Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A young woman named Clariel navigates a treacherous world of magic and politics as she tries to embrace her true identity.


"Clariel" is a fantasy novel written by Garth Nix. It is the fourth book in the Old Kingdom series, but it can be read as a standalone novel. Set in a world of magic and danger, "Clariel" takes readers on an epic journey filled with adventure, betrayal, and self-discovery. With its rich world-building and compelling characters, this book is sure to captivate both young adult and adult readers alike.

Brief Synopsis

"Clariel" is set several centuries before the events of the first three books in the series. The story takes place in the Old Kingdom, a place where magic and necromancy coexist with the modern world. The main character, Clariel, is a young woman who dreams of escaping her mundane life in the city of Belisaere and returning to the Great Forest, where her mother was born.

However, Clariel's plans are disrupted when her parents decide to move to the city. As the daughter of a highly respected goldsmith, Clariel is expected to follow in her father's footsteps and join the social elite. But Clariel is a loner who prefers the solitude of the forest over the bustling city life. She resents her parents' decision and longs for freedom.

As Clariel struggles to find her place in the city, political unrest and dark forces begin to threaten the stability of the Old Kingdom. With the help of a Free Magic creature named Mogget and a mysterious Charter Mage named Belatiel, Clariel embarks on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth behind the rising chaos and save the kingdom from destruction.

Main Characters

Here are the main characters in "Clariel":

ClarielThe protagonist of the story, a young woman who longs for freedom and resents the responsibilities placed upon her
MoggetA Free Magic creature in the form of a small white cat, who assists Clariel on her journey
BelatielA Charter Mage who becomes Clariel's ally and mentor
KargrinA powerful necromancer who seeks to unleash chaos and destroy the Old Kingdom
BelisaereThe city where Clariel lives, a place of political intrigue and tension

Summary of Story Points

Chapter 1: A Life Upended

  • Clariel learns that her parents have decided to move to Belisaere, the capital city of the Old Kingdom.
  • She is upset by this news, as she longs to live in the Great Forest.
  • Clariel's father insists that the move is necessary for their social standing and future prospects.

Chapter 2: Settling In

  • Clariel and her family arrive in Belisaere and move into their new home.
  • She explores the city and finds it overwhelming and suffocating.
  • Clariel meets Belatiel, a Charter Mage who senses her potential for wielding magic.

Chapter 3: The Call of the Forest

  • Clariel sneaks out of the city to visit the Great Forest, where she feels a deep connection.
  • She encounters Mogget, a Free Magic creature bound by a collar.
  • Mogget reveals that he can help her find a way to escape the city and return to the forest.

Chapter 4: Uncovering Secrets

  • Clariel continues her training with Belatiel, learning about Charter Magic and its powers.
  • She discovers a hidden network of tunnels beneath the city, used by the Free Magic creatures.
  • Clariel learns that Kargrin, a powerful necromancer, is planning to unleash chaos upon the kingdom.

Chapter 5: The Battle Begins

  • Clariel and her allies confront Kargrin and his forces in a fierce battle.
  • She taps into her hidden powers and uses Charter Magic to defeat Kargrin.
  • The kingdom is saved, but Clariel realizes that she must make a difficult choice between her desire for freedom and her duty to protect the realm.

Main Events

  • Clariel's family moves to Belisaere, disrupting her plans for a life in the Great Forest.
  • Clariel meets Mogget, a Free Magic creature, who offers her a chance to escape the city.
  • Clariel begins her training with Belatiel, learning about Charter Magic.
  • Clariel discovers Kargrin's plot to unleash chaos and must confront him to save the kingdom.
  • Clariel faces a difficult decision about her future and her responsibilities.

Themes and Insights

One of the central themes in "Clariel" is the struggle between duty and personal freedom. Clariel longs for the freedom to live in the Great Forest and resents the expectations placed upon her by society. However, as the story unfolds, she realizes the importance of her duty to protect the kingdom and the people she cares about.

Another theme explored in the book is the corrupting influence of power. Clariel's encounter with Kargrin highlights the danger of wielding magic without restraint. The choices she makes throughout the story reflect her internal struggle to maintain her integrity and resist the allure of power.

The book also delves into the complexity of identity and self-discovery. Clariel grapples with her own identity and struggles to find her place in a world that expects her to conform. Her journey of self-discovery and acceptance is a key aspect of the story.

Reader's Takeaway

"Clariel" is a gripping fantasy novel that explores themes of duty, power, and self-discovery. Garth Nix's vivid world-building and compelling characters draw readers into a rich and immersive story. The book raises thought-provoking questions about the choices we make and the impact they have on our lives and the world around us.


"Clariel" is a must-read for fans of the Old Kingdom series and anyone who enjoys immersive fantasy novels. With its engaging plot, complex characters, and thought-provoking themes, the book offers a captivating reading experience. Whether you are new to the series or a longtime fan, "Clariel" is sure to leave you eagerly anticipating the next installment in Garth Nix's enchanting world.

Clariel FAQ

  1. Who is the author of Clariel?

    The author of Clariel is Garth Nix.

  2. What is the genre of Clariel?

    Clariel is a fantasy novel.

  3. Is Clariel a standalone book or part of a series?

    Clariel is the fourth book in the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

  4. Do I need to read the previous books in the series to understand Clariel?

    While Clariel can be read as a standalone, it is recommended to read the previous books in the Old Kingdom series to fully understand the world and the context of the story.

  5. What is the main storyline of Clariel?

    Clariel follows the story of a young woman named Clariel who possesses the ability to see into the future. She becomes entangled in a dangerous plot that could threaten the entire kingdom.

  6. What age group is Clariel suitable for?

    Clariel is generally suitable for young adult readers and older.

  7. Are there any content warnings for Clariel?

    Clariel contains some violence and dark themes, so reader discretion is advised.

  8. Is there romance in Clariel?

    While there are some romantic elements in Clariel, it is not the central focus of the story.

  9. Is Clariel a fast-paced book?

    Clariel has a slower pace compared to some other fantasy novels, allowing for deeper exploration of the characters and world.

  10. Are there any sequels or companion books to Clariel?

    There are no direct sequels to Clariel, but it is part of the Old Kingdom series, which includes other books set in the same world.