Tag Archives: garth nix

WWW WEDNESDAY — SEPTEMBER 22

Good morning, darlings! It’s Wednesday. Somehow. Time is flying by, isn’t it? Unfortunately, my husband woke up feeling yucky, but everyone else is doing great in our household. Hopefully, it stays that way! I hope you’re all doing great!

This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. It’s super simple — all you do is answer the following questions.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m about 40% of the way through A Strange and Stubborn Endurance, and I’m really liking it despite not being able to keep track of who’s who in some scenes. It reminds me a lot of A Taste of Gold and Iron, in the m/m way, and the political mess way. I finished up Sabriel this weekend, despite being the one hosting the Sabriel Read-a-Long. Whoops. My review posted two days ago, if you’re at all interested in hearing me sing the praises of that book some more. Next, I think I’ll pick up Empire of Exiles, as it’s an ARC and I should really start reading some ARCs as they’ve started to pile up.

What are you currently reading?

BOOK REVIEW: SABRIEL BY GARTH NIX

The book cover for Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • STAR RATING:  Five stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 491 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: September 30th 1996
  • PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
    WHAT SERIES? The Old Kingdom Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Sabriel
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 6
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Death, death of parent, gore, body horror
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

SYNOPSIS

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

How do I review a book that I’ve read so many times I’ve actually lost count? For starters — this is a warning that I probably won’t be as objective or unbiased as I could be, because at this point it’s pretty hard for me to be either of those things. The Old Kingdom is one of my absolute favorite series. I first picked up Sabriel in seventh grade. I was a wee pre-teen, and I just fell in love with this story. And I have to say — it’s held up pretty well for being close to thirty years old!

At it’s heart, Sabriel is about a young girl thrust into an awful situation, and how she grows and learns from her experiences. A coming-of-age story, to a T. What I’ve always loved is that Sabriel doesn’t really have YA main-character syndrome. She’s not really described as being better than other girls. She’s not described as beautiful when we first meet her. She’s just a teenager, a young woman about to graduate from her school. She’s shown to be competent, but not overly so, and there are more than a few times where she makes mistakes and owns up to them. Sabriel is an excellent role model for young girls.

I love the world, too, though we don’t get a huge sense of how big it is in this particular book. It gets explored much more in the subsequent sequels, so I won’t mention much of it here, other than to say that Nix does an excellent job of making the world feel old. We see the history in bits and pieces, the way the cities and towns are described, and how the people are living in them.

I’m also incredibly partial to the other characters in Sabriel, though my absolute favorite doesn’t appear until Lirael. Mogget is a pretty close runner-up, though. Talking animal companions are some of my favorites, always, and he is so mysterious and funny that you can’t help but love him. And then when you do find out what he is, oooh. It’s such a good reveal, though you don’t really understand the gravity of it until later books, again. Touchstone is another fascinating character — a berserker with royal blood. He and Sabriel fall in love very quickly, but they do spend the majority of their time together saving each other’s lives over and over.

The villain of this book, Kerrigor, is properly terrifying, with some serious oomph behind his threats. Who and what he is just sends shivers down my spine every time I read this book. And the way they defeat him? GOD, IT’S SO GOOD.

See how it’s hard for me to be unbiased? Anyway — I want to thank those of you that participated in my Sabriel Read-a-Long. It was so, so cool to see so many of you pick up this book for the first time. I loved reading your posts, and I’m so happy that so many of you seemed to really enjoy it! I hope you’ll read along onto the next two books, and that you’ll let me know what you think!

Add to your Goodreads, or order at at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

MONDAY MORNING – SEPTEMBER 19

We’re back to no sleep at the Birdie’s Book Nook house. Will is working on his bottom set of molars, plus two more teeth. I think I got maybe 5 hours of sleep last night, maybe. He woke up right when his Motrin wore off, and then couldn’t settle until it had really kicked in. I don’t blame him at all — his mouth has to be so sore with so many new teeth coming in! The rest of the weekend was just…miserable. No sleep, fussy, cranky toddler. I’m tired. My husband is tired. Will is tired. It’s a lot, y’all. I hope your Monday is going better than mine!

