Book Review: Terciel & Elinor (The Old Kingdom Series) by Garth Nix


In a land where the dead will not stay dead, eighteen-year-old orphan Terciel is learning to wield a mighty and terrible power: necromancy.

For he is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, the latest in a ancient line of necromancers tasked with protecting the Old Kingdom and preventing the Dead from crossing over to the realm of the living.

Across the Wall in Ancelstierre, where magic does not usually work, Elinor, nineteen, lives a secluded life. But when destiny intervenes, she finds herself on a path to love, danger, and an adventure into the dominion of the dead…

She does not know that she is deeply connected to the Old Kingdom until destiny places her on a path of magic, romance and a fight against the Dead who will not stay dead.

Publisher: Hot Key Books Published date: 2nd November 2021

Author’s Website:

UK kindle cover for Terciel & Elinor


I have been a huge fan of The Old Kingdom Series, ever since I discovered a well read copy of Sabriel at my local library around 15 years ago! I remember starting it, and sitting on one of the old leather reading sofas in the library. I remember that rush of feeling I had from realising after only a few chapters I couldn’t put the book down!

The nostalgia of reading Terciel and Elinor was wonderful. I could smell the leather from that old sofa in the library, I could even picture the day I went back to check out Lirael and Abhorsen.

Thank you to NetGalley & Bonnier Books for providing me with an ebook arc.

This book is a prequel to Sabriel, so, if you’re new to the series, you could start with it – but personally I prefer to read in order of publication for the full reader experience.

It’s going to be hard for me to review this book without comparing to the rest of the series, but I will keep it spoiler free!

For me, Terciel & Elinor was much slower than the rest of the series. Nix takes his time setting the foundations for the climax. I had hoped to read more of Sabriel’s parents time together, and although the story isn’t quite how I imagined – it had the perfect balance of new beginnings, romance, fantasy and of course death.

The magic system (Charter Marks / free magic) is explained again, and yet, it still felt new to me. It is a very complex system, so I welcomed the deeper insight.

The luxury of knowing the back story, for me, it was easy to pick out the foreshadowing of what was to come. So much so, half way through I started listening to Sabriel on Audible (Tim Curry narrating is simply magical). There are bittersweet moments in T&E and without spoiling, it created a burning hope in me that I knew would turn to ash:

“She wouldn’t be the main character herself,  Elinor thought. But an important supporting one.”


“You delay me, annoy me, that is all. And one day you will pay the price.”

The foreshadowing gave me goosebumps.

Elinor is very likeable, she’s naive but embraces her new life, she isn’t foolish enough to not be afraid but she shows plenty of courage. One thing Nix never let’s me down on, is a great female lead.

Terciel is more studious than I imagined him to be. He’s gentle but defiant and much more cautious – which brings out a protective side of him towards Elinor. It’s an interesting contrast to how he appears in Sabriel (initially).

Forbidden Planet special signed edition of Terciel & Elinor

Their romance isn’t subtle. They’re thrown together and then separated, but it’s clear they have chemistry from their very first meeting. I would love to know more of their tale from the ending of T&E to the beginning of Sabriel. This is the prequel of how they came to be and although the ending is the same, there is still so much to tell!

One of the things I love about this series is how believable it is. It is a wonderful fantasy, with magic and necromancy, but it feels like it could be the norm. It’s not something I feel I can explain very well, but the way Nix writes, I can really emerse myself into the story. T & E was no exception. It’s all in the detail, as they say, and I could picture everything so vividly!

T&E compliments the series, and over all I feel like it has brought back that spark from the original trilogy.

It was incredibly nostalgic being back in the Old Kingdom. The Abhorsen’s house is always a fascinating location, Mogget’s cameo, the journey through the Gates of death, the hints of what’s to come left me feeling fulfilled. I’m certainly going to complete my reread this year.

This will be a comfort read for previous readers of The Old Kingdom… especially if you started it way back when. Sabriel just had its 25th Anniversary!  I also hope it brings more readers to the series!

My humble collection of Garth Nix Hardbacks including Newt’s Emerald on the end!

Published by hklovesbooks

A book loving coffee addict!

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Terciel & Elinor (The Old Kingdom Series) by Garth Nix

      1. I think there is a jump from Sabriel to Lirael and the way Sabriel ended it was expected to still be from her POV. That’s what I remember initially, so I get it. If you ever do decide to read again, I hope you enjoy it more šŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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