Tag Archives: clariel

Book #120 – Clariel

2014-09-25 19.58.56I have been anticipating the release of this book since about 2009, when I realised that Nix intended on writing more Old Kingdom stories.
Last year, I was lucky enough to obtain a sneaklet of the first two chapters of the book, at another Garth Nix event, which I posted about here. The official publication date of Clariel is October 2nd, but I was lucky enough to be able to pick up a copy at a book signing event in Dublin, so I had Clariel in my hands on September 25th, and had finished it by September 26th. This was probably my most anticipated book of the year, and so it’s probably also the fastest I’ve reviewed a book all year, too.

Clariel – Garth Nix

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.

2014-09-25 18.31.20Unusually for a review, since I normally have ebooks, I’ve got a few points about the actual print edition of this book. It’s a HotKey trade paperback, meaning that there’s been a change in publisher from the first three Old Kingdom books, which were published by Harper Collins. That’s not the worst in the world, because the cover design for this edition was based on the original Sabriel cover design, even down to the spot-laminated Charter Marks. It’s very cool-looking, although the charter marks aren’t on the back cover, and they don’t reach the top or bottom of the front cover. Even still, though, it’s a very good-looking book.
I was very surprised that the first edition is a trade paperback – it’s taller than either my Lirael or Abhorsen first-edition hardbacks, and taller by far than Sabriel or Across the Wall, both of which I have in paperback. I appreciate the continuity in cover design, though, even if there are minor differences in height and format.
2014-09-27 22.37.35

As for the story itself – I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clariel, as most people know well, tells the origin story of a, quite frankly terrifying, character from the Old Kingdom trilogy, one which was hinted (by Mogget) to have quite the backstory. The book starts off with seventeen(not sixteen, as the blurb says)-year-old Clariel in the royal city of Belisaere, six hundred years before the Old Kingdom trilogy. It’s a bustling, thriving, really different city to what we’ve seen in the Old Kingdom – before the Interregnum and the fall of the Regency, without broken Charter Stones all around the land and in a Kingdom where a Dead thing hasn’t been seen in years, it’s a hugely different (and hugely interesting) look at the Old Kingdom, with a, quite frankly, disagreeable protagonist.
Clariel is headstrong, independent, possibly asexual, and really interesting to read about, but she’s also a really cantankerous and disagreeable teenage girl. Having been forced to move away from my home when I was a teenager, I can understand this, and it makes her all the more real to relate to.

Living in Belisaere quickly becomes dangerous for Clariel, and we get to see more of the Old Kingdom again as Clariel begins on the path which will lead her to becoming the character we’ve met before. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say more than that.

I loved the extension of the world in Clariel, and I loved the character of Clariel, too. I really enjoyed learning more about Free Magic, about the Abhorsens and about what Belisaere was like as a thriving city, before the ruin of the Interregnum.
My only disappointment with the book was that it didn’t go far enough – we saw only one episode in Clariel’s life, and although it’s clear where she’s going (since we know the endpoint), I really would have liked to see how Clariel continued along the path she took the first steps on in this novel.

It’s for this reason that I don’t feel like I can give Clariel the same all-star rating that the Old Kingdom trilogy gets from me. Yes, it’s definitely one of my favourite books this year, and yes I thoroughly recommend it. From any other author I’d be giving it a rave review, but I think in this instance that I was just a tiny bit disappointed in Nix. I know it’s not any fun to tell the whole story, you have to let the reader guess some things, but I would’ve liked to see Clariel take one or two more steps along the path we know she takes.
I also have a complaint about the sub-title of the book, but enumerating that would be really too much of a spoiler. Suffice it to say that something I would’ve expected to come to pass from what I had read thus far did not do so, and I was a little surprised.

Still a wonderful book, and a gorgeous look at the earlier years of the Old Kingdom.
Four Stars


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Clariel Sneaklet

Today was one of the best days I’ve had in ages.
Anniversaries, boyfriend, nephew, whatever to all that stuff….!

Today, I met Garth Nix. And it was fantastic.

Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy was the first high fantasy series I read, and one of the first fantasy, and it has remained lodged in my consciousness ever since.
Although I don’t tend towards favourites, if pressed for a favourite author, Nix would probably be it, and he has been for the last ten years, or possibly more.
I know that when Abhorsen was published, it was very close to my birthday/Easter, and we had taken a trip to Achill (I think). I don’t remember properly, because I spent as much of the trip as I could buried in the book, devouring every word on the page.

That was probably nine years ago? Although I don’t hold his Keys to the Kingdom or standalone books in the same excessively high regard as the Old Kingdom, I’m very fond of them. I also thoroughly approve of the KttK because they managed to stay in the same format for the entire publishing run, making them one of the only full sets of books I have which match.

So last week, when I realised that Garth Nix was going to be in London doing a book signing, and giving away sneak previews of Clariel, which is an upcoming Old Kingdom book, I knew I had to be there.
I was afraid briefly that I was going to have to skip out on lectures, but thankfully it didn’t come to that. I queued up for about half an hour to meet this man, and I was quite honestly delighted. He’s a gentleman and a lovely man, who signed my new book (A Confusion of Princes, being one of the few Nix books I didn’t already have) and engaged in lovely banter with me for a few minutes. I don’t think anyone could have a bad word to say about him.

Equally exciting, though, is the fact that he gave me a preview of Clariel. I’ve been waiting for this book since before I knew it existed, and to get a sneak preview of the prologue and first three chapters is beyond exciting.
I devoured it on the way home, and am only upset that there’s not more than three chapters there. I’ll just have to try and get my hands on an ARC next year.

So yes. I will discuss the Clariel excerpt maybe another day. Today I’m just full of squealing and fangirling.
My only regret is that I didn’t get there earlier – the first four people in line got bell charms. I would LOVE to have gotten one of those.

Also signing at Forbidden Planet was Sean Williams, who has cowritten a series with Nix. I bought his book Twinmaker, which looks really good. He was really nice and really friendly, but he’s not Garth Nix, so I wasn’t as star struck at the sight of him.
I’m still crazy happy with how today went, though.



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