Jordyn @ Birdie’s Book Nook is leading a read-a-long of SABRIEL, the first book in the Old Kingdom series. Having never read it myself, I decided to join as I thought it’d be a good way to finally read it. We’re now at the end of the second reading assignment for which Jordyn posted some discussion questions. If you missed the first week, you can find my discussion post here.
Now, onto the next set of Q&A, plus some additional thoughts.
Would you fly in a paperwing, given the chance?
After several crashes on a bike and rollerblades as a kid, partially due to speed, my desire for risky activities is not what it once was. I might be willing to be a passenger in a paperwing, but I don’t see myself piloting the aircraft. However, it seems like a powerful construction of magic and I am curious to know how one of the past Abhorsen’s created it.
What are your thoughts on talking animal companions, as a whole?
I absolutely love talking animal companions in stories, especially if they have a somewhat snarky personality. Mogget falls solidly within this realm as does the rabbit nimkilim in THE UNDERTAKING OF HARD AND MERCY. I think the most interesting talking animal companion I’ve ever read was in THE GOLDEN COMPASS. The fact that each person’s animal is an extension of their soul is fascinating. I’ve been meaning to read the last two books in the trilogy for sometime and this read-a-long of SABRIEL has reminded me of that goal.
Pick a character and discuss what you suspect about their journey going forward.
Well, we haven’t encountered many characters that have extensive page time aside from Sabriel, Mogget, and Touchstone. Now it seems we’re on the edge of Kerrigor potentially making an appearance. I suppose I’ll choose Sabriel. Physically, I fully expect her to become stuck in Death at some point during the last third of this book. Spiritually, I think her educational foundation will be shaken up along the way. It seems like she missed out on a lot of Old Kingdom history that she’s now learning piece meal. (I also want to say that I think it’s so cool they can talk about Great Charter topics out on open sea. How unique!) If one of the Charter stones is in Sabriel’s blood (did I get that right?) I wonder if she’ll eventually need to choose between being Abhorsen or Queen.
Who or what do you think Touchstone is?
Sabriel seemed surprised at the amount of power he appears to have. So maybe he’s another person with Charter blood running in his veins? (There’s a lot of magic to keep straight here that hasn’t fully been explained yet!) Or maybe he’s part of the royal lineage in Belisaere? I really don’t know. I hadn’t thought anything beyond what Nix wrote for chapters 11-21, but now this question has me wondering.
In my mass market paperback copy on pages 304-305, the discussion of Kerrigor reminded me a lot of how JKR crafted Tom Riddle in the Harry Potter series. It made me wonder if she drew inspiration from Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series, or, at least, from SABRIEL. Consider these passages:
Kerrigor’s body was never found, so he “‘has continued to exist…He wasn’t really beaten that night, in the reservoir. Just delayed, and for two hundred years he’s been trying to come back, trying to re-enter Life–‘“
Although Voldemort’s “death” and “reanimation” into a corporeal form aren’t identical to this situation in SABRIEL, they are very similar. Technically Kerrigor’s body exists somewhere, whereas Voldemort’s disappeared. But both are in some liminal space and just like Kerrigor is trying to re-enter Life, so is Voldemort. Kerrigor’s body tethers him to the living world whereas Voldemort’s horcruxes, which are portions of his soul, tether him to life.
And when Sabriel and Mogget are discussing whether Rogir is Kerrigor, Touchstone says:
“‘It is him…Kerrigor was Rogir’s childhood nickname. I made it up, on the day we had the mud fight. His full ceremonial name was Rogirek.'”
This instantly reminded me of the scene in CHAMBER OF SECRETS where Tom Riddle reveals that a rearrangement of his full name, Tom Marvolo Riddle, spells out “I am Lord Voldemort.” Again, this isn’t identical to the reveal in SABRIEL, but it is similar–Kerrigor is Rogirek spelled backwards.
Maybe I’m reaching for straws here and these are common elements of fantasy. But either I haven’t read a lot of fantasy with these elements, or I’m not delusional.
What did you think of part two in this read-a-long?