Sabriel is a citizen of the Old Kingdom, but her father sent her south of the Wall when she was a child. Until she was eighteen she attended an Ancelstierrean school, where she became a prefect. In her last weeks at the school a messanger from Death came to her with her father's sword and bells, which she knew he would never have given up unless he was dead or soon to be.
This was one of the first young adult books I ever read, for I came late into the section- I was around eleven and, needless to say, I thought it was a pretty cool book and decided these young adult books might not be so bad after all. I finished the series and then started it again when I was a bit older and, having begun reading it for a third time, am delighted to find it is still wonderful. I bought Sabriel to read it again, and was glad to find a copy with a normal cover- for those of you who have not seen the new ones, they're awful.
I highly recommend this to just about anyone- it's not a girl book or a guy book.