by Garth Nix
The Old Kingdom is another series I discovered, and loved, during my teens. I first read Sabriel when I was around 13 or 14, and for years now I've been telling myself I need to reread the series because I can't remember a lot of what happened in Abhorsen, which I do vividly remember reading while on holiday in Cuba when I was 15.
I will always love Garth Nix for writing a high fantasy series with two female leads, neither of whom have a story revolving around romance. I won't say Sabriel and Lirael are 'kick ass' heroines because that's a term that's begun to annoy me as a lot of the time it seems to be used to imply that only heroines who are physically strong and tomboy-ish are 'good' heroines. But I suppose I'd better stop there before I go off on one of my rants...
What Sabriel and Lirael are are well-rounded, believable, realistic women. They're both intellectual and fairly quiet, disproving the theory that a heroine must be boisterous to prove that she's a 'strong, independent woman'. Yes the pair of them can certainly kick ass if they so choose, but they also cry, and feel fear and sadness that Nix doesn't criticise them for - in fact they're made all the stronger by brushing themselves off and getting back up to face another day.
I'm always going to love The Old Kingdom, and Garth Nix, for giving me a series during my teens that showed me to always expect better from what authors have to offer me. Nix showed me I didn't have to put up with the dozens of female-led stories out there that crapped all over feminism by suggesting the only thing we're good for is arm candy, because there are always authors out there ready and willing to tell a different story.