Thoughts on Rereading the Abhorsen Trilogy

I recently decided to reread the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix.

Even though it’s been fifteen years or so, I remember discovering Sabriel in the basement of my public library around seventh or eighth grade. I had this feeling of discovery, even though I found the book by chance, it felt special. The cover had a woman in a blue overcoat and silver keys and it ignited my imagination. I took the book home, read it, and bought a copy for myself because I loved it so much.

I still felt the special-ness of that memory as I took the book off the shelf. After reading Sabriel as an adult, the story still holds up for me. I found the problems of the Abhorsen (good necromancer) interesting and realistic. Nix does a great job of pacing and holding the tension. I finished Sabriel and then went on to read Lirael right away and I found that I still have a bit of a love-hate relationship because this story isn’t as straightforward as Sabriel’s. Sabriel is on a quest to save her father. Lirael’s story is more about finding herself and making her own place in the world, apart from having the Sight of the Clayr. But I finished it in a couple of days and went on to read Abhorsen, which is faster paced than Lirael, but still has some pacing problems compared to Sabriel.

Overall, I would recommend reading this series if you love YA and love fantasy. Sabriel is probably my favorite of the three, but that doesn’t seem surprising. I can still see the library in my mind when I think of discovering that book, so many good associations and memories. And a great story.


Two people are sitting at a table, one of them wants something the other one has.

Hermie sat at the study table in the library with the spellbook propped up in front of her while she studied for her finals. She tried in earnest to concentrate in spite of the fact that Harriet insisted on staring at her with puppy-dog eyes.

She continued to studiously ignore her sister, copying relevant pages into her notes. Professor Flameward was a difficult grader and she could hardly afford to miss a single point on this final. Otherwise, she might get less than a hundred percent in the class, and that would tarnish her streak.

Harriet began to make little whining noises.

Hermie began to move her wrist, in accordance with the diagram in the spellbook. She silently repeated the words of the spell to herself. Then she scribbled another note to herself, in the margins. The angle of the wrist had to be just so.

Harriet pulled the spellbook off of its stand.

Frowning, Hermie, huffed. “What do you want? I am trying to study.” She gave her sister the evil eye.

Harriet grinned. “Can I borrow your potions notes for tomorrow’s finals?”

“No,” Hermie said, snatching back the spellbook and placing it in its holder.

“No fair!” wailed Harriet.

Hermie said, “What isn’t fair is that last time I lent you my notes, they can back eaten through with acid. I need the notes for my own final.”

“I’ll fail without them!”

“You should have thought about that before going outside to fly with your friends instead of studying.”

“Mother will kill me.”

Hermie said, “Still not my problem,” and tried to go back to studying.

Harriet said, “But we’re twins! I thought being twinsies counted for something with you.”

“Fine,” Hermie said, with a sigh and pulled them out of her satchel. “But I want them back in tact, tomorrow.”

Harriet hugged her sister. “You’re the best,” she said, skipping out of the library.