From the time I started reading, I've always been partial to Fantasy as a genre. Reading about worlds that could never be, and being transported to entire universes that authors create out of practically nothing, books on fantasy and science fiction were a means to escape the reality I lived in. And though there are a great many books and series that you could classify as fantasy, only a handful of them have a world so coherent, so well built, and a storyline so captivating, that you just can't stop yourself from going back and reading them again. The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix is, in my opinion, one such series.
Garth Nix is an amazing author based in Australia. I stumbled upon another one of his series in my school library, and from there went on to read a lot of what he's written. And it almost never disappoints. Yes, he is primarily an author who focuses on YA fiction, But the Old Kingdom is an attempt to go beyond that. And it sure does.
The books - Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen - are all set in a small, parallel world, and as it is with most books in the genre, it begins with a map ( A little background would help, I guess)
The two major regions where the story plays out are The Old Kingdom - the remnants of a long lost empire - and Ancelstierre - a place that resembles Britain in the 1930's. If you'd look closely at the map, You would see one of the things that this trilogy has in common with another, far more famous series. The two regions are separated by an enormous barrier called, for lack of a better term, "The Wall". On the side of Ancelstierre, there is a Border protection force that keeps things from over the wall, over the wall. And in case you haven't guessed already, there's magic involved. And dead spirits coming back to life. And a broken royal family on the verge of extinction. And Swords.
( not that one... )
Now, if you've already decided to never read this rip-off of a series, know this- Sabriel came out early 1995, while the other series (Fine, if you haven't got it already - A Song of Ice and Fire) started in mid-1996.
The books revolve around the journeys of two central characters, Sabriel and Lirael. Its not one of epic proportions, but it is one that you'd be able to connect to - one of self discovery, of loss and survival. That's the thing about Garth Nix stories - all the ones I've read are connected by an all pervading sense of loss, a melancholy feel that calms you. I always associate books of his with rainy days and cups of steaming Horlicks. That's the kind of feeling the books leave you with ( at least, that's what I felt.. do tell me if you think otherwise) and its something I would definitely want you to try. There have been multiple side-stories published, and even a prequel to the trilogy ( 400
years prior to it )- Clariel - that came out late last year. But it is the trilogy that actually matters ( though by all means, read the others, all of them are just as rewarding) .
The series builds up and maintains a steady pace throughout, and is filled with gems of characters, who although short-lived, leave a big impact on the story, one that talks about fate, mortality and the choices we have to make. If I had to pick one line from the series to sum it up, it would be the one that appears time an again, almost as if it were the central theme -
"Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?"
I'm not going to tell you anything significant about the plot, That's something you should have the pleasure of finding out yourself. If ever you get the time, and want a brief reprieve from this world we live in, the Old Kingdom is a place that's definitely worth visiting.