Compared to the original trilogy, both Clariel the book and Cariel the character have a rather different feel.

As a book, Clariel takes place centuries before Sabriel, well before the fall of the Old Kingdom. We’re in an entirely different political landscape and rather than the general feeling of things coming back together (other than the whole end of the world thing), there’s a feel of falling apart. We’re square in the height of decadence that comes before the fall, with a failing monarchy, an Abhorsen who’d rather hunt than deal in death, and Charter Magic fallen out of fasion. It’s an interesting time period to explore, don’t get me wrong. It’s just rather different.


As I mentioned in , Abhorsen is really the second half of a book. It doesn’t stand alone, but it doesn’t need to. We continue where we left off in Lirael and things keep escalating.

Worldbuildingwise, we have a much deeper dig into the deep history of the world, into the roots of Free Magic beings and the Charter. We learn more about Mogget and the Dog both along with our big bad: Orannis, the Destroyer. On to the end of the world…

Zoe's Tale

In a nutshell, Zoe’s Tale is The Last Colony told from Zoe’s point of view.

It definitely has a different feel to it than the rest of the Old Man’s War books, matching the idea that it was written by a teenage girl (having never been one, I can’t guarantee the accuracy, but it worked for me).


Lirael is a bit odd when it comes to a sequel. While it’s set in the same world as Sabriel (and Sabriel even has a part to play), Lirael takes place a fair few years later, following two new characters: Lirael–daughter of the glacier bound seers only mentioned in Sabriel–and Prince Sameth–Sabriel and Touchstone’s son and Abhorsen in Waiting.

Once you get beyond the initial surprise at the change in topic, it’s another wonderful book. I’m honestly not sure which I prefer. Lirael is a wonderful character. She’s an outsider among an entire people who have an ability she does not, which is a recognizable situation to be in who turns into what’s effectively a battle librarian–who doesn’t love a battle librarian?


Sabriel is a wonderful book. Fantasy books dealing with death magic are among my favorites, the worldbuilding is fantastic (in the truest sense of the world), and the main characters are all a lot of fun. Each time I spend long enough without reading it, I always forget just how much I enjoy reading (or in this case listening too) this book.

The worldbuilding is great. You don’t get the sense of mechanical precision you would get from someone like Sanderson, but it’s a world that feels both magical and ‘real’, which is always something I’m looking for. In particular, the idea of a magical world and a WWIish era technological world, separated by a sometimes porous wall is a neat one. Even though it’s not an uncommon trope, I have yet to find a book that does it quite as well. Especially the eponymous Sabriel’s experience being born and of one kingdom, but raised in a boarding school and with the perspective of the other. I really want to know so much more than we’re given about this history of this world…

The Hidden Oracle

The Hidden Oracle is an odd book. As a second sequel series to first Percy Jackson and the Olympians and then the Heroes of Olympus, we do get new main characters characters: Apollo, now in mortal form and Meg, surprisingly powerful plant magic demigod with some cool Roman swords. But we also get a number of guest appearances and references to previous characters: especially Percy Jackson himself.

It’s interesting have a setting and characters we can relate to to help ground us in the new series, but on the other hand, if I wanted to read about Percy Jackson, couldn’t I just read his series again? I remember having the same problem with Heroes of Olympus.

The Last Colony

After John’s story in Old Man's War and Jane’s (to some extent) in The Ghost Brigades, this time around we get both of them. They’re together now and raising ZoĆ« (how’s that for a complicated family), when they’re tapped to head an entirely new colony planet Roanoke–with the first city named Croatoan. Also… why would they even agree to that?

I mean… come on. Either no one knows the history behind the names–in which case why in the world would they be using them–or they do–in which case why in the world would you choose that to name your new colony. Granted, they turn out to want it to be lost, but still. It’s a bit annoying.

Ptolemy's Gate

Nathaniel is 17 now, the sweetheart of the government after saving everyone in The Golem's Eye and even worse when it comes to believing the goverment’s line about the supremacy of magicians and mistreating Bartimaeus.

As you might guess, in much the same way as in The Golem's Eye, I didn’t really care for Nathaniel. Bartimaeus is still pretty cool, but where this book really shines is seeing what Kitty has gotten up to over the past few years and actually digging into what Ptolemy was like.

The Amber Spyglass

The Amber Spyglass is really a sequel to The Subtle Knife more than a conclusion to The Golden Compass . Most everything that I liked in the Golden Compass but was missing in The Subtle Knife is still missing here, while the new additions that annoyed me about The Subtle Knife are turned up to 11.

We get fascinating new worlds (miniature spies with poisonous spines on their feet! creatures with wheels! how weird!) but to the most part they don’t seem to really lead to the story. Lyra… is growing up and supposed to be super important to the upcoming battle, but really this is again a book about Will. And Lyra’s big part? Growing up. That’s about it.

A Brief History of Time

Oof. That’s an intense book.

Hawking does an impressive job of making cosmology and the Big Bang and black holes seem relatively digestable, but even for me–with a strong background in mathematics, a pretty decent one in at least undergradate level physics and a stronger study specifically in quantum weirdness, albeit more from a computational perspective–this book is hard to read at times.