My Favorite New Fantasy Series

Friday, August 19, 2016

I am a big fan of high fantasy. I got my first taste from the Narnia books, and was gifted the Shannara series as a middle schooler. Give me a series with elves and dwarves and trolls and chances are pretty good I will love it.

Not so sure I would have said the same about a fantasy series that revolves around necromancy, but that was before I discovered Sabriel, the first book in the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix. There are no elves or dwarves to be found, but there is a strong, female main character. Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, the good necromancer whose job it is to send the dead back into death, thereby undoing the work of the bad necromancers, who bring the dead back into life. When her father disappears, Sabriel is forced to leave the relative safety of her boarding school and venture into the Old Kingdom, where magic rules and technology is useless. She begins a quest to free her father and defeat an evil greater than she imagined.

One of the things I've loved about this series so far is the strong female leads. Sabriel portrays the titular young woman as someone who loves firecely, who thinks on her feet, who is more than willing to venture into the land of the dead to save people she loves. The setting is interesting-the Old Kingdom is full of magic, but it is bordered by a world that has what seemed to be mid-20th century-type technology. It gives the whole thing a bit of a steampunk vibe. I'm about a third of the way through the second book, and the strong female thing continues through that book as well. The mythology that underlies the action is different than other series I have read, which makes the story feel fresh. An added benefit is that I've been listening to it on audiobook, and Tim Robbins is the narrator. I discovered this series on a list of young adult books, but I really think that adult readers of fantasy novels will also enjoy it.

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