Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review- Lirael and Abhorsen

So I recently completed the Abhorsen Chronicles which is the second series out of my list of ten series to finish before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 comes out. In case you don't know, I've embarked on a hefty reading project and you can read all about it under the "Post Potter Challenge" tab, but just to put it briefly, I am looking for a series to cure my Post-Potter Depression before the final installment to the Harry Potter franchise comes out this summer. I got ten possible candidates (you can see them listed under the Post Potter Challenge tab) and The Abhorsen Chronicles was the second one I've completed. The books in this series are as follows: Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. I've already got my review for Sabriel up and you can read it here. This review will be going over Lirael and Abhorsen.

So Lirael and Abhorsen are very much two parts to the same book so it's appropriate I review them together. Lirael takes place fourteen years after the end of Sabriel and at this point, Sabriel and Touchstone have married and Touchstone has been restored as the king of the Old Kingdom and together, they are bringing stability to the country. Sabriel, the Abhorsen, is often away putting the dead back into death and stopping them from reeking havoc among the country's citizens. Sabriel and Touchstone both sense something bad brewing under the Red Lake and ask for the Clayr to use their Sight to see what it could be; however the Clayr's sight seems to be blocked in this particular area. This book switches gears away from Sabriel and Touchstones story and we get two new characters: Lirael and Sam. Lirael is a daughter of the Clayr living the Clayr's glacier and Sam is the son of Sabriel and Touchstone as well as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, attending school in Ancelstierre. The book starts off with Lirael waking up on her 14th birthday and the girl is sopping emo. Unlike other Clayrs, Lirael had black hair and is pale instead of being blond and tan. Lirael is upset because she's got no mom, she doesn't know who her dad is, and has yet to be awakened (be given the gift of Sight). Clayr's often are awakened around the time they're eleven and it's unheard of for a daughter of the Clayr to be fourteen and without Sight. To keep herself distracted from depression, she begins working as a Library Assistant in the Clayr's Library and makes it a task to explore all the hidden and ancient areas of the Library. Lirael calls upon the Disreputable Dog to accompany her on these adventures and to be her a lifelong loyal friend.

We fast forward five years later and we are introduced to Prince Sameth. Sam is attending school in Ancelstierre at the time and is about to graduate. One night, him and his cricket team are on a bus heading back to school when they crash near the Wall. At the Wall, Sam and his team are attacked by a horde of Dead Hands and Sam enters death in order to find and stop the Necromancer who is summoning them. In Death, he meets the necromancer Hedge who badly injures Sam physically and spiritually. Sam's father Touchstone brings him back to the Old Kingdom to the safety of their palace. There, Touchstone and Sabriel explain to Sam and his sister Ellimere that the Ancelstierran government is sending Southerling refugees into the Old Kingdom and in turn, the refugees are being killed by the dead. Sabriel and Touchstone must travel to Ancelstierre to sort out the matter and figure out what part it plays in what they believe to be a greater threat. In the meantime they task Ellimere to take charge of the kingdom while Sam begins his Abhorsen training. Sam becomes deathly afraid of becoming the Abhorsen after his encounter with Hedge and shy's away from his training. Instead of training, he leaves the Kingdom on the account of his own affairs. At this time, Lirael is now nineteen and still working in the Clayr's library with the Disreputable Dog along side her. Her and dog, while exploring the deeper parts of the library, discover a set of artifacts left for her by a Clayr who saw her several hundreds of years before. The artifacts that have been left for Lirael are a set of tools for a Rememberancer (one who can look into the past). After discovering the gifts left for her, the heads of the Clayr clan quicklu dispatch Lirael off on a boat after they recently received a vision of Lirael on a boat near the Red Lake.

In my effort to keep my summary short, I'll just end it with this. Sam and Lirael eventually cross paths and the two begin to travel together. Together, they both learn the greater task at hand here and what must be done to stop what basically is the end of the world. By the time we begin book three, Abhorsen, we are on our way to the final battle. Lirael and Sam are on they're way to stop the greater evil at hand here and Sabriel and Touchstone have gone missing during their visit to Ancelstierre in an assassination attempt. Coming towards the end of the trilogy, we get to see everything come together so perfectly in an epic final battle. The final few pages are heart pounding and gripping and ends with an incredible band. I can't recall the last book I read that ended so utterly-epicly. Ahhhh, it was perfection.

If you haven't guessed by now, I loved this series. Garth Nix is a beauuuuuuutiful writer and knows how to write very likeable characters. Lirael is the real star of this series. I wondered how Nix was going to top Sabriel's character after book one but he did it with Lirael. As much as I loved Sabriel, I found Lirael to be the better heroine in this series. Sabriel, in a way, was just too perfect. She is so incredibly heroic and stoic so she was harder for me to relate to. Lirael on the other hand, was more like a Bridget Jones type character. She feel likes an idiot most of the time and second to all the other Clayr girls in the glacier, yet she has many admirable and brave characteristics. I also loved her friend the Disreputable Dog; an incredibly loyal and loving friend for Lirael. A great counter character for the aloof and dubious Mogget.

Everything we understand and know about the Charter and the history of the Old Kingdom comes together so perfectly by the end of the series. The magic and fantasy aspects of the series are used to the point that their needed and is not fluffed up. I enjoyed being able to see all nine gates of Death in the final installment, whereas we only got to gate four in the first book. I also liked see the mix and clash of Ancelstierre technology and Old Kingdom magic that we didn't get in the first book. Again, the best part is the wonderfully written characters ingeniously created by Mr. Nix. I adore character driven books and this series is definitely one of them. You will fall in love with Sabriel and Touchstone in the first book, and fall even deeper in love with Lirael and Sam in the second two books. I can't wait to make my way around to reading the rest of Garth Nix's books. I highly, highly recommend this series.

Lirael- 10/10

Abhorsen- 10/10

1 comment:

  1. This book was a great ending to the trilogy, it definitely tied all three books together and explained more about the essence of the Charter, the nine beings. However, some aspects are still vague (ex: how does each charter being correspond to the bell and to each character during the binding). Nix leaves plenty of room to imagination and interpretation and I believe it's part of the fun of reading this series. I look forward to reading the fourth and fifth book, supposedly the fifth about Chlorr comes out next month!