abhorsen's bells


Seven jauntily apocalyptic songs for the seven bells of the Abhorsen. Mostly gospel and blues, with some pop thrown in. Listen here

The Bells of the Necromancer

First is Ranna - the sleep bringer, takes all those who hear it into slumber.

Next is Mosrael - the waker, throws the piper further into death bringing the listener into life.

Third is Kibeth - the walker, Gives freedom of movement to the dead or forces them to walk at the wielder’s will.

Fourth is Dyrim -speaker of melodious tone, gives speech to the dead, or unlocks words. May also still a tongue that moves too freely.

Fifth, Belgaer - The thinker, can restore independent thought or memory, or erase them.

Next is Saraneth - the binder, shackling the dead to the wielder’s will.

Last, Astarael - the sorrowful, will cast all who hear it deep into death. Including the wielder. Do not call upon Astarael unless all is lost.

The Prankster’s Guide to the Seven Bells of the Abhorsen

Ranna is the smallest of the Bells and is called the Sleepbringer. It is used to avoid having to get stabbed with needles before surgeries, end classes early, wrap your school principal in toilet paper, and run Donald Trump up the flagpole naked after drawing stupid faces on him. Nothing terrible happens if its ringer makes an error, so try this one first to see if you can pull this stuff off.

Mosrael is the Waker. Its purpose is to bring cool historical figures back to life (use of it to ride dinosaurs has also been recorded); however, the ringer will be thrown into Death, so make sure you can get back to Life before trying this, and go to a secluded location where no one will discover your temporarily Dead body and learn what you have done before your brilliant plans have come to fruition.

Kibeth is known as the Walker. It can be used to use massive groups of Dead people doing the Macarena barge into your exam/budget meeting , or force them through the gates of Death, thus putting the Ghostbusters out of a job. It is represented by the Disreputable Dog, who, if she has white fur (what color is her fur??), is technically a White Walker.

Dyrim gives the Dead a voice, or removes that of annoying living parents, bosses, spouses, younger siblings, and Abhorsens giving lectures about responsible Bell use.

Belgaer can give a Dead spirit its memories, and give independent thought, but can just as easily erase any reservations Nikola Tesla may have about helping you build a Death Star.

Saraneth is the favorite of necromancers in the story, in that it forces obedience from the Dead- which is code for “you can use this to make people do WHATEVER YOU WANT”. The possibilities are truly endless! (You can also create an army of Dead creatures to fend off the angry hordes coming for your head!)

Naturally, all of this attracts a lot of attention, especially from those whose duty it is to control malicious necromancers. That’s why there’s one more Bell:

Astarael is what you use when the Abhorsen, now with an army to back them up, finally catches you.

(You were never going to get out of this alive, so why not take as many enemies of fun with you as you can?)

I hope this guide proves helpful and informative. Good luck, and remember, the big bell is the no-no bell!

I’ve always loved the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. My only niggling complaint is that in most of the artwork and fanart, people draw the bells kinda small? And usually being held straight down daintily between 2 or 3 finger like
You there. Dead fellow. Could you go back to death please? Off you go. There’s a good lad.
whereas I’ve always imagined them held firmly in your fist waving it around like a town crier like
*“For Whom The Bell Tolls” blares in the background*


So I’m thinking of working on a Sabriel costume. Not for this Halloween, probably not even for next Halloween since I anticipate this being a slow and intermittent process, BUT, I picked up some bells cause I think we can all agree they’re the COOLEST part!

I’m a little torn between the upper set and the lower set. Upper set has all loops for handles, but the two smallest (ranna and mosrael) are basically the same) But on the lower one having ONE bell with a long handle seems weird…Hmmmmm. What to do?


Abhorsen Sabriel.

As finished as it’s going to get at this stage. I’m tired of looking at it, and i don’t really know how to improve it. At least not right now. I do’t think its too bad, but as with everything art-like, if you stare at it for too long, you only pick out flaws and you don’t look at the merits. 

Still! here you have it, including a variant for a potential cover. Because why not?

Also, this will be going on Deviantart too, first finished piece going up in a long-ass time. 

I have always wondered with the seven bright shiners who did what. Clearly Kibeth and Astarael weren’t part of the five great charter but I’ve always wondered which of the other five corresponded to which 

Five Great Charters knit the land

together linked, hand in hand

One in the people who wear the crown

Two in the folk who keep the Dead down

Three and Five became stone and mortar

Four sees all in frozen water.

At the end of Abhorsen we get to see some of it. Saraneth was clearly the abhorsens (two) since Sabriel weilds it, Mosrael was for the Clayr(four) since she was wielded by Sanar and Ryelle, and Belgaer(three) for one of the wall makers.

