YMMV / Old Kingdom

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Some see Yrael's punishment for staying neutral during the first war against Orannis as completely unfair; so much so, in fact, that it makes Mogget's actions in the series much more understandable, and his contempt for his slavers entirely justified. Others see Yrael as, at least originally, a Dirty Coward who deserved what he got for sitting on the sidelines during a conflict of cosmic importance.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Nick is constantly upbeat and cheerful. He spends most of Goldenhand flirting with Lirael and acting like a curious child despite being possessed by an Eldritch Abomination only a few months before. Occasionally he'll lash out a bit when things get really bad but it's brief and fades quickly. Every other character gets normal amounts of angst and grief (Even Ferin is mostly putting up a front), it's only him.
  • Awesomeness Withdrawal: The books are beloved by those that have read them, but the long gaps in installments prevent the fanbase from being too enthusiastic about the series in general.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Clariel. Some people love her as one of the few examples of an Asexual in literature and find her realistically flawed and her Start of Darkness plausible. Other readers find her flaws unsympathetic and frustrating to read. It doesn't help that she's very different from Sabriel and Lirael.
  • Complete Monster: After Kerrigor aka Prince Rogirek became one of the Greater Dead, he tricked his half-brother into helping him murder their mother and their sisters in order for Kerrigor to use their blood to shatter the Charter Stones protecting the kingdom from the dead. Defeated and driven deep into death, Kerrigor's actions nevertheless destroyed The Old Kingdom, allowing all manner of The Undead free access to the world over the next several hundred years, while he waited for the chance to break free. Kidnapping the infant Sabriel, Kerrigor took her deep into death as part of a plot to blackmail her father, The Abhorsen, into freeing him. Years later, he traps The Abhorsen himself in Death and breaks free into the world of the living. He then tries to capture Sabriel and his revived half-brother as part of a plan to shatter the remaining Charter Stones. When this fails after The Abhorsen's Heroic Sacrifice, Kerrigor re-emerges from Death and leads a massive army of undead across the wall and into a girl's school, killing soldiers and students alike, before devouring Sabriel's Friendly Enemy, Mogget, alive and finally forcing Sabriel herself into a Mutual Kill. Obsessed with power and staying alive no matter what the cost to others, Kerrigor is the worst that the realm of the Dead has to offer.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Mogget, part-time completely harmless feline, part-time adorably snarky Magnificent Bastard.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: In Sabriel, Sabriel wonders at one point if she might find sisters among the Clayr. She later does find a sister raised among the Clayr: Lirael.
  • Iron Woobie: Considering how much conflict and personal insecurity issues Lirael has to struggle though and how it's evident she still bears the weight of the self-depreciation of her upbringing, Lirael may be one of these.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Depending on either your opinion of Mogget, or where you are in the series. Mogget does get better, mostly over the course of the third book. But even though Mogget can be quite caustic when he is criticizing the plans and plots of several characters, or griping about his slavery or the incompetency of his keepers, he both does his part when crisis strikes and sometimes does things that are not required of him. And at the very end, when those who are standing in for the original Seven are just about to falter, Mogget steps in and adds his power to the binding and helps to save the world.
  • The Untwist: Lirael and Sam's respective roles. So the Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette with a name ending in -el who takes up binding Free Magic creatures in her spare time is the Abhorsen-in-waiting, and the guy who hates his Abhorsen training and prefers his workbench to necromancy isn't? You don't say!