Old Kingdoms and New Tales


EAFOL16 Programme Manager Aedan Lake finds himself captivated by Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy

Clariel-UK-pb-largerI recently had the pleasure of reading Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy for the first time – books that I missed out on in my childhood but are every bit as compelling for adult-me.

Intelligent and inventive, the Old Kingdom books – Sabriel, Liraeland Abhorsen – feature characters who move back and forth between Ancelstierre, which is much like our own world, and The Old Kingdom, a world governed by altogether different laws where advanced technology fails and danger comes in the form of Necromancers and vicious Free Magic creatures. But there are dangers that threaten both worlds, and it is up to the Abhorsen to restore order.

The original trilogy features likeable characters (human and otherwise) and gripping that have by themselves led to it being grouped in the highest rank of young adult fantasy, but I was pleased to discover that the books also have a moral and emotional maturity that outclasses many ‘adult’ books. Particularly poignant given the current state of the world is the plot involving thousands of displaced refugees, who become pawns both in the earthly politics of Ancelstierre and its neighbouring countries and in the schemes of the supernatural villains of the series. Nix is an author who does not take the horrors of war lightly, nor the pain of loss, but who nevertheless tells a story in which decent people doing the right thing have a chance to make the world(s) right again.

With all this in mind, I was very pleased to find that Nix just last year added a new book to the series –Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen. Clariel is a prequel that promises to further develop the Old Kingdom and examine the nature of Charter and Free Magic, and I’m even more excited to see that Nix is writing further books that pick up the story after Abhorsen.

I am unfamiliar with Nix’s other books as yet, but am particularly intrigued by his YA science fiction novel, A Confusion of Princes, a high-concept space opera full of intrigue and superpowers. That one is definitely going on the reading list.