I’ve always wondered though which one reperesented the royal line and which the second wallmaker line. Touchstone is king so it would make sense for his bell Ranna to be the royal line but also he was the one who repaired the great charter stone so wouldn’t that make him more in tune with the “stone and morter” wallmakers, or at least more then Ellimere. 

I’ve been wondering this for ages which one would Ranna be and which one would  Dyrim be?

Abhorsen Sabriel update.

The bells are nearly all done. I must admit, I’m doing this as and when i can, but i REALLY want to finish it properly, because i think its turning out quite nicely. I’m pleased with how i did the bells too, with the engraved patterns. originally i had a more complex theme in mind, but the simplicity of them means the details stand out more and makes them seem much more like a set.

but yeah, all around update, hope you like it so far :)

This fic got me thinking about a question raised a while back - how would the bells affect a deaf person?

I was thinking that perhaps the spells cast by ringing the bells are carried via sound, but they affect you even if you can’t hear that sound. Also, as they’re carried by sound, the power of the spells wanes over distance, which is why you can resist it the further you are from its source (as with Sabriel and Touchstone in the reservoir).



a mostly instrumental mix for The Yawning Grave, otherwise known as the Star Wars/Sabriel fusion that nobody asked for. A link to the fic will be posted in October, when I get to start posting!

i. prologue — richard gibbs // opening credits — john williams // a phantom on the horizon — trevor morris // ren in death — aliceffekt // the clayr  —   the moon and the nightspirit // the library — azan // the stilken — two steps from hell // saraneth sounds — bear mcreary // birth of kylo ren — trevor morris

ii. poe dameron — austin wintory // the first order — pawel blaszczak // the masked man — two steps from hell // caught — glass animals // finn — raury // escape — peter roe // the door — james newton howard // remembering — ramin djawadi // the bells — aivar mae & arsis handbell ensemble // the nine day’s watch — brad derrick // the upper ratterlin — gareth coker // finn alone — nox arcana // finn and rey — dirty elegance // dreams of ghosts — karliene // attack in death — immediate music // phasma — david newman // a man in the river — anne dudley // abhorsen’s house — adam skorupa // a birth, witnessed — javier navarrete // does the walker choose the path? — martin phipps and the mediaeval baebes // han and leia — allman brown and liz lawrence // snoke — darren korb //

iii. calm before the storm — lorne balfe // the queen in ancelstierre — ramin djawadi // smugglers — rise above // the well — infected mushroom // the steps — gareth coker // hands — lykke li // kylo ren dreams — lord huron // ren and rey — olafur arnalds // an extraction — henry jackman // my name is ben — harry gregson williams // torn apart — zack hemsey // a death — henry jackman // skywalker — austin wintory // mastering the bells — ants // abhorsen in waiting — florence & the machine // 

iv. rey — exercise in darkness // phantoms in ancelstierre — sneaker pimps // finn returns — kajiura yuki // the sacrifice — civil twilight // the weeper — clint mansell // into death — austin wintory // dueling saraneths — zella day // the ninth gate — suns and stars // family — patrick doyle // abhorsen — austin wintory // curtain call — celtic woman // baptism of the charter — marconi union // epilogue — jose gonzalez // end credits — florence & the machine // 

listen / read

The Clayr saw me, the Wallmaker made me, the King quenched me, Abhorsen wields me.

Guess what book series ive just started? If anyone is unsure, please pick up Sabriel and start reading, its really good! I’m not very far in, and this is toootally unfinished and rough but i like the composition, its just knowing how to render it, lighting, mood etc. but meh. Plus i apparently need to add keys onto the coat/tunic/robes. Also, the bells need to be varied sizes, and, well, ok its riddled with inaccuracies, but you’ll just have to forgive me.

so yeah, so fan-art that isn’t pokemon and isn’t monsters. such a rarity!

This is kind of a retrospective answer that I’ve come up with due to lots of readers wanting to know, I think it is probably accurate but it is a reconstruction. Way back when writing Sabriel in 1991 or thereabouts, I knew I wanted her and the Abhorsen family in general to be kind of anti-necromancers, who used necromantic magic — but not for evil and power, but to restore the natural order of things, to make sure the Dead stayed dead. I wanted this magic to be distinctive, not like anything that had gone before, and I was exploring various beliefs in different cultures and through history about how to deal with things coming back from death or evil spirits in general. One prominent example is exorcism “by bell, book and candle.” Candles didn’t sound too narratively exciting, magic books were all through so many fantasy books, but bells … bells feel magical anyway. Around the same time, I was reading Dorothy Sayer’s excellent murder mystery The Nine Tailors, which features named bells in a church. So I put together the idea of named bells with magic and shortly wrote down Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth and Astarael, and so the seven bells were born …