Review: Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix

When an ill wind blows from the North, the magic of the Old Kingdom arrives with it, completely upending Elinor’s idyllic but isolated life. Meanwhile across the Wall, Abhorsen-in-Waiting Terciel trains to take on a role he feels he’ll never be ready for, and can only hope that he and his master together will be strong enough to finally lay to rest the Greater Dead creature that’s haunted their family for generations.

Terciel & Elinor is the sixth book in the Old Kingdom series, which began with Sabriel in 1995, and serves as a prequel to that book.

The Old Kingdom has been one of my favourite series for a long time now, and although I don’t feel like the more recent books quite live up to the awesomeness of the original trilogy (and nostalgia has certainly played a part in my enjoyment of them), I’ve still really loved them all. This is always such a wonderful world to revisit, and Terciel & Elinor has all the eerie vibes I’ve come to expect – along with a heavy dose of cuteness in the form of it’s two new protagonists, who I quickly grew very attached to. In particular, I found Elinor’s perspective a lot of fun; her unusual upbringing combining with her natural good sense and stubborn resolve makes her journey continuously entertaining.

I was also surprised by how much I liked the romance in this; given that I’m used to thinking of Terciel and Elinor as just “Sabriel’s parents” (and Terciel in the original trilogy was such a distant, formal-seeming character, more often referred to by his title than his name), I wasn’t expecting to ship them so hard. 💕 Many of their interactions were a little awkward, as they’re both fairly naïve, but it was incredibly endearing to see them growing closer.

Perhaps because of the greater focus on romance, I found myself mentally comparing it a lot to Goldenhand – but plot-wise, I think that Terciel & Elinor is a lot stronger, and it probably has my favourite storyline of the more recent books. The writing, as expected, is excellent; I was quickly drawn into the story, and it held on tight the whole way through. In fact, I blew through this in just two days, which is something that’s only happened a few times in the last few years… 😅

Overall: an excellent novel. I perhaps wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point to the series, but if you like The Old Kingdom, you’ll like this, and if you don’t like The Old Kingdom, you clearly haven’t read it yet, and should definitely get on that. 😋

2021 in Review: Highlights

Well, the world may still be crazy, but in terms of reading, 2021 ended up pretty great! I blew my Goodreads goal out of the water (though I had deliberately set it low so that I wouldn’t stress over it this year) with 98 books read, and so many of them were fantastic! 😆 I finally got around to starting a bookstagram account in April, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going so far… and if I do say so myself, my 2021 My Year in Books page is looking pretty neat. 😋

As for some specific book stuff, I started some excellent new fantasy series last year. Notably, The Stormlight Archive (which has been a very long time coming); Black Sun (which has left me on tenterhooks for the sequel); and The Tiger’s Daughter (a sapphic, Mongolian-inspired fantasy with a heavy focus on its central love story – though I’m very much looking forward to more demon-fighting in the rest of the series).

I also did a lot of re-reading this year, and I’m pleased to say that a couple of the books I re-read, I liked even better than the first time around, those being Komarr, which I now rate among my all-time favourites, and The Edge of the Cloud, which was a burst of nostalgia that came at the perfect moment. And speaking of nostalgia, I managed to end the year on a real high point with Terciel & Elinor, a new prequel to a series that’s been one of my favourites since I was a teenager. ☺️

This was a great year for romance, too! It’s not a genre I’ve ever been super-into, but (like many people, I think), I’ve been appreciating it a lot in the last couple of years, and am definitely hoping to read more in 2022. Some of my favourites were Kulti (a slow-burn sports romance), Beach Read (a fun rivals-to-lovers story), as well as the political sci-fi romance Winter’s Orbit, and the Regency-inspired fantasy romance The Midnight Bargain.

… And my summer in general somehow ended up being very Regency-themed, with me (kind of accidentally) participating in #JaneAustenJuly. At long last, I read Persuasion, the last (completed) Austen novel I had left – and it was well worth the wait. 😁 I re-listened to Pride & Prejudice on my summer holiday not long after, inspired by a couple of spin-offs and continuations of that story that I’d been enjoying; namely Longbourn and The Other Bennet Sister.

And last but not least, an unexpected favourite (though also somewhat Austen-adjacent) was the Mean Girls inspired Regency rom-com Reputation. I was nervous to pick this one up, as I’ve historically had pretty bad luck with authors who I initially liked for other reasons (Lex Croucher, who wrote Reputation, is also a youtuber), but it was absolutely hilarious, and the perfect book for the moment in which I read it. 🎶 I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for their next release, Gwen & Art Are Not in Love, which should be out in early 2023. 🤞

(ROUGH) TOP 10:

  1. Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold* [REVIEW]
  2. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson [REVIEW]
  4. Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix
  5. The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
  6. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
  7. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  8. The Edge of the Cloud by K.M. Peyton*
  9. Reputation by Lex Croucher
  10. Longbourn by Jo Baker [REVIEW]

(*Re-reads included only where I’ve changed my rating.)

Upcoming Releases: Autumn 2021

As always, autumn seems to be a treasure trove of exciting new fantasy books, and there’s quite a few here that I’m dying to get my hands on (though I should probably try to restrain myself, as I went rather overboard with the book-buying in the last couple of months… 😓). It was a tough list to narrow down, but here are my most-anticipated releases for September, October & November:

[All dates are taken from Goodreads unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 5/9/2021.]

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff (7th September)

The first in a new urban fantasy series set in a world where humans and vampires are at war, with a main character who’s the last  of an elite order of vampire hunters, and is now imprisoned by his immortal enemies… All I want from life right now is all the edgy vampire books that ever existed, and it seems like Jay Kristoff is prepared to oblige me! I’ve only read a few of his other books, but I’ve really liked them all, so my expectations for this book are pretty high! Let’s hope it lives up to them! 🤞  Excitement level: 8/10

Three Novels by Yuri Herrera (14th September)

A gorgeous new bind-up of Herrera’s three novellas: Kingdom ConsSigns Preceding the End of the World, and The Transmigration of Bodies. I’ve already read the latter two of these, and they were excellent stories; engaging and thought-provoking, and showing glimpses of a Mexico that I had barely imagined… Excitement level: 6/10

Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix (2nd November)

A new entry in the Old Kingdom series, one of my all-time favourite fantasy series! I don’t know (or really want to know) much about the plot at this point, but I do know that it will be set some time before Sabriel (the first book in the series), and following Sabriel’s parents. 😊 I’ve pre-ordered this already (mostly because Forbidden Planet are releasing an exclusive edition that matches the old UK hardbacks), and am awaiting its arrival with bated breath! Excitement level: 10/10

King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair (30th November)

Another vampire book! 🧛🏻‍♂️ (Did I mention that I’m into vampires at the moment?) This is kind of a wild-card entry on this list, though, as all I know about Scarlett St. Clair is that she wrote a Hades & Persephone retelling that I was kind of interested in for a little while… but this book sounds like it’s right up my alley! Centring around an arranged marriage between a vampire king and a human who wishes to kill him, King of Battle and Blood sounds like it’s going to be choc-full of drama and angst, which is exactly what I look for in my fantasy romance picks! 😁  Excitement level: 9/10

Honourable Mentions:

  • The Tensorate Series by Neon Yang (21st September) – an omnibus edition of Yang’s novella series, which starts with The Black Tides of Heaven.
  • For All Time by Shanna Miles (28th September) – a YA reincarnation (or possibly time loop?) romance!
  • Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson (5th October) – the start of a new fantasy series about a nun possessed by a malevolent spirit, from the author of An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns.
  • Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (9th November) – the final book in the Aurora Cycle.
  • Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson (25th November) – the next book in the Skyward series.