Release Date: 2nd October 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
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 Kilp. 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.
Clariel is a book which I have been waiting so long to read. I have waited for it’s release, then I had to wait for it to come out in paperback to enable me to add it to my shelves. It was long wait for this book, but I am so glad I did wait because it looks lovely on my shelf with the other books in the series. I do love when a series matches, I was worried after such a long gap between the books that they might redesign the covers and ruin my life, thankfully the covers still work and the publishers stuck with it.
The story itself begins slowly. I kept waiting for some action. Waiting… and waiting……and waiting. Once it finally did begin it was interesting, but goodness I found it a bit dull and I was a bit apprehensive that this would not get better. This is one of my absolute favourite fantasy series ever since I was about 15 and discovered the books, so to be disappointed by this book would have been heart-breaking. Thankfully, once the action begins and you get into the real meat of the story it gets better.
I think my problem was I could not agree with Clariel’s thinking, she was too focused on wanting one thing and refused to listen to anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, her parents were also unfair, I get that, but Clariel wanted one thing and refused to listen to any reason on the matter. It was so frustrating at times, you just wanted to shake the girl, it was that kind of feeling which it invoked. It didn’t help she was always so closed off and reserved, refusing to make a true human connection throughout the book. It spoke volumes for the character, she is reserved and settled on a solitary life, but I do kind of wish things had developed differently for her.
I am kind of glad it’s been a year or so since my last reread of the series because this is a prequel novel set a few hundred years before the events of Sabriel. I think, if I had reread the series more recently I would have picked up on more of the hints about why this novel is a significant prequel. I only got inklings of half remembered things, and I think I preferred that. It meant I truly did enjoy the big reveal, I had that ‘I thought so’ moment but was still pleasantly surprised.
As a whole, this was an enjoyable book, but I can’t compare it to the rest of The Old Kingdom series otherwise it would not match up to the other books. It frustrated me and I despaired at times, but that’s why I enjoyed it. I complain about how frustrating I find books sometimes, and sometimes I’ll cringe at embarrassing moments, but I view that as a good thing because any book that can invoke that kind of emotion is doing something right in terms of the writing. This is one of those books. Nix knows how to write an interesting story, sure the pace began too slow for my liking, but once it got going that book did not leave my hands.
Do you ever read a book which you love by itself, but as soon as you compare it to the rest of the series it pales in comparison? Is that a negative thing about the book, or an endorsement for the greatness of the series? Either way I did enjoy this book, I initially wanted to give it 5 stars but had to down grade it to 4 after some consideration, I’d love to hear your thoughts below.