Clariel by Garth Nix.
HarperCollins Publishers: NT, 2014.
The Abhorsen or Old Kingdom series

I waited many years for this to come out, only to miss it when it did. I am not disappointed, but it went a different direction than I expected. It didn't satisfy my curiosity about Clariel. She has much more story to tell, and the same is true of her cousin Bel. Most of the story is buildup, and the readers are definitely left hanging.

Clariel and her mother are in the family line for rule of the kingdom and the Abhorsen responsibility. None of the grownups in either family seem to be interested in their position or responsibility. The King is in seclusion and wishing for his heir to arrive and take over. The Abhorsen is more interested in game hunting. Clariel's mom is a goldsmith focused only on her artistry. Bel is the driving force behind any concern and is frantically learning Abhorsen duties. Clariel has been taught nothing and is happy to stay in her forest out of the way of it all. But it is not to be. Clearly, she will not get what she wants. The governor of Belisaere sees a chance to take the whole kingdom. Clariel is inevitably drawn into the events.

The book is a departure in a couple ways. With it being a prequel, well in advance of Sabriel, it feels like a different place and background. 600 years difference can change a place. Also, the other books were about Abhorsens and the walking dead. Clariel is not the Abhorsen, though there is a sense that she could be. She is instead pitted against free magic. It felt to me like the story is a story telling why her story isn't going to be told. In this process, I was waiting to see more of Bel then, and that really didn't happen either. It felt like the book wasn't finished. I'm okay with that for now. We'll see where Nix intends to go next. Still enjoy the series and waiting to read more.

related-free magic, fantasy, politics, lineage, personal independence, choice vs destiny
RL=7th and up

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