Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

**In giving my reviews and synopses of these three books, I do give away some spoilers, mainly regarding the second book. So if you are planning on reading the books, don't read my synopsis of the final book, Abhorsen, as that is where the spoilers are.**
The Abhorsen Trilogy begins with Sabriel. In this book we are introduced to the world Nix has created, where the Old Kingdom and Charter Magic are separated from the rest of Ancelstierre by The Wall. Only those who live close to The Wall even believe the tales of magic and the Old Kingdom, but they have good reason for knowing the truth. It has been decades since things were right in the Old Kingdom - the Dead are restless, and it is the Abhorsen's job to make sure they stay dead. Sabriel's father is the Abhorsen, and while she has been living at a school in Ancelstierre, he has begun to train her to follow him. When her father goes missing, she travels beyond the Wall by herself to discover what happened to him. There she meets Mogget - a being in cat form who is a servant to the Abhorsens, and Touchstone - a young man, also trained in Charter Magic, who she frees from imprisonment. Together they must stop the Dead trying to take over the Old Kingdom, and restore it to its former life.
Lirael is the second book of the trilogy, skipping 15 years or so into the future to follow the story of Lirael, a Daughter of the Clayr. Lirael is 14 when the story begins, but she has yet to receive the sight that is the birthright of all the Clayr. She has long felt alone, since her mother's death before her tenth birthday, and as is common among the Clayr, she has no knowledge of who her father is. In order to keep her mind off her anguish at not yet receiving the sight, she begins work in the Clayr's library, as a Third Assistant Librarian. It is in the library that she begins to teach herself the use of Charter Magic, and although she still does not gain the sight, she gains a companion, the Disreputable Dog, and discovers a destiny that will send her into the world, away from the life she has known with the Clayr. In the course of her journey, she discovers not only her true calling, but she becomes involved in a new plot against the Abhorsen Sabriel and the Old Kingdom. In Lirael, we also meet Prince Sameth, the son of Sabriel and Touchstone, who has gotten himself involved in the plot as well. His older sister Ellimere is the heir to the throne, making him the Abhorsen's heir. He too must discover his true calling, and find his destiny alongside Lirael.
Abhorsen is the third book in the trilogy, and it begins right where Lirael left off. We discover at the end of Lirael that Lirael herself is the true Abhorsen-In-Waiting, as she is Sabriel's unknown little sister. Prince Sameth has a calling from the Wallbuilders, something that has not been seen in memory. Together they continue their quest to stop the Necromancer Hedge from raising the Destroyer, and to save Sam's friend Nick, who has been unknowingly swept into Hedge's power. They are helped along the way by Mogget and the Disreputable Dog, and interesting pair, but they will both be crucial to success in the end.
I really loved this series - I recommend it to every fantasy lover that I know, or that needs recommendations at the library. It was published as young adult fantasy, but it is definitely good enough for adult reading. The world that Nix has created is so different from that of most fantasies, and the characters are rich and complex, causing the reader to really become a part of the story while reading. I actually liked the character of Lirael better than Sabriel, alhtough it is difficult to say why. So far there is only a short story following the final book in the trilogy, but I would love to continue reading about the Abhorsen's world. If you haven't read these yet, you should. I hear the audiobook version is excellent as well, with Tim Curry narrating.


Jeane said...

I love these books. I would be so ecstatic if there was a fourth one.

Jessica said...

Have you seen Across the Wall? It has a short story that follows Lirael and Nick, I think. Here's the goodreads link. I haven't read it yet.

Penny said...

I have Sabriel on my TBR shelf, but haven't started it yet. After your review, I'm thinking I'll have to start it soon! (I only read the one for Sabriel, because I didn't want any spoilers) :)

Jessica said...

Oh good! I'm glad I put the spoiler comment at the top. I wouldn't want to ruin anything for you!