My Kyrosmagica Review of Abhorsen by Garth Nix


Goodreads Synopsis:

The Ninth was strong and fought with might, But lone Orannis was put out of the light, Broken in two and buried under hill, Forever to lie there, wishing us ill. So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.

Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.

To make matters worse, Sam’s best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.

Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer.

Before it is too late.

My Review:

Abhorsen smashed it for me, I just loved it. Garth Nix does a wonderful job building tension, and plot rather than getting side tracked by the somewhat wooden romance that we saw between Sabriel and Touchstone in the first novel.  In Abhorsen Garth Nix’s writing flows effortlessly, its lyrical quality drawing the reader into a story that begins slowly but builds momentum to a fast paced, fantasy adventure and stunning conclusion. Sabriel introduces us to the Old Kingdom, Lirael fills us in on the details, and Abhorsen magnificently wraps up this wonderful trilogy in a near perfect parcel!

Abhorsen is the concluding novel in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy. Nix has already introduced us to the fantasy world of the Old Kingdom with Sabriel, and Lirael. Abhorsen is followed by Nix’s recent prequel Clariel.  Currently I believe it is intended to be a five book long series.  I would recommend that you read all three books, in the Old Kingdom series (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen), consecutively one after another, or without a large break in between, otherwise you might struggle to remember certain details from Lirael that are important to your understanding of Abhorsen.

In Abhorsen, Hedge, a Necromancer  intends to awaken Orannis the Destroyer,  with the help of Chlorr–a Greater Dead creature–and Sam’s poor, best friend Nick, who is unaware that he is the host avatar of the Destroyer. The Destroyer is the Ninth Bright Shiner, the most evil magical force or being. Lirael does not know how, but she has to find a way to stop Orannis. Everything Lirael has learned up until this point will be put to the supreme test as she must find a way to bind the Destroyer.

There is a heck load of tension, as Lirael and her band of friends race to defeat Hedge and Orannis. They must join together and conjure up all the magic they can find to stand up to and defeat an enemy that seems undefeatable, and threatens not only the Charter but all living things, and the fabric of life itself. The final part of the novel is the best and most moving part of the book, with the beautiful descriptions of  Lirael’s journey through Death to use the Dark Mirror, to the final conflict with Orannis when all the heroes stand together as one to defeat Orannis.

I loved Lirael. Without doubt Lirael almost seems unrecognisable as we knew her before, she embraces everything she has learnt and though she may be quivering inside, she acts, sounds, and behaves like an Abhorsen-in-waiting. Wow, I just loved this about her. I think that I have said this before but it is well worth repeating, Garth Nix really knows how to create strong female characters,  and Lirael is almost unrecognisable in this novel from the insecure girl we knew as the ex-assistant librarian in the second novel, Lirael. Lirael,  and Prince Sameth develop in this novel and in a good way, both of them are up against it and instead of backing down, they measure up to the task in hand. Lirael has accepted her role as Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with all the responsibilities that title entails.   Sam also benefits from character development, although I would say that more time and effort is spent on Lirael and rightly so.

In Lirael Prince Sameth expects to be the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, heir to the powers of ‘The Book of the Dead’ and the seven bells, but instead he discovers that this role is meant for Lirael, and not just that but he discovers that Lirael is his aunt. In Abhorsen we discover that Sam destiny’s  is to be a Wallmaker.

I adored Disreputable Dog and Mogget. But, the relationship between Disreputable dog and Lirael became a focal point in Abhorsen and it really pulled at my heartstrings, whereas Mogget, in typical cat fashion appeared a bit aloof, until the bitter end! Cats, love them but you know what they’re like, independent souls! Loyalty tends to be a quality associated with a dog rather than a cat. No more about Mogget as I don’t want to spoil the novel’s conclusion for you.

So highly recommended, a favourite of mine, so anything less than 5 stars would be an insult!


 Apparently, Garth Nix chose the name referencing “Abhorsen”, the executioner in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.


Favourite quotes:

“Time and death sleep side by side.”

“For everyone and everything, there is a time to die. Some do not know it, or would delay it, but its truth cannot be denied. Not when you look into the stars of the ninth gate.”

“This? It’s a feather-coin. I made it.’
‘What is it for?’
‘It isn’t for anything. It’s a toy.’
‘It’s for annoying people,’ said Mogget from Sam’s pack. ‘If you don’t put it away, I shall eat it.”

“Together, the bells and Dog sang a song that was more than sound and power. It was the song of the earth, the moon, the stars, the sea, and the sky, of Life and Death and all that was and would be. It was the song of the Charter, the song that had bound Orannis in the long ago, the song that sought to bind the Destroyer once again

Sam picked up his pack, but before he could put it on, Mogget leaped onto it and slid under the top flap. All that could be seen of him were his green eyes and one white-furred ear.
“Remember I advised against this way,” he instructed. “Wake me when whatever terrible thing is a about to happen happens, or if it appears I might get wet.”

“Nick shook his head and found to his surprise that he did have tears left after all. He wasn’t surprised by a talking cat. The world was crumbling around him and anything could happen.”

“As for you, Private, if you mention a word of this to anyone, I’ll feed you to the cat thing here. Understand?”
“Yum,” said Mogget.
“Yes, sir!” mumbled the telephone operator, his hands shaking as he tried to smother the burning wreckage of his switchboard with a fire blanket.”

Have you read Abhorsen? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,


Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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