Author: Garth Nix
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
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.Review by Nara
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.
Despite only having read Sabriel out of the original Abhorsen trilogy, and not really remembering anything from it anyway, having read it so long ago, I really enjoyed Clariel. Filled with compelling action and fantastically well developed characters, it's definitely the sort of high fantasy that I was looking for.
I have to admit, the pace was very slow at the start, with almost nothing of note happening until about halfway through the book. That initial poor pacing is probably what brought the book down a star for me, as pretty much everything else was fabulous.
I think perhaps the other thing I would have liked to have seen would be more exploration of the magic system and world building. I'm sure that would have been dealt with in Nix's other books, but I feel that I still would have preferred it had he showcased a bit more of the magic in this book for those who are new to the series.
Clariel was a very interesting character, in fact, one of the most interesting I've encountered in recent times, and she's apparently featured in the book Lirael (according to the author's note) so perhaps reading that would have given me a better idea of what sort of person she is. I feel like she was quite flawed, being both headstrong and easily influenced by others at different points in the book. She seemed to jump into things without considering the facts, leading to quite the series of shenanigans.
Even if you haven't read the other books in the series, I'd definitely recommend this book. Push through the initial slow pace, and you have an amazingly written, action packed and exciting high fantasy novel.
Really liked it
World Building: 3/5