Review: Clariel by Garth Nix

October 15, 2014 3 stars, Book Review 13 ★★★

Review: Clariel by Garth NixClariel by Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #4
Published by HarperCollins on October 14, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 383
Length: 11 Hours, 55 Minutes
Source: Publisher

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

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 Kilip. 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.

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.


Taking us back to a time, a time before the story many of us already know and love….and if you don’t already know – well that’s ok too

Clariel returns us to the land of the original Abhorsen trilogy but at least 600 years preceding the events that take place in the first book, Sabriel. The main character this time is a 16 year old Clariel, a cousin to the king and daughter of a renowned goldsmith who is also a daughter to the current Abhorsen. Clariel is very unhappy because she has been forced to leave her home town of Estwael and now live in the capital, Belisaere. Here her parents expect her to forget about her own lifelong dreams and marry.

And then there was, a Crooked Governor, his shiesty rich son, dangerous free magic creatures, frustrating parents, a meddling magician, a doe eyed cousin, and a grumpy old king…phew what a cast right?

The city is currently run by a crooked man, Governor Kilp and his nasty natured son Aronzo. Both have designs upon Clariel. Indeed there seems to be all sorts of political machinations going on in which Clariel is a pawn. But she is determined to have none of it – though as we all know seldom do things work out the way we want them to, especially at the tender age of 16.  She is enrolled in a local academy where she meets her cousin Belatiel and is sent to additional charter magic lessons with Magister Kargrin. Kargrin being another person might might have plans for her.

She may be young but don’t count her out

Clariel however, is not without a sense of resourcefulness. She is stubborn and somewhat bull headed and has a bit of a family curse called the Fury that makes her berserk whenever a big fit of anger strikes her. Throw all of that together and the fact that everyone seeks to trap her in situations not of her liking and sooner or later anyone would snap. She is obsessed with returning to Estwael and her beloved great forest so she can live as from the land away from the hustle and bustle of cities. Readers should know this is definitely a character focused story even with the fair amount of world building and background that you get, Clariel is still the main focal point. Everything other then the prologue is told from Clariel’s point of view. Because of that you get to suffer through all of her aggravation, tempers and slight injustices that likely many a girl of her age and time may have had. There were a few times I wanted to smack her for going on the way she does about her forest and what she wants but then I don’t blame her since no one other then her aunt has ever really taken her and what she wants into consideration. She is a great character and her story a good one.

While there is a fair amount of magic and rich world building the book moves at a decidedly slow pace up until the 75% point perhaps. Not the same pace throughout – just one that only slowly increases as you read through it. If you enjoy delving deep into character development and the political maneuverings of fantasy worlds then you will still enjoy Clariel despite the slower pace. Don’t despair tho, there are still a few action scenes through the book but I admit I had thought I would have more of an adventure from this return to the Old Kingdom. I did enjoy the read and was lucky enough to both read the print version and listen to the audio in tandem. It helped me get through the book in two days and I can’t recommend the narrator Graeme Malcolm. I really hope I run across another novel narrated by him soon.

If you enjoyed the original Abhorsen trilogy, Clariel is definitely not a book you’d want to miss. And even if you haven’t read those books you don’t need to in order to read Clariel.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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13 Responses to “Review: Clariel by Garth Nix”

  1. Nara

    I have to admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sabriel (I did like it, but only gave it three stars), but I think I would like to give this prequel a chance! I’m okay with slow pace as long as things pick up towards the end, and there’s enough action and intrigue to keep me going 🙂
    Nara recently posted…Flailage: Where I Spill All My Blood of Olympus FeelsMy Profile

  2. Kirsty-Marie

    Really, when I first saw this a while ago I had no clue it was part of a series, yeah, I know. Bought the trilogy though the other week so hoping to get to it soon, even if the bind-ups gigantic. And I kind of wish I’d known you don’t actually have to have read them to read this…Nah, I like reading a series proper (even if they’re not a series series) better reading experience, right? If you enjoy delving deep into character development and the political maneuverings of fantasy worlds then you will still enjoy Clariel despite the slower pace. this is exactly why I loved Heir of Fire, so that won’t bother me. 🙂
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: The FallMy Profile