600 years before the events that occur in Sabriel, seventeen-year-old Clariel arrives in the fashionable town of Belisaere. Her mother has been honored with the rank of Highest Goldsmith, and the entire family is to live in incredible wealth and prestige. Clariel is even set to be married to the Governor’s handsome (but cruel) son. But Clariel, while beautiful and intelligent, has a wild, untamable nature. She feels choked by the high walls and fancy dress of the city, and longs to return to her home in the Great Forest. Due to Clariel’s blood ties to both the King and the Abhorsen (controller of Death), Free Magic creatures are attracted and enticed by her presence. A member of the Royal Guard strikes a deal with the miserable, homesick young lady- she will act as bait to draw a Free Magic being out of the city, and he will help her escape Belisaere for refuge in the forest. Clariel struggles to always do right, and to remain uncorrupted despite all those around plotting to use her for their own selfish purposes. Still, she is strangely drawn to the elemental and raw power of Free Magic.
This is a fantastic prequel to Garth Nix’s trilogy that is comprised of Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen, and Clariel is one of the most compelling, conflicted, and ultimately, tragic, characters ever written in young adult fantasy. For anyone who loves fantasy, magic, and heroes with a dark side, this book is a sure bet!!!