Review: Lirael by Garth Nix. Book Two in the Abhorsen series.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Title: Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: fantasy, young-adult
Series: Abhorsen #2
Published: 2001
Pages: 705
Rating: 5/5

Lively and absorbing, brimming with imagination and an utterly engaging plot. Suspense, sheer curiosity, genuine creepiness, unsettling creatures, along with unseen twists and turns make this a hard-to-put-down book. One of the best young-adult fantasy books I have ever read; better, even, than its predecessor Sabriel.
I preferred Lirael as a protagonist compared to Sameth AND to Sabriel from the first book. Both Lirael and Sabriel were orphaned without really having known parents, have help from magical creatures that mix Charter and Free Magic and both are very magically talented themselves. However, Sabriel always felt slightly removed and distant, hardly showing emotions, a very self-contained character that was hard for me to connect with; Lirael, in the beginning seems like an improved Sabriel with more

personality and personal problems. Like Sabriel, Lirael is a strong, determined, inquisitive female character; one that pushes herself ever further to learn magic, to explore and grow. She is a very engaging and sympathetic main character. The time the book spends with Lirael in the Library is the best, most compelling part of the novel. Sameth felt a bit two-dimensional as the token Prince with magical ability. His interactions with Lirael were lively and fun to read. He seems slightly unreliable and constantly teetering from scared to terrified. He is realistic and believable, just really annoying as well. It was nice to see the girl being the brave, resourceful hero instead of the typical prince.
The magic system that depends on the bandolier that was introduced in the first book is, once again, an important part of the story, however, much more insight is given in regard to the gifts of the Clayr than the passing mentions from book one. Though Sight is a common magical element in many fantasy stories and novels, Nix's is unique with the formation of the Nine Day Watch and how the female-dominated Clayr view their precognitions.
The ending is abrupt. It slightly weakens the narrative, and makes Lirael more of a bridge between the first and last than an independent book, but not to a drastic measure. Read this series.

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