Book Review #9 CLARIEL by Garth Nix

I picked this book up from my library having never read Garth Nix before. As it turns out, it is a prequel to the ‘Old Kingdom Series’ so it was a good one to start with I suppose. The other three in the series are:

Set in another world where magic is common we meet a girl called Clariel. She had just been uprooted from her beloved forest home to the city for her mother’s goldsmith work. Cousin to the old king and daughter to a highly talented and famous goldsmith she struggles to adapt to a life of politics, traditions and restrictions. Clariel plans to leave as soon as possible and return to the great forest and live there. As you can guess, things don’t quite go to plan.


Within her world there is Charter magic, controlled by spells that need to be learnt and studied. It was once very popular but is deemed only suitable for lower people to use now. There is also free magic which appears more dangerous to those who weald it but is less restricted to spells and learning.

I like Garth Nix’s style of writing, it flows nicely and he shows character traits wonderfully. But the book is almost 500 pages long… It’s massive! It is clear from the very beginning that Garth Nix has a whole world in his mind that he knows like the back of his hand and he describes it with incredible detail. But for me, there was a little bit too much detail. It left little to my imagination and at times I scanned parts of the text to avoid it.

I am not sure that I connected strongly with Clariel as the main character. She seemed extremely compliant at one point and then in a screaming rage (literally- she is a berserk) the next. Her calm response to the upheaval and the receipt or half-truths being told to her is totally contradicted by her uncontrollable rages over minor things the next.

In general, I enjoyed the book and may read the original series to see how Clariel’s story fits into it but I hope they aren’t such mammoth books.

CLARIEL gets 3 stars from me ***

Has anyone read all of the series? Are the others really good? I’ve heard they are. Let me know.

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