FOR this week’s peek at my never-ending TBR, I’ve chosen a book that I really need to get to! I actually own it, I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet! I’m sure many of you are surprised, considering how much I adore The Old Kingdom series!

TERCIEL & ELINOR BY GARTH NIX

Garth Nix returns to the Old Kingdom for the never-before-told love story of Sabriel’s parents, Terciel and Elinor, and the charter magic that brought them together—and threatened to tear them apart. A long-awaited prequel to a classic fantasy series.

In the Old Kingdom, a land of ancient and often terrible magics, eighteen year-old orphan Terciel learns the art of necromancy from his great-aunt Tizanael. But not to raise the Dead, rather to lay them to rest. He is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, and Tizanael is the Abhorsen, the latest in a long line of people whose task it is to make sure the Dead do not return to Life.

Across the Wall in Ancelstierre, a steam-age country where magic usually does not work, nineteen year-old Elinor lives a secluded life. Her only friends an old governess and an even older groom who was once a famous circus performer. Her mother is a tyrant, who is feared by all despite her sickness and impending death . . . but perhaps there is even more to fear from that.

Elinor does not know she is deeply connected to the Old Kingdom, nor that magic can sometimes come across the Wall, until a plot by an ancient enemy of the Abhorsens brings Terciel and Tizanael to Ancelstierre. In a single day of fire and death and loss, Elinor finds herself set on a path which will take her into the Old Kingdom, into Terciel’s life, and will embroil her in the struggle of the Abhorsens against the Dead who will not stay dead.

Anyway, my darlings, here’s hoping you and yours have a great week!

TOP TEN TUESDAY – BOOKS OVER 10 YEARS OLD

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic this week is BOOKS I LOVE THAT WERE WRITTEN OVER 10 YEARS AGO. Pretty sure this one will be easy, but let’s see as I go through my FAVORITES folder on Goodreads.

I had no idea how old some of these were. The oldest of the bunch is Outlander, which was originally published in 1990. The newest is The Raven Boys, which was published in 2012. That one just squeaks into the prompt, so that’s going for me! What’s the oldest book that made your list this week?

OLD KINGDOM READ-A-LONG

I know everyone and their brother has about a million things to on their TBR these days, but I thought I would see if there was interest in doing an Old Kingdom Read-A-Long. (I plan on doing at least Sabriel, but if there is further interest, I’d be willing to continue on through Abhorsen!) I’ve never hosted (or done) a read-a-long before, but I plan on treating it somewhat like a book club? I thought we could read through certain chapters by certain days, and then discuss/answer questions I’ll research/come up with on Fridays. (This might be exactly what a read-a-long is, and if that’s the case, woo!) Anyway, on to the possible schedule.

If you’re interested, please comment below and let me know. I thought we could aim to do this in September, with the schedule for Sabriel as follows:

  • Chapters 1 – 10: September 2
  • Chapters 11 – 21: September 9
  • Chapters 22 – 29: September 16

Sabriel is 491 pages long, but the chapters are quite short. Please speak up if you think this is an unreasonable amount of book to read in a week!

So what’s the book about? Check out the synopsis below:

SABRIEL BY GARTH NIX

The book cover for Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether. 

NEED A COPY? CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKSHOP.ORG | THRIFTBOOKS

Of course, any of you that have read the book previously, but don’t want to reread, are still welcome to join in on the discussions!

TOP TEN TUESDAY – BOOKS WITH GREAT ENDINGS

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is a freebie, and my brain is dead, so Pages Unbound helped me on Twitter. My topic this week is BOOKS WITH GREAT ENDINGS. I won’t spoil anything in my post — and PLEASE DO NOT in the comments, either. Vague statements are fine. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of these books!

Special shoutout to my favorite endings of this group – Mistborn era 1 (THAT SANDERLANCHE, people, THE SANDERLANCHE.), House of Sky and Breath, and Abhorsen. WHAT ENDINGS THESE BOOKS HAVE. How much is it killing me not to be to discuss them. Omg.

TOP TEN TUESDAY – COMFORT READS

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is COMFORT READS.

There are certain books I turn to when the world seems bleak, and when everything seems absolutely awful. These books either remind me that everything will turn out alright, or they distract me and let me escape from the grim news of the day. That’s not to say these books don’t have sad storylines, or have reminders that all is not well. It’s more these books are like climbing into your own bed at night — familiar and comfortable. I’ve read all of these books more than once, and well, I’ll keep coming back for more.

Do we share any of the same comfort books?

TOP TEN TUESDAY – BOOKS I HAVEN’T GOTTEN TO YET

Hey everybody! I’m home today with my little man as his usual caretakers are all sick! Means I get to skip out on work and hang out with my buddy today! So that means that I probably won’t be blog hopping today — I’ll be too busy making sure my kiddo doesn’t accidentally unalive himself, and that we’re having fun! I hope your Tuesday is going great!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is BOOKS I WAS SO EXCITED TO GET, BUT STILL HAVEN’T READ YET. Whoops. You know I got some for this topic…I went straight to my Kindle Library and scrolled, while taking notes. These are SOME of the books that I’ve bought in excitement, and uh…haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

I’m not going to lie to you, I straight up forgot I had bought some of these. (Looking at you, The Midnight Bargin.) Whoops. Do you see any books I absolutely have to get to soon? Let me know.

TOP TEN TUESDAY — BOOKISH CHARACTERS

Hello my lovelies! I sure hope this Tuesday is treating you kindly so far, because today is my birthday! I’m not expecting much of anything for today — my last couple of birthdays have sucked majorly. Last year, I was 5 days out from a c-section, and hauling my newborn to his first ever doctor appointment. I was in so much pain. The year before that, well, it was mid-pandemic and I was terrified of catching a respiratory disease when I’m asthmatic. HERE’S HOPING THIS YEAR IS A MILLION TIMES BETTER, YEAH?

ANYWAYYYYYYYYYYYY…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is BOOKISH CHARACTERS. I love a good bookish character — I see myself in them a lot. I also am a huge sucker for books ABOUT books.

  • DIANA, from the All Souls Trilogy — Diana is a professor, and spends an enormous amount of time in this book with her nose deep in research.
  • ZACHARY, from The Starless Sea — Zachary wants nothing more than to be a reading major
  • EDWIN, from A Marvellous Light — Edwin researches and researches, and taught himself a great many things from his books
  • LIRAEL, from Lirael — Lirael’s heart’s desire was to work in the Great Library of the Clayr. She gets her wish!
  • JACKABY, from Jackaby — Jackaby is a sort of magical/supernatural Sherlock, and as such, is constantly looking things up. His library is home to several different types of creatures, too.
  • ELIZABETH, from Sorcery of Thorns — Elizabeth is a foundling at a great magical library, and the books end up protecting her when she is in great danger.
  • JESS, from Ink and Bone — Jess is from a society where books are illegal, and ends up working at a library to save them.
  • JANUARY, from The Ten Thousand Doors of January — January finds a book that reveals her power of stepping into other worlds.
  • KIRSTEN, from Station Eleven — Kirsten spends most of her time trying to find copies of / other issues of her favorite graphic novel. I’d be doing the same if I was safe enough, and in a post-apocalyptic USA.
  • CHARLEY, from The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep — Charley can read characters out of books and straight into real life!

Who did you come up with this week? Share your links below and I’ll check them out!

TOP 5 FANTASY BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS

Since fantasy is my absolute favorite genre out there, I thought I would write a recommendation post for people who want to dive into the genre, but have no idea where to start. Before we really get into the meat of the post, I do want to say this: fantasy is known for having series, and not really singular standalone books. This makes fantasy intimidating to a lot of people because you have to commit to reading a 3+ book long series in order to get a complete story. I’m here to tell you that no, you really don’t. If you read the first book in a series, and aren’t feeling it? Stop. Stop reading it. Move on. Life is too short to keep reading books you don’t like, especially when those books are in a series.

So, with that being said, this list is primarily books that I believe are relatively easy to get into, relatively easy to read, and complete series. Meaning — you don’t need to read anything but the book itself to understand it, the language used isn’t overly ridiculous, and all the books are out. Oh as a side note — most of these books are written for adults, but there might be one or two that wiggle on the YA/Adult border.

Now that I’ve rambled on for forever, let’s get into the recommendations.

THE MISTBORN TRILOGY by BRANDON SANDERSON

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the cover for a compilation of The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Then Kelsier reveals his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets. She will have to learn trust if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

WHY THIS SERIES? The Mistborn Series (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages) is a complete story done in three books. The ending of the story is 100% satisfying, with almost all questions answered. Brandon Sanderson is a master at world-building, and at creating extensive, amazingly-unique magic systems. If you want an entry point into modern fantasy — here is the best place to start.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The Final Empire
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: abuse by a sibling, death, gore, murder, rape (mentioned), slavery, violence
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, or The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

THE OLD KINGDOM SERIES by GARTH NIX

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories.

As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

WHY THIS SERIES? I grew up with this series, so I’m a little biased when I include this one in this list. Despite that, I still think it’s a great example of what fantasy can be, and it’s incredibly easy to read. There are talking animals, beings of enormous power, and just enough world-building to keep you curious. Nothing is shoved down your throat, but nothing is hand-waved away, either. A note – there are actually six books in this series, but the first three (Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen) are the ones that I’m talking about in this recommendation. I haven’t actually read the others, because I’m afraid they’ll ruin my enjoyment of the first three.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Sabriel
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: blood, death, death of a parent, gore, murder
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, or The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

THE RIYIRA REVELATIONS by MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

The book cover for Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

WHY THIS SERIES? If you’re looking for a classic fantasy feel with wizards, and swords, but with a modern feel to the language, then you want The Riyira Revelations. This series is straight-up like popcorn. It’s so good! You will fly through these books, and by the end, you’ll want more and more of Hadrian and Royce! Good news is Sullivan wrote some prequel books! These are not necessary to understand what happens in Revelations, though!

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Theft of Swords
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: death, blood, murder, ableism, sexism, sexual assault
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington, or Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ KLUNE

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

WHY THIS BOOK? Good news! This one is a standalone, and it’s relatively short. If you’re looking for a warm hug wrapped in magic, then you want The House in the Cerulean Sea. This sweet book is about finding family, and what you’d do to protect them once you have them. There’s unique children, some even what most people would consider ‘monsters’. This is a great place to start if you’re looking for a lighter entry into fantasy.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? The House in the Cerulean Sea
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 1
  • CW: child abuse, xenophobia, fatphobia, confinement, body shaming
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Princess Bride by William Goldman, or Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by DIANA WYNNE JONES

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

the book cover for Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye. 

WHY THIS BOOK? This is another sweet story that’s very easy to read! There are technically three books in this series, but I have only read this one. It’s a complete story, too, so there is no reason to venture out into the other books unless you really, really want to. This is about Sophie, and her adventures with the great wizard Howl, and the three different worlds he can travel to. And yes, there is a movie, and yes, it’s just as adorable as the book, though there are some changes. I recommend the book! Obviously.

  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Howl’s Moving Castle
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • CW: body horror, confinement, death, murder, death of parent
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Stardust by Neil Gaiman, or Swordheart by T. Kingfisher

Those are my recommendations for an entry point into the fantasy genre. I’ve read every book listed here — I will never recommend a book I haven’t read! I know people won’t agree with every book that I’ve mentioned, but maybe they should write their own recommendation posts, then, huh?

But before we go, I do want to say one last thing — I did not include The Hobbit on this list, because a lot of people find the language hard to get through. Not to mention, there are great swaths of that book that are boring. I wanted to include books that won’t bore someone out of reading more fantasy novels! However, if you’re absolutely looking to start with a classic, I’d start there, with The Hobbit. You’ll notice I also didn’t include extremely long winded series (The Dresden Files, A Song of Ice and Fire, the Iron Druid Series, the Mercy Thompson Series, etc.), because those are intimidating just due to sheer length!

Do you have any other suggestions for a good starting place to try out the fantasy genre? Leave what you’d recommend in the comments below!