This really wasn’t a hard task to fulfill. In fact I’m quite certain that it is the easiest requirement in this book challenge. There are millions of books to choose from. So the question is, which book with magic did I choose? I chose Clariel by Garth Nix.
In his latest installment of the Old Kingdom Series, Nix has taken us back in time hundreds of years before the events of the Abhorsen Trilogy. Clariel is the only child of a master goldsmith and the granddaughter of the Abhorsen and want’s nothing to do with her ancestry or her mother’s trade. Her only goal is to escape the city and make her way back to her old home in Estwael, but things soon begin to block her path of escape. A Free magic being is let loose on the city, the governor is rumored to be making moves to take the throne, and her parents are setting her up to be married to a murderer. But Clariel is discovering that she has powers of her own; powers that could be the answer to all her problems. But there is a danger that accompanies these powers. If Clariel is to stay true to her self she will have to learn to control her power or it will control her.
This wasn’t my favorite book in the Old Kingdom Series, but it was still good. I’m trying to think of what it was that made this book less appealing to me than the other three, but there isn’t anything that I could point as being problematic with the novel. The only thing that does come to mind is my personal opinion, and that is that I didn’t like the main character as much. She was strong and goal oriented, which were good, but she was also arrogant and selfish. To me her negative qualities won out, and it made her frustrating to read at times. What I did like was that her flaws were necessary to the plot. She wasn’t that way because Nix wanted her to be that way on a whim (he might have, who am I to say), it felt like her qualities helped make the story. She fit into the plot like the final piece of a puzzle. It was very much Clariel’s story. This is different from books like Harry Potter, which are written from Harry’s perspective about the events going on in the wizarding world. In a simplified explanation it’s plot driven vs. character driven.
What I did find quite fascinating was the different perspective. In the previous three books the main characters have been the ones who are going to save the world, the kingdom, or something else. Clariel is not the savior of anything. She is a piece of the game that gets caught up in a whirlwind of events. As a result we hear about some events by hear say and not from a character who was present. It was both a surprise and a pleasant change of pace.
I have not read many of his books, but from those I have read I believe Garth Nix to be a fantastic author in the young adult fiction genre. His stories are unique in magic, plot, and character. If you’ve never read any of his books I would recommend starting with his Old Kingdom Series, I have already blogged about them and you can search for them under any of their titles, but his Keys to the Kingdom Series are also good. As I try to create my own magic system for a story I can testify that it is not an easy thing, but Garth Nix, like Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, and the many other great fantasy writers makes it look so natural that you can almost imagine a world where such magic exists.