The Bells (Old Kingdom)

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The Necromancer's Bells are a set of seven bells which play a pivotal role in the Old Kingdom series of books by Garth Nix. They are used both by the Abhorsen and the Necromancers, and can either bind or raise the dead. The Book of the Dead stresses with most of the bells there are unintended and dangerous consequences if the wielder is improperly trained. They are named after the Seven Bright Shiners who formed the Charter.[1]

The Abhorsen's set of bells are silver with mahogany handles. They are also infused with Charter Magic to offset the necromantic Free Magic used to create them. The necromancers' sets are often made of bronze or silver with handles of ebony or bone, and empowered solely by Free Magic.

Summary of the Bells[edit]

  • Ranna the Sleeper is the smallest of the Bells. It is used to bind Mogget after the events of Sabriel, and is wielded by King Touchstone in the second binding of Orannis.[2] Nothing terrible happens if its ringer makes an error. It is forged in the First Precinct of Death.
  • Mosrael the Waker's purpose is to call the dead back to Life, with the compromise of throwing the wielder into Death. Due to its special use by Necromancers, it is not featured significantly in the books except where the Clayr twins Sanar and Ryelle wielded it against Orannis. It is forged in the Second Precinct of Death.
  • Kibeth the Walker can give the Dead movement or force them through the gates of Death, but it can also take control of the wielder. It is also represented by the Disreputable Dog. It is forged in the Fourth Precinct of Death.
  • Dyrim the Speaker gives the Dead a voice, or removes that of the living. Ellimere, the sister of Prince Sameth, holds this bell in the binding of Orannis. It might be forged in the Fifth Precinct of Death.
  • Belgaer the Thinker can give a Dead spirit its memories, and give independent thought, but can just as easily erase either. Belgaer was rung by Prince Sameth in the final events of Abhorsen. It might be forged in the Sixth Precinct of Death.
  • Saraneth the Binder is the favorite of necromancers in the story, in that it forces obedience from the Dead. Sabriel wields it when binding Orannis. It might be forged in the Seventh Precinct of Death.
  • Astarael the Sorrowful, when rung properly, sends all its auditors into death- the ringer included.[1] Lirael holds this bell in the second binding. It is used by the Abhorsen Terciel to pull Kerrigor back into death, to give Sabriel time to cross the Wall and destroy Kerrigor's physical body. It might be forged in the Eighth Precinct of Death.

The Pipes[edit]

The pipes are a syrinx of functions identical to those of the bells, designed for the Abhorsen-in-Waiting to use until proficient. Lirael gains them in the eponymous book, but gives them to Sameth after realizing that she could handle the bells and he could not. At the binding of Orannis, Sameth uses the pipes to create Lirael's sword.


  1. ^ a b Nix, Garth. Sabriel. Collins. p. 65.
  2. ^ Nix, Garth. Abhorsen. Collins.