Review: Clariel

Posted July 9, 2015

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Clariel Clariel by Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #4, The Old Kingdom #4
Published by Hot Key Books Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Clariel has only recently arrived in the royal city of Belisaere, and she is not adjusting well to her new life filled with courtiers, false flattery, secrets and endless rules of propriety.

But when a dangerous Free Magic creature is discovered, Clariel is given a chance to prove herself. She is delighted - until events rapidly spiral out of her control. The ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be crumbling, and Clariel must decide between her duty and her dreams.


Clariel is the newly released prequel to the Old Kingdom, or Abhorsen (as it is known in some parts of the world), series.

Now let me start by saying that I have NOT yet read the rest of this series, however I fully intend to. Hot Key Books were kind enough to send me this copy of Clariel and to assure me that as it’s a prequel it could be read without having read the other books. So, I probably have a different take on this book from those of you that have read the rest of the series.

I liked this book but I didn’t love it. Clariel, our protagonist, has moved to the royal city of Belisaere. Her mother’s recent admission to the High Guild of Goldsmiths has meant that Clariel has had to move, along with her mother and father. She misses her home Estwael and the Great Forest that surrounds it. She has always dreamed of being a Borderer, a warden who patrols the forests of the Kingdom. She has a great affinity to the forest, however her parents do not see this as an option befitting of a young girl of her station. Yet Clariel resolves to do whatever she can to leave her Belisaere ‘prison’ and return to the woods.

Basically a lot of this book was Clariel moaning about not being a Borderer, wanting to go back to the Great Forest and generally hating everything about anything that didn’t involve trees. I found her a very hard character to like. At the beginning I thought it was all setting the scene, getting used to life in the city, her new school, her Charter Magic lessons but the whole way through the book all she thinks of his herself and her Forest. That may sound overly harsh actually but I just didn’t like her.

I find it hard to fall in love with a book whose main character irritates me, and so as much as I enjoyed the magical elements of this book and the political aspects of life in Belisaere, I just couldn’t loveĀ it.

However, I’m now more determined than ever to start Sabriel as I strongly suspect if I find a protagonist I like then I could fall in love with this world and its magic.


Have you read Clariel?

Did you read it before or after the rest of the series? I’m curious to know how you found it.