Nonetheless, it is Lirael in whose hands the fate of the Old Kingdom lies. She must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil, one that opposes the Royal Family, blocks the Sight of the Clayr, and threatens to break the very boundary between Life and Death itself. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog to help her, Lirael must find the courage to seek her own hidden destiny.
©2003 Garth Nix; (P)2003 Random House, Inc.
"A must-listen for fans of the first book, Lirael will also fascinate listeners new to the series." (School Library Journal)
This thread of the story is close enough to Sabriel to be an old friend, but far enough to be new and interesting. Excellent as sequels go, Lireal doesn't burden the returning reader with reruns of Sabriel. It's a great stand-alone story, too. Tim Curry is the kind of narrator who could enthrall by reading a cereal box.
Although I enjoyed the story -- a little disappointing that it wasn't a direct follow-on to the first story, but interesting none the less -- it almost seems like the author was feeling depressed, even despairing, while writing this book. A bit too much wallowing in self pity by the main characters for my taste. I've bought the next book, since I'm interested in the story, but I'm hoping there will be less slogging through morasses of "how horrible it all is! whatever will I do?" from the protagonists. I wanted to tell them to "snap out of it!" and to tell the narrator to just skip a few dozen paragraphs and get on with it. The first time I've wished for an abridged version of anything!
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
In Garth Nix' Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr (2001), the second novel in his Abhorsen trilogy, Touchstone and Sabriel are now the King and Abhorsen (anti-necromancer) of the Old Kingdom lying north of the Wall that separates their land of magic and pesky undead from the world of machines and countries in conflict (reminiscent of our early 20th century world). And things are not well in their Old Kingdom. An unknown "Enemy" is manipulating Necromancers into attacking villages with bands of undead "Hands" and "Shadowhands," while at Red Lake something ominous is happening that even the clairvoyant women of the Clayr are unable to see.
All fourteen-year-old Lirael wants is to gain the Sight like the other girls and women of the Clayr. Her black hair and brown eyes already mark her as too different the others, while her father is unknown and her mother abandoned her when she was a little girl. And each year on her birthday Lirael has grown older without gaining the Sight while increasingly younger girls have come into their own. Luckily, she is given a job as Third-Assistant Librarian in the nautilus shell-like ancient library of the Clayr, which suits the increasingly anti-social and magically curious girl. But poor Sameth, the teenage son of Touchstone and Sabriel, is pulled out of his elite boarding school south of the Wall and returned to the Palace at Bellisaere, where everyone expects him to train to succeed Sabriel as Abhorsen, when he is physically and mentally unable to even touch the Book of the Dead. Instead, he prefers fabricating magical "toys," like a nifty flying, mosquito-eating frog. Both young people are good young adult fantasy Ugly Ducklings: they believe that they are flawed and cannot fit in and yet are really gifted in ways destined to become appreciated.
Despite his young protagonists' morose moods, Nix writes his novel with humor and imagination. He has carefully constructed his magical world, in which most of the Free Magic that randomly pulses everywhere is ordered by the Charter, a seemingly infinite set of marks a bit like Chinese characters which adepts write on paper or in the air to make magic. Necromancers bypass the Charter to tap into Free Magic to do unnatural things like transform dead people into cannon fodder minions, while Charter Mages access it to protect the Kingdom, and the sole Abhorsen walks into Death (leaving his or her frosty body behind in the world) and then rings any of a set of seven bells to force the undead back down through the gates set in the river of Death till they reach their proper state.
Nix has great fun with that setting, imagining various nearly sentient magical books, constructs, sendings, spells, and artifacts. The most enjoyable such magical things in the novel are a pair of droll and mysterious talking "pets," the hungry, spunky, and loving Disreputable Dog, and the sarcastic, cynical, and sleepy white feline Mogget, both of whom are much more than they appear to be. The great thing about it all is that Nix often describes the magic with magical prose, vivid, sensual, and sublime, to evoke a sense of wonder, beauty, and terror (which are nearly absent from YA magical fantasy like the Harry Potter series).
Take, for example, the time Lirael loses control of a spell and "She tried to scream, but no sound came out, only Charter marks that leapt from her mouth towards the golden radiance. Charter marks continued to fly from her fingers, too, and swam in her eyes, spilling down inside her tears, which turned to steam as they fell." Even when nothing magical is happening, Nix may summon magic, as when Lirael is exploring the Library and finds herself in "a vast chamber, bigger even than the Great Hall. Charter marks as bright as the sun shone in the distant ceiling, hundreds of feet above. A huge oak tree filled the center of the room, in full summer leaf, its spreading branches shading a serpentine pool. And everywhere, throughout the cavern, there were flowers. Red flowers. Lirael bent down and picked one, uncertain if it was some sort of illusion. But it was real enough. She felt no magic, just the crisp stalk under her fingers. A red daisy, in full bloom."
And at his best, Nix writes suspenseful scenes that develop his world and characters and excite the reader, as when Lirael meets a stilken (a woman-shaped Free Magic entity with silver eyes and arms as long as her legs ending in the claws of a mantis), or when his heroes sail beneath a mile-wide bridge-city and are targeted by a crossbow bolt shooting assassin and a fiery Free Magic and swine-flesh construct masquerading as human.
When I read Lirael several years ago, I found it overlong and burdened by mopey characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the audiobook version, largely thanks to the virtuoso reading of Tim Curry. He deftly balances on the Edge of Too Much, reading with infectious relish lines by foul necromancers gloating over how they're about to kill you or Disreputable mongrels getting ready to sink their teeth into your calf to snap you out of your funk or snarky magical cats asking for fish after just failing to help save your skin. And isn't there a hint of Dr. Frank N. Furter in his Mogget?
Sabriel is a fresher and more self-contained book, whereas Lirael really makes part one of a duology completed by the third volume in the "trilogy," Abhorsen. But fans of imaginative and dark young adult magical fantasy and of Tim Curry should enjoy this book.
If you read or listened to Sabriel (the first of this series), I would heartily reccomend that you listen to this book as well. The story is not as fast paced as the first, but the characters come alive during the course of the story. Sam and Lirael are both flawed, but that is what makes them interesting and real.
The ending will certainly leave you wanted more, but luckily the next book in line is waiting for you to download. Ah...The information age when everything you want can be instantly granted for you. Happy Listening.
Grandma bibliophile! Audible books make reading with an active life possible.
I liked this story! Maybe not as well as the first and the third, but I really felt sorry for Lirael. She really seems an outcast, and maybe a little whiney at first until she creates/obtains her "dog" companion and becomes a little more independent and adventurous. Sam is a little too scarred by his encounter too. The second half of the book is much better than the first.
Tim Curry as usual is fantastic! I actually had to get this one and the third because once I start a "series" I have to finish. I'm glad I got this one, it is probably not my favorite in the series because it has a hanging ending, but since I could immediately go to book 3 it was OK. ;-)
It was delightful to revisit the series that my twelve-year-old self counted as my absolute favorite of all time. I cannot think of a more talented or appropriate narrator for this book than Tim Curry. Between the excellent prose and Curry's performance, this familiar coming-of-age tale took on a new level of greatness. What I love most about Lireal is Nix's ability to portray a strong, but fallible human being who goes through the same insecurities that we all face while taking on impossible odds. The world of fantasy constructed by Nix is further explored and illuminated in this novel, and if anything, this sequel is better than its predecessor, Sabriel, which is also excellent. I would recommend it to readers of all ages because this book, and series, is one of the most artfully crafted, enthralling, and lingering fantasies I've ever encountered.
I loved every minute of this book. The characters were just jumping out at me and as crazy as it sounds even 'Dog' was believable, but I guess that is just one of Garth Nix's gifts. He has an amazing way of making magical things seem absolutely lifelike. If you liked the first book 'Sabriel', I urge you to continue with the trilogy and give this one a shot.
Lirael takes too long to grow the character into adulthood. But its a necessary read betwewen Sabriel and Abhorsen. Listen and move on - Abhorssen is better - moves faster and all the plot lines started here resolve.
If you liked "Sabriel" then "Lireal" is an absolute must. And you may as well download the series finale "Abhorsen" while you're at it because you won't be able to walk away.
Garth Nix delivers another winner and, while I normally don't like it when a man narrates a female point-of-view, I barely notice when it's the remarkable Tim Curry!
If it where good? The story was boring the character I did not care about. I just couldn't get into this series. I have over 300 audio books and heard good things about Garth Nix but this series is just not good.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.