Friday 21 January 2022

Terciel and Elinor

Terciel and Elinor by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin) ISBN 9781760878818   RRP $24.99

Reviewed by Claire Stuckey       

Marketed as Book Six in the Old Kingdom series this title is a prequel. In this action-packed fantasy, we meet the young Elinor, desolate with only her governess Mrs Watkins and her brother Ham as company. Elinor’s mother is ill with a strange malaise that leads to her death.

 We are also introduced to Terciel, an orphan who has been taken in as apprentice by his great-aunt Tizanael, the Abhorsen. His training has commenced in the art of necromancy, weaponry, and war. When Elinor and her companions are faced with an army of the “undead” from a nearby cemetery Terciel arrives to assist, moving around the kingdom where attacks from a new enemy are taking place. Elinor brought up in Ancelstierre has only has her juggling and circus skills. Valuable lessons once practised with Ham during her childhood.

Elinor has lost her mother and her dearest companion. Her home is burnt to the ground. The towns people are fearful of the “north wind” all this cause Elinor to move away. Armed with more information on her own ancestry and insight into “charter magic” Elinor travels to the Wyverly College to learn and develop her knowledge and skills. Eventually she forced away from the school after several attacks she travels to the Old Kingdom to meet Terciel and Tizanael and to learn more about the magic she has inherited. Terciel and Elinor become lovers. Despite their loving relationship Elinor is troubled. As her skills develop further Elinor sees a disturbing future event.  

For those that have read the Old Kingdom series this will refresh the interest in the vibrant characters developed by Nix 25 years ago when Sabriel was published.  This title provides the story behind the series introducing the young Terciel who returns in Sabriel but as a secondary character, her father.

This is an enjoyable fantasy with lots of action, a range of real and magical characters to follow, and a well-developed plot. As a prequel it brings a back story to the established series which has been repackaged for the 25th anniversary.  I had not read the series before but still enjoyed the book. A colleague who had read the series rushed at the opportunity to revisit the series and the characters. Having really enjoyed the Left- Handed Bookseller of London in 2021 also, I looked forward to this title. Nix has provided quality fantasy fiction for teen and middle grade readers in Australia for decades and continues to do so.

Recommended for ages 13 years plus.

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