My Kyrosmagica Review of Abhorsen by Garth Nix

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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!

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 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,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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My Kyrosmagica review of Garth Nix’s Lirael

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Goodreads synopsis:

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr’s birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

In this sequel to Sabriel, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, New York Times best-selling author Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger.

My review:

This wonderful trilogy was introduced to me on Goodreads via the Hot Key books Old Kingdom READ-ALONG.

It is quite fascinating how Garth Nix fast forwarded the essential elements of the story many years into the future, rather than continuing Sabriel and Touchstone’s more youthful story. We are introduced to Lirael, a young woman who wants desperately to be accepted as a Clayr,  yet she is lacking in one important quality that the Clayr must possess. Each year she grows older but the ability to see into the future, which is a coming of age gift of the Clayr, bypasses her. Lirael can’t help but feel excluded, an outsider, overgrown, useless, lonely and ultimately desperate.

Unable to bare her wretched existence a day longer she decides to commit suicide by flinging herself off of  the glacier, a  dramatic attention seeking act! But she is thwarted  by her own fear and by an unexpected interruption. We are re-introduced to the Abhorsen Sabriel, and King  Touchstone but the two main characters of the previous novel play a much smaller part in this second novel.  Instead of killing herself Lirael  discovers a sense of purpose in the quiet duties of a Librarian, learns Charter magic, and creates the magnificent Disreputable dog a Free Magic creature infused with Charter Magic. If you loved Mogget, an ancient Free Magic cat construct  of unknown origin bound by a red Charter magic collar to serve the Abhorsen, you’ll love the dog. These two furry characters are just so amusing. Loved them both! Their banter is just so on point.

So the adventure continues and what an entertaining ride it is. Along the way we meet Sameth, Sabriel and Touchstone’s son, who is overwhelmed by his princely duties as Abhorsen in waiting. He would prefer to construct toys to catch insects than stare into the eyes of evil Necromancers and who can blame him? He feels inadequate, and the efficiency of his sister Ellimere  just makes him feel even more useless and paranoid.  There are interesting parallels between Sameth and Lirael, but the way in which they deal with overcoming obstacles are quite different. Lirael is without a doubt the stronger character. It is interesting how Garth Nix writes strong female characters but his male characters tend to be a bit lacking and not quite up to the task! All in all, I really enjoyed the character of Lirael, I warmed to her straight away. Sameth was a bit pathetic at times but he grew on me! Even when he tries his best to escape trouble he just seems to walk deeper into its clutches!

The ending came as a bit of a surprise but maybe I should have seen it coming!

Overall, I would highly recommend Lirael to readers of Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, and Adventure.

My rating:

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Have you read Lirael? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Garth Nix’s Sabriel

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Goodreads Synopsis

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

My review:

I joined the Old Kingdom Readalong via Hot Key Books on Goodreads rather late on, so it was a case of catching up. First impressions, Sabriel excited me and disappointed me. The first half of the book was so rich in descriptive prose that it couldn’t help but slow down the pace of the novel and I felt it dragged a bit. Though, having said that I couldn’t help but admire Garth Nix’s magical powers. Yes I’m sure he has them. His descriptions are just so vivid, and well amazing. My response was contrary, I loved his descriptive passages yet I longed for events to happen more swiftly. Also I had a little bit of trouble initially connecting to the characters. I think this was most probably because Garth Nix needed to devote quite a lot of time to developing the system of magic that is so central to the plot. There are two main kinds of magic, Charter Magic and Free Will.  Charter Magic is of the benevolent kind, whereas Free Will is not. Free Magic is employed by necromancers who defy the Charter by bringing dead bodies to life. Only Sabriel’s father, the Abhorsen uses Charter and Free Magic together to return the dead to their rightful place.

The addition of Mogget the talking cat was a big plus for me, being a bit of a cat lover, I just loved Mogget! He seemed to have the most developed character of all the protagonists with his sarcastic and often