So Clariel is the 4th book in the Abhorsen series but is set 600 years prior to book #1 (Sabriel <3). I am a huuuuuge fan of the whole Abohorsen series, its really old school and almost medieval and just plain cool IMO. Buuuuut I had opinions about Clariel. But before I get to that, heres the synopsis (via goodreads):
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.
So… this was good. It was! I did like it, I liked the story, I liked the Free-Magic-ness. I have always thought the idea of the Charter & Free magic was super cool. The way life & death were interlinked and that few people could walk in both. I have always been of the opinion that it is all v v cool. The main characters in all 3 of the previous books were all charter mages and knew how to use the charter (even if only a little bit) and were all actually, well.. they weren’t stubborn and single minded. They used their brains and thought about consequences of their actions. Then there is Clariel. The complete opposite. A little annoying, spoilt, single-minded… in a word… annoying.
Enough about her personality though: this book was not nearly as satisfying a sit could be, and for me, I think that has to do with Clariel as the main character. Because the characters all around Clariel were interesting. Such as Bel, her cousin and self-appointed Abhorsen-in-waiting-in-waiting. Who thinks about his actions and those around him and how they can affect the greater good. Its funny, the lack of thought on how actions can affect the greater good seems to be a familial trait. The Abhorsen, Clariels grandpop, is lazy and arrogant and due to how peaceful the world has been up to that point, refuses to do absolutely anything even when he is threatened with a Free Magic creature running around. He isn’t even the one that catches it! Kargrin, this big Charter Mage who originally is appointed to teach Clariel about the Charter, is the one that catches the damn thing! Its the same with the Royals (Clariels cousins) and The Clayr (also her cousins). Basically everyone in power is lazy & Clariel doesn’t give a damn about anything. Until the end. And at that point she kind of ends up paying for her actions.
About the story though: The story was great and took you all over, it was full of family drama and intrigue, murder, charter magic, free magic (which we got to see in action which was kind of awesome), recurring characters of the feline kind and what can happen when you don’t listen or even care about the children in your care.
All in all: The book was interesting, Clariel was not. The characters all around her all had their good (ish) points, but those in power were lazy. Clariel did try to make up for her actions, but unfortunately that didn’t make up for the fact she did what she did. I finished this book feeling bemused and not very satisfied if I’m honest.
I am, however, excited for Goldenhand!
I feel like this isn’t the most satisfying review ever, I was trying not to be spoiler-y, so I promise the next review will be better! I actually like the book I’m going to review next! Its called A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel
My Rating: 2.5/3 out of 5
for a jump back into the Old Kingdom, one of my favourite places to be.