When I start blogging back at the start of 2014, I watched news of upcoming releases closely. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered that there were other fans of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series and that a fourth book was being released at year’s end. I added Clariel to my TBR pile quickly and awaited its release.
Sadly, Clariel did not live up to my expectations. It took me two months to finish this book. I’ll admit I had a lot going on in June and July, but read over 10 other novels or short stories during those two months before I buckled down and actually finished Clariel.
Right away, I struggled to connect with Clariel. She was whiney and her constant complaining grated on my nerves. She talked about getting away, but never once made an attempt. Her parents seemed to provide no supervision, she bragged often about her skills as a hunter and never once made the attempt.
I was lost in the Old Kingdom. It has been years since I read the original trilogy and that was a concern when I started the book. But this story is set several hundred years before the original books so I thought I would be fine. I was wrong. I’m not sure rereading the series would have help in this case. The politics and the people seem to be different. The Abhorsen is complacent. The only thing that seems the same is the Charter Magic and it would have been nice to have “a refresher course” on how it works.
The plot of Clairel plodded. It was like walking through shoe-sucking mud in a downpour. It seemed like I never made any progress. There would be a few chapters of action and then nothing for several more. The ending sped by because outside forces started to act to bring the story to conclusion. This was a book, when I was about 50 pages from the end, I couldn’t believe there were only a few pages left because I thought more needed to happen because nothing happened for a good portion of the book.
While I am still a fan of Garth Nix’s books, I am not a fan of Clariel. Too much of nothing happens for about three quarters of the novel and with a lack of connection with the main character, I don’t have a burning desire to travel to the Old Kingdom via new adventures any time soon.