Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen
By Garth Nix
Clariel is the daughter of the one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most importantly, to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, there are rumors that her mother is next in line for the throne. However, Clariel wants no part of it—a natural hunter, all she ever thinks about is escaping the city’s confining walls and journeying back to the quiet, green world of the Great Forest.
But many forces conspire against Clariel’s dream. A dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she discovers hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape unwanted marriage, and save the King? (from inside flap)
Why I picked it up: I love Garth Nix’s fantasy fiction, and I’m a huge fan of the original Abhorsen trilogy, so when I heard that Nix had finally written another Old Kingdom book, I had to read it.
Why I finished it: I felt a terrible sense of foreboding as Clariel is pushed further and further away from her only ambition, and thus forced to greater and greater extremes to try to regain some control over her destiny. The book’s tagline is “A passion thwarted will often go astray,” and it is heartbreaking that although Clariel is incredibly intelligent and gifted, she doesn’t have the experience or perspective to avoid disaster, and the adults around her, who do, utterly fail to divert her from her destructive path.
I’d give it:
Four stars. Clariel is informed by the previous Old Kingdom books too much to be able to stand on its own, but Clariel as a character made for a refreshingly unique and passionate heroine I couldn’t help but empathize with. Things could have so easily gone differently for her… but they didn’t, and while it is a terrible tragedy, it is also a logical one. I immediately had to go back to the original books and re-read them again, with a new perspective. Fans of the original Old Kingdom books should enjoy this, and if you haven’t yet read the Abhorsen trilogy, go do it. Right now.
Reviewed by: Francesca (Davis)