Sabriel is the first book of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, first published in 1995. It details the story of its eponymous heroine, Sabriel, a young woman who is heir to magical powers in the Old Kingdom. Sabriel must face various dangers to rescue her father, and ultimately the kingdom, from a powerful enemy.
Plot summary[edit | edit source]
Prologue: In a forest, a woman dies during childbirth; the baby is stillborn. A mysterious man arrives and enters Death, and saves the baby girl's spirit from the hands of a Dead creature. Returning to Life, the baby suddenly cries out, confirming that she is alive. The man identifies himself as Abhorsen, and orders that the baby be baptised with the name Sabriel.
Eighteen years later: A Dead sending appears at Wyverley College, a girls' school in the North of Ancelstierre. Sabriel, nearing the completion of her studies at the school, understands that it is a messenger from her father; it has brought her his sword and bells. Realizing her father is trapped somewhere in Death, she leaves the school and crosses the Wall to enter the country of her birth: the Old Kingdom. Pursued by a Mordicant, Sabriel eventually comes to Abhorsen's House, where she meets a talking white cat called Mogget. A Free Magic construct bound by the Charter, Mogget is a servant to the Abhorsen, though not willingly. Mogget gives her a ring, saying she will know when to use it. As the House is surrounded by the Dead, the two escape via Paperwing.
Attacked by Gore crows, they crash, and Sabriel is forced to release Mogget's collar. Unbound, he attempts to kill her, but she throws the ring (which began to expand) over his neck, and binds him into his cat shape. They explore the area and find themselves in Holehallow, a sinkhole full of ships. Sabriel finds a figurehead that looks lifelike, and rescues Touchstone, who has been suspended in Death for 200 years. Together, they travel to Nestowe, and from there sail to Belisaere, where Sabriel believes she will locate her father.
In Belisaere, the three enter the reservoir below the palace, where they find broken Great Charter Stones and the frozen body of Sabriel's father. When Sabriel frees him, he reveals that Touchstone is in fact a prince of the Kingdom (Kerrigor's half-brother) and the last of the royal bloodline. When Kerrigor and his followers attack, the Abhorsen sacrifices himself so that Sabriel and Touchstone can escape. Mogget stays with him. Sabriel and Touchstone meet Sanar and Ryelle, who provide them with a Paperwing to fly to Ancelstierre and directions to find Kerrigor's preserved physical body, which must be destroyed in order to weaken Kerrigor enough so that he may be defeated.
After crossing the Wall, Sabriel allies with the Scouts to find Kerrigor's body and transport it to Wyverley College, where they unsuccessfully attempt to destroy it. As Kerrigor lays siege to the school, the unbound Mogget returns, bringing Sabriel the Abhorsen's sword and Astarael. Mogget fights with Kerrigor for the privilege of slaying Sabriel, but is consumed by him. As Kerrigor prepares to kill Sabriel, she throws Mogget's ring over him, and binds him with Ranna. The mass of Free Magic separates into two sleeping cats: one black; one white.
Although Sabriel's wounds were fatal, in Death the previous generations of Abhorsens swarm around her, not allowing her to pass on without leaving an Abhorsen to carry on the work. They give her the strength to return to Life.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Sabriel the heroine of the story. Raised in Ancelstierre, she has little knowledge of her birthplace, the Old Kingdom, but is a skilled Charter mage.
- The Abhorsen is Sabriel's father, and is only known by his title in this book. He is responsible for fighting necromancy and the Dead.
- Mogget is a servant of the Abhorsen family. He is a Free magic creature of immense power, bound to the Charter against his will. Although in other times he wore other forms, in this book he takes the shape of a white cat.
- Touchstone is the last of the Royal bloodline, an illegitimate son of the last Queen. He is held suspended as a figurehead in Holehallow for 200 years, with his spirit in Death. He is Kerrigor's half-brother, and gave him that nickname.
- Colonel Horyse is the CO of the Northern Perimeter Reconnaissance Unit in Ancelstierre. Although he is not a powerful mage, he has some knowledge of the Charter and a little of the Sight. He dies in Kerrigor's attack on the school.
- Kerrigor is the primary antagonist of the book. Originally known as Rogirek, shortened to Rogir, he became a powerful Free magic sorcerer and killed his mother and sisters to break the Great Charter Stones.
- Sanar and Ryelle are identical twin Clayr. They appear towards the end of the book and show Sabriel where to find Kerrigor's body.