clariel, either the character or the novel, without spoilers. Very mild spoilers below, but I think if you’re intending to read this, it might be best to avoid any information about it at all.

Profile Image for Janni.
Author 43 books447 followers
Want to read
October 15, 2014
I just found out about this and am giddily happy! More in Sabriel's world--yay yay yay yay!

Even if I do have to wait until 2010 ...

ETA: it's 2014 and this is finally -out!- Internets, why did you not tell me sooner?
Profile Image for Maria.
113 reviews10 followers
June 30, 2014
Maybe I was in a bad mood. Maybe I read it too fast. Maybe I don't remember the Abhorsen trilogy well enough. Maybe, being no longer teenaged, I no longer resonate the same way with teenaged protagonists. Maybe time and nostalgia have rendered those books flawless in my heart, and nothing could stack up. Maybe it breaks my heart, but my feelings are hovering between "liked it" and "it was ok," certainly not "loved it."

As I mentioned, I couldn't resonate with Clariel in the same way that I did with Lirael, or to a lesser extent Sabriel. She seemed to have one dimension, namely, "but I don't WANT TO" She's a "strong female character," but as far as I can tell, only in that she has a strong aversion to anything feminine.

I found myself much more interested in the secondary, even tertiary characters. All far more compelling than Clariel herself.

Maybe this is because of the aforementioned mood, but I also had trouble visualizing a few locations in the book, like Nix's descriptions were rich, but ineffective. Just how big is Kargren's tower, anyway? And the Islet?

That said, it was still an exciting story, and I couldn't put it down. Anyway, because this is an Old Kingdom novel, and the world is still that strange, beautiful combination of order and chaos, and because this is only a galley, after all, I am not willing to write it off yet.

In time, I will re-read the trilogy, followed by this. With that context, I may find a new appreciation for Clariel. Or maybe not.

In the end, I guess while it doesn't hold a candle to the other stories, it's still worth a read.
Profile Image for Yzabel Ginsberg.
Author 3 books102 followers
December 10, 2014
Not what I expected. The Old Kingdom looked like it was fraying, but I thought this wanted for more details about why everyone was shirking their duties, hiding their Charter marks, etc. What about the lost princess? Did everyone just run away because reasons/pressure/not wanting to bother?

Clariel wasn't a character I could push myself to care for (too whiny, too much "I want to go back to the Forest" too often...). The first half of the book was kind of boring, and then when things started to pick up, Clariel still seemed like she wanted revenge for something that she didn't feel that strongly about (still going on about "when this is over, I can finally go to the Forest", yadda-yadda). Also, the vague romance bit was, IMHO, plucked out of nowhere. It didn't bring anything to the story, and there wasn't even any particular reason for it to happen.

The ending left me feel wanting for more, considering who Clariel was fated to become. It would have been more interesting for me if it had ended on a clearer note in the latter regard. It could've been so much more...

1.5 stars, rounded to 2 because no matter what, I still like the Old Kingdom world.
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