Book for 11/7 – Clariel

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Clariel by Garth Nix

Length: 382 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Prequel To: Sabriel

Library Availability: 4 books and 2 audiobooks at Ramsey County Libraries; 35 books, 2 ebooks, 4 audiobooks, and 3 e-audiobooks at Hennepin County, 2 books and 1 audiobook at St. Paul Public Libraries.

Summary: Clariel wants nothing more than to live a quiet, solitary life in the forest. Unfortunately, her parents have other ideas, dragging her with them to the capital city of Belisaere to learn tame Charter Magic, etiquette, and other dull things to prepare her for her impending betrothal. Robbed of all her choices, Clariel leaps at the chance to help capture a monster, if only to use it as a cover for her escape. But will the lure of the monster’s wild Free Magic be too much for her to resist?

Fans of the series will be delighted to return to the world of the Old Kingdom, while new readers will not be so overwhelmed by detail that they cannot follow the story.


“Readers will hurt with [Clariel] as she longs passionately for freedom, rages at her enforced helplessness, snatches at desperate bad choices, and claws after a faint, bittersweet redemption. A thunderstorm of a tale, bitter and brutal but dazzling in its ferocity.” — Kirkus Reviews

Potential Discussion Questions:

In speculative fiction that takes place outside out world, authors sometimes consider using modern LGBTQA identity labels to be out of place. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

Clariel is both asexual and aromantic, yet also portrayed as socially aloof and morally ambiguous. Do you consider her good representation, or does she fall into some problematic tropes? Or both?

Have you read any of Nix’s Old Kingdom books before? How does this compare? If you haven’t read any others, do you want to now?

Three of the four books we have read in this club have been speculative fiction. However, most early LGBT fiction has been realistic fiction. Why do you think most of the recent prominent asexual characters have been in speculative fiction? What are the implications of this?

What did you think of the magic and worldbuilding? Was it interesting? Fun? Too complex? Too simple? Original or cliche?


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