The mask of hindsight

Haverfordwest gorsedd circle
Not Charter Stones but Haverfordwest’s gorsedd circle for the 1972 National Eisteddfod

Garth Nix Clariel Hot Key Books 2014

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially when it comes to prequels. You’d think, with Clariel preceding the action in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy, that it would be easy to predict the way events will go, and that the end result is a foregone conclusion. If you did, you’d be wrong. As, indeed, was I.

Set centuries before the events Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen, Nix’s novel opens unprepossessingly with an old fisherman, Marral, who beachcombs the shore in front of the city of Belisaere, but who then picks up an object he shouldn’t. We then cut to young Clariel who has been brought against her will to this byzantine metropolis by her parents when all she wants to do is live a life in the Great Forest. But, increasingly, she finds herself hemmed in by circumstances and political machinations; and, to add to the usual teenage growing pains, she is subject to virtually uncontrollable rages when she is pushed towards and beyond the threshold of her dangerous temper.

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