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Monday, January 21, 2013


Lirael by Garth Nix.

*Spoilers to follow. Read at your own risk.*

This book is a sequel to Sabriel but it's more of a huge run-up to Abhorsen, the third book in the trilogy. Lirael builds the main conflict but never resolves until, I'm guessing, the third book. That being said I did enjoy the journey that the two main characters, Lirael and Sameth, go on and it did have some twists I was not expecting.

Lirael and her Disreputable Dog

Lirael is a young woman who desperately wants Sight. She is the daughter of a Clayr woman and lives with the Clayr. The Clayr are a group made up nearly entirely of women, who live in a snowy mountain called the Clayr's Glacier, located in the northern part of the Old Kingdom. The Clayr are all Charter mages in possession of the Sight, the ability to see glimpses of possible futures. They combine their powers occasionally in order to have a better view of the future, something that is called the Nine Day Watch. The Glacier is also home to the Great Library of the Clayr, which is a library filled with many lost treasures and horrors. It is in this library that the first part of the book takes place. In order to give her a purpose, Lirael has permission to work in the library as a librarian. Here she learns many things from getting into trouble with monsters and reading many of the forbidden and hard to find books.

Using Charter Magic and Free Magic Lirael creates a companion for herself, the Disreputable Dog. This dog becomes Lirael's greatest friend and constant companion. She acts just like a real dog but at the same time is entirely impossible. At one point in the story Dog makes an evil spirit walk back into Death by barking, using her bark like the Abhorsen bells to bind the spirit. So we know she has power beyond what Dog shows us here in Lirael. But we never learn what she is entirely. Dog says she was there at the beginning of magic and even explains some of the finer points of magic, both Free and Charter. Thus Dog complicates her story by being a mysterious Magic creature that is trustworthy and protective of her mistress, Lirael.

Sameth is the younger child of Sabriel and Touchstone. He is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. But there is just one problem. After going into Death to confront this book's overall evil one, a necromancer named Hedge, Sam is so afraid of Death he refuses to set foot there again until it is his own time to die. Sam prefers to make things, gadgets and toys, using Charter magic. Lirael is very surprised to find that Sam is a very powerful Charter mage. For one so young he seems to be very in control of at least that aspect of his life.

Lirael and Sam meet because he ran away from his duties as Abhorsen-in-Waiting to go rescue his school friend, Nick. Sam quickly realizes that he is way out of his league when it comes to dealing with the Dead. Lirael leaves the safety of the Glacier because the Nine Day Watch Saw her with Nick on a boat. The only possible future. So Lirael sets off to find Nick too. Along the way she finds Sameth and Mogget, who has once again left the Abhorsen's House to help the Abhorsen, in this case the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. Since it is the fastest way to travel and running water repels the Dead, Lirael leaves the glacier taking a boat. It is on this river that Lirael meets Sameth for the first time. Sameth was on the river to escape the Dead that were chasing him. In the boat, Lirael and Sam and their companions, Dog and Mogget, float down the river toward the Red Lake that is their destination.

The bad guy in Lirael is a a necromancer named Hedge. We don't know much about him. He has been putting this plan of his together for years. Nick, Sam's friend, is in league with Hedge but not of his accord. Nick is possessed by a very evil Spirit whom we learn is trying to come back into Life by any means possible. Nick is a unknowing host to this unnamed Spirit. We know that Hedge serves this creature. All of his mischief is created for the unfortunate benefit of Sabriel and Touchstone and those that oppose the Greater Spirits. To keep them out of his way he creates scenarios to draw them to far off places. Hedge and his followers keep them busy. Sabriel and her family start to suspect that something beyond their power is falling into place and they try and do all they can to stop it. Having an Abhorsen-in-Waiting is really helpful to everyone but Sam is afraid of his duties.

*Super spoiler coming up.*

Lirael has always wondered about her lineage. She knows who her mother was but didn't spend very much time with her. Her mother left the Glacier when Lirael was five years old and died that same year. Lirael never knew anything about her father. While exploring in the Library Lirael finds a path that is meant for her, created by a Clayr long ago. She takes the path and in turn finds a room with three things inside. A book, panpipes, and a mirror. The book is called Book of Remembrance and Forgetting, which is similar to the Abhorsens' Book of the Dead. It teaches her about the art of a Remembrancer. With the accompanying Dark Mirror and pipes she comes to the realization that she might never be destined for the Sight but for seeing the Past. Lirael uses the Dark Mirror and her knowledge to look into the Past to find out who her father really was. She doesn't know her father at first but when Sameth and herself reach the Abhorsens' house she recognizes the main dining hall. It is then that Mogget reveals that she is the true Abhorsen-in-Waiting. Lirael is indeed the Daughter of a Clayr (her mother) and the Daughter of an Abhorsen (her father). As an Abhorsen she can bind and banish the Dead. And as the first Remembrancer in a hundred years she can look into the Past. The twist I was not expecting is that Lirael's father is in fact Sabriel's father making the two of them half-sisters. Thus also making her in Aunt to Sameth and his older sister Ellimere. I believe that as Free Magic creatures both Mogget and the Disreputable Dog knew about her heritage long before Lirael ever did.

Lirael ends with that thrilling twist but overall the plot in this book was very mild. They have minor, separate adventures which lead to them joining forces when they meet on the river. The float down to the Abhorsens' house. Lirael finds out who she really is. Then the book ends with the reader finding out Nick is possessed with the Spirit of Hedge's master. This book did a lot of setting up for the third book in the series. But I still really enjoyed the journey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lirael was my favourite book when I was about 15 and it still (after 8 years) fascinates me. I just read it and the next book, Abhorsen, which starts right where Lirael ends (they were meant to be one book). Have you thought of reading it? (At the end you will know what the Disreputable Dog is... )
Anyway. I found your blog randomly when searching the picture you have. My blog is in Finnish, I don't know if you understand it.