Fantasy may not need dragons to be considered fantasy, but it does need a bit magic. Contrary to popular belief, the presence of magic does not necessarily come into use to make things easier for the protagonist in a novel. Magic is simply a built-in set of complications that contradict and foreseeable reality. Sabriel, by Garth Nix, is a spectacular indoctrination into the world and rules of fantasy and magic.
Australian author Garth Nix, authoring 34 books, fashioned the magic governing fictitious Old Kingdom with attention to language and music; arts both set in stone and yet open to innovation. A specialist (known in Sabriel as a Charter Mage) is someone with a book-learning of magic, and is able to think on their feet. There are no wands, fireworks, or prank magicians in Sabriel, just clever and creative magic used in devious or constructive ways. Magic is a dangerous tool in this novel, able to wipe a character’s memory or make them remember anything. To know magic is to know the language of creation in the Old Kingdom.
Beyond the cleverness of the Nix’s design, there's a deep sensation of nostalgia filled in the pages. The Old Kingdom has fallen into disorder, and the reader can't help but feel urged to put it right.
The first chapter starts with a kindly necromancer, Abhorsen, bringing an infant, who evolves into the protagonist later in the book, back from death. This scene introduces the main character, Sabriel, and her past life. From page one, Sabriel has already traveled astonishing distances and lived to express it. Garth Nix communicates clearly that Sabriel isn't going to waste any period of time tiptoeing around the subject of death, but will address it boldly and with focused and determined mind.
The plot of this novel is equally ominous, in order to find and rescue Abhorsen from the icy realm of death;...