Thursday, August 16, 2018
Final Thoughts on Sabriel: The Platypus Reads Part CCCXXVIII
It's been several years since I last did a blog-through of a book. Returning to live-blogging and Garth Nix's Old Kingdom have both been fun. So what are my final thoughts now that it's over?
Nix is a much more accomplished writer than contemporary Terry Brooks. While I have fond memories of reading the Shannara series in the early 90s, I wish I had been reading Nix's stuff instead. On the other hand, even though Sabriel is a Y.A. novel, its darkness might have disturbed me and vitiated my ability to appreciate the world the book creates.
Turning to the Sabriel and Clariel as an adult, I find myself able to appreciate the tightness of Nix's writing as well as the genuine novelty and cohesiveness of his imagined world. I also feel much more able to appreciate Nix's Realism. There are rules to the Old Kingdom, and Nix plays by them. Many writers of Fantasy seem to confuse Realism with explicit content: sex+violence = Real. Sex and violence are very much parts of our real world, and Nix strives to handle both at the level for which his audience is ready. However, such thin Realism is undercut in most authors by a careful avoidance of the more prosaic features of reality: the need to eliminate waste, swollen noses, domains of competence, travel times, and simple changes of clothes. It's in these minor details that Nix excels, and he does so without bogging down his plot.
I wish I could write like Nix. He is a model for clear, crisp, efficient and evocative story telling. More than that, Sabriel has its own vibe that makes it something raises it above the sloshing seas of Lord of the Rings fan-fic that dominate so many bookshelves. The world of the Old Kingdom stands out sharp and clear as Middle Earth or Earthsea in its own light; however cold and slanted that light may be. I don't know when I will have a chance to pick up Liriel, but I am looking forward to it!