I was so excited to see that there was another Old Kingdom book coming out. So excited in fact, that when I bought the book, I sat on it for a full month because I was afraid I’d hyped it up too much in my mind, and I’d be disappointed. Happily, I was not. I can’t say that I like it more than my favorite book (Lirael), but it brought some welcome detail to the story of the Old Kingdom.
Set about six hundred years before the time of Sabriel, etc, Clariel is the granddaughter of the current Abhorsen, and a cousin of the King. Though she grew up in the Great Forest, she has moved to the capital city of Belisaere because her mother has been invited to join the High Goldsmith’s guild. Clariel only wants to stay in the forest, especially when they get to the city and she realizes that people have wanted her and her mother there because of their relations. The Old King is dying, and his granddaughter, the only direct heir, is missing. There are many forces at work angling to take over the monarchy, and any indirect relation of the king may be used in that game.
What I really liked about this book was the detail it filled in about the past of the Old Kingdom. In the Sabriel and Lirael’s time, the Kingdom has been in decline, so you only have hints of the grand capital city that once existed. I also really liked the whole Abhorsen family – by Sabriel’s time, they had dwindled to only a direct line, but at this time, there are aunts and uncles and cousins in abundance. It gave another view of why this kingdom would fight to survive, even as it was brought so low in the future.
Clariel also has another identity that the author confirms at the end, and it was nice to have that thread of a story explained.
I enjoyed this so much that I immediately read Sabriel when I was done, so I could continue my time in the Old Kingdom. I do love these books.