I have never read the Old Kingdom books by Garth Nix although my daughter loved them. I was already in my twenties when they were published and although I always meant to read them, I never quite got round to it.
I did read the prequel, Terciel and Elinor as an ARC on Net Galley and I really enjoyed that which reminded me that I still hadn’t read the original books. Then I saw that Jordyn was doing a read- a-long which was the impetus that I needed to actually get the books and read them. I’ve never done a read along before so it will be interesting to see what other people think as I read the book. I’m really late joining in with this as the read-along started two weeks ago. However, we’ve been on holiday and creating blog posts on my phone felt too much like hard work.
Jordyn has suggested reading chapters 1-10 last week and then chapters 11-20 this week and has put up questions to go with them. See her blog post here for the synopsis.
She has created a set of questions for the first 10 chapters so here goes with my initial thoughts and ideas.
1. Our main character comes into this world dead, but her father immediately brings her back to life. What do you think this foretells for the rest of the book going forward?
One of the main themes in the book is necromancy and Sabriel and her father are both necromancers so this beginning really sets the scene for the rest of the book where the dead will not rest quietly.
2. There is a creeping sense of foreboding as soon as Sabriel crosses the Wall and enters the Old Kingdom. What do you think lurks there?
I loved the clear difference between Sabriel’s life at school and the danger and uncertainty that she is heading into when she crosses the wall. I didn’t really have any clear idea of what was lurking there but imagined that it probably contains death to a greater or lesser extent after the opening chapter.
3. When Sabriel reaches the Wall, she is shown immediately as be both competent, and unsure. Does this endear her to you, as a reader, or make you less sure about her prospects in the story?
I really like the character of Sabriel and think that the mixture of competency and insecurity fits my image of an 18 year old ready to leave school. We know that she has been successful at school, being at the top or nearly of all of her classes. This will give her a feeling of competency as there are things that she is confident about. However, she has never been in this situation before so she feels unsure. I’m looking forward to reading more about how she deals with whatever the old kingdom throws at her.
4. Charter Magic is a huge part of this story. What do you think of the magic system so far? What do you think the Charter Stones do? Why are they destroyed?
Charter Magic is obviously rune based and a written form of magic. I’m impressed by how Sabriel is able to memorise the runes so quickly. There are echoes here of other books that have used similar magic systems, not least LOTR where runes play an important part. It’s obviously a powerful magic and linked to the earth through the use of stones to ward places however the stones are being destroyed and the magic is becoming weaker. This is also linked to the lack of a ruler in the Old Kingdom so there is no royal line to protect and carry on the magic. Moggett says “The whole world slides into evil”. The weakened charter magic is no longer enough to protect the kingdom.
5. We meet Mogget in Chapter Eight. What do you think he is? Is he good, evil, or neither? Why do you think he is forbidden from speaking about the Greater Dead? Is it a device for the author, to drag out the mystery, or do you think there is a in-story reason?
I love Mogget and his interjections were some of favourite parts. I’m unsure whether he is good or evil. He is obviously more than he appears to be as he is controlled by the collar. What will happen if Sabriel ever takes the collar off will be really interesting I think.
I have really loved reading the first 10 chapters of this book and can’t wait to carry on with the story.