Sabriel was published fourteen years ago now, but in reading it I thought it was even older. You know how the style today is for everything to be bright, and brash, and colourful all all the time? (Must add more sparkles…) Sabriel isn’t. It’s quiet. (This is despite that the dead are walking around, mind you.) But the characters are- controlled. Controlled in the way that my grandparents and other people who’ve lived through the depression and several wars are controlled. “A fuss won’t help anything! We are simply going to get the job done.” *while the world explodes messily*
This is not to say that the characters aren’t realistic. I very much think they are, and I am desperately fond of Touchstone, Sabriel, Mogget, and especially the soldiers and schoolgirls. 😀 It’s just- people who can face and live through the kind of things that the characters did and do are not your normal flighty teenagers, right? Right. (OMG Love the soldiers SEW MUCH. And they’re almost matched by the school girls mobilizing for battle. LURVE.) 😀 Okay, let’s get on with the book.
*Ranting deleted* I, uh, was going to tell you about the world. And then I started describing the details, and I realized how delightful it was to discover said details for myself when I was reading the book. (Spoiler: Magic works on one side of The Wall but not on the other, but there’s leakage on the border. So the soldiers on guard duty are in, like, 1940 gear, only with swords and shields and medieval weapons. The Government officially doesn’t believe in magic, so they keep sending out machine guns which refuse to work.) So I will INSTEAD tell you about the plot. Ahem.
Sabriel has lived most of her life in an all-girl’s school a country away from her father. He sent her away for the best schooling and to keep her safe, but they still talk by magical means and she looks forward to his visits- both magically and in person every summer. But just as she is about to graduate, she gets a peculiar message from him- by VERY unorthodox means. He’s sent her his weapons with which he kills the dead. (And no I don’t mean “kills people dead” I mean “kills dead people.” As in “Dead people with notions,” “Uppity corpses” and “evil creatures that are too stubborn to leave when you cut out their vitals.”) These are weapons which she’s never seen him without, and which mean that he’s probably dead.
So she goes after him, over the border into the Old Country, which she hasn’t been in since she was very small. Not “going after” in the way which some annoying fantasy girls have, of just never doing what they’re told. She’s been born into a family which knows that death is sometimes a negotiable state, and she’s convinced that there should be a way to get him back, or at least talk and find out who killed him. Unfortunately, once she crosses the border it doesn’t take long to realize that she’s so far in over her head they have to pump in daylight. High school theory only goes so far in the real world, even if your high school DOES teach magic and sword fighting.
That covers up to the first hundred pages. And then it gets really exciting….. *sing-song happily*
It’s REALLY GOOD.
I gave it four stars out of five. It would have been five out of five if not for an unfortunate incident in the guest house which entirely kicked me out of the book-world, and a bit of an issue sometimes with following what the characters were doing. I want the next book.