Terciel & Elinor (Garth Nix)

Terciel & Elinor is a prequel to the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.
Finished on: 25.11.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Terciel is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, apprenticed to his great-aunt Tizanael who picked him up from the orphanage when he was a child for that reason, and that reason only. They spend their time in the Old Kingdom, laying the dead to rest when it becomes necessary. Usually magic is limited to the Old Kingdom, but when the wind blows from the North, it can reach Ancelstierre. Elinor lives in Ancelstierre and knows nothing of magic, but that doesn’t mean that magic doesn’t know about her and her family. And so, when the North wind blows, and they are attacked, Elinor finds out about magic – and about her own connections to the Old Kingdom. Terciel and Tizanael manage to save her, but that’s only the beginning of the adventure and the fight.

Terciel & Elinor is the kind of read I’ve come to expect from the Old Kingdom series – which is to say I enjoyed it a lot, even though it probably isn’t my favorite in the series. It is definitely not a book you should miss if you like the series.

The book cover showing a drawing of a young man - Teciel - and a young woman - Elinor - fighting back to back.

Just to sketch out the major connections of this book to the rest of the series: Terciel and Elinor are Sabriel’s parents, and it was really nice to learn about how they grew up – in Sabriel’s story, they are not very present, although the results of the events in this book definitely are. Mogget plays a small part here, too, and he is more important in the (story-internally) later books. I’m also pretty sure that I didn’t catch all the references – maybe another re-read of the entire series is in order again.

Terciel & Elinor isn’t the first prequel in the series – Clariel is. But unlike Clariel, Terciel & Elinor gives us mostly familiarity. We know the characters, we know more or less how things will end up. It’s still wonderful to go on that journey, and it is a joy to return to the Old Kingdom and discover new aspects about the well-known things. But it is not that easy to get excited about the novel.

That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad read, not at all. I liked both Terciel and Elinor and the way they find themselves and each other, though the emphasis is more on the former than the latter. The book focuses more on Elinor and her discovery of the Old Kingdom and her own place there than Terciel. Since Elinor is the more lively of the two characters, Terciel being more reserved, I can’t say I minded that. It was certainly nice to re-discover the old Kingdom through her eyes.

The book is quite a page-turner, despite the action not being that important and things getting a slow start. I certainly felt like I couldn’t put the book down a lot and read it very quickly even though it is not being particularly short. The world still feels fresh, even after so many stories I read that were set in it. I will be looking forward to the next installment for sure.

Summarizing: very good.

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