Review: The Old Kingdom Series, by Garth Nix

Synopsis (from Sabriel): Sabriel is the daughter of the Mage Abhorsen. Ever since she was a tiny child, she has lived outside the Wall of the Old Kingdom–far away from the uncontrolled power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won’t stay dead.

But now, her father is missing and Sabriel is called upon to cross into the world to find him, Leaving the safety of the school she has known as home, Sabriel embarks upon a quest fraught with supernatural dangers, with companions she is unsure of–for nothing is as it seems within the boundary of the Old Kingdom. There, she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life, and comes face to face with her hidden destiny.

Title: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, Goldenhand
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub Date: 1995, 2001, 2003, 2016
Pages: 367, 527, 396, 400
ISBN: 9780007137312, 9780007137336, 9780007137350, 9781471404443


“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”

If you were a child of the 90’s, read books and had good taste in books, you’ll already be familiar with the brilliant series by Garth Nix.

If, for whatever reason, you aren’t already in love with these stories, then stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and go out and buy them.

This was the first time I got my hands on Goldenhand (to say I was late to the party is a bit of an understatement) and so, like any sensible blogger with over 200 titles on her TBR, I decided to re-read the entire series before starting the final episode.

And, as it’s almost impossible to review a sequel or a series without giving anything away, here is my attempt at reviewing something whilst being as vague as possible.

N.B. I have omitted the 4th book in the series, Clariel, as it is a prequel and I was told not to bother reading it. So I didn’t. #SorryNotSorry.



Everything a YA should be

Throw out the teen angst, love triangles, and pointless melodrama that’s present far too much in post-2010 YA books and give me some hardened characters who don’t constantly moan about their lot and just get on with it!

OK… I’ll admit. Lirael gets a bit grumpy at the beginning, but she has actually has a reason to feel the way she does.

These people deal with death

To emphasise just how tough these characters are – they deal with dead things. Like ALL THE TIME.

Normal people who are mildly annoying (like pedestrians that stop in the middle of the pavement) are enough to drive me crazy. But I’m talking dead creatures that’ll make you hide under your duvet, cuddle your pillow (you’re too old for toys now) and wish you still lived with your parents!

N.B. If you do ever come across a dead creature, leg it to any body of water you can find – for me, this is the Thames – and dive in. Sewer-smelling river water is our only hope for survival.

Death itself

The problem with knowing what death feels like is that you sort of have to die to experience it (stick with me here, there is a point!). So, naturally, there are multiple versions of death that you’ll have come across.

But which description is the right one? My answer? Who cares! Nix covers them all. From a cold grey and silent emptiness, to hot and hellish (get it?) bursts of sulphuric flame, it’s all there in each precinct of death.

I almost want Nix’s version to exist just so I can look up in the 9th precinct when it’s my turn to go.

The Writing

Garth Nix has the perfect balance of detail, drama, and gut-wrenching excitement that’ll keep you on your toes. The world building is seamless and imaginative; the Old Kingdom is beautifully depicted, and the differences between it and Ancelstierre is cleverly done.

Each character, whether primary or secondary, has been meticulously thought through. You get a great sense of depth from each person/being/animal/thing, which makes the whole story come alive.




There really are none.

Lirael is a bit long.

And people fall in love way too quickly.

But that’s it, really.


There’s a reason why some fantasy trilogies take a few years to write, and some take decades.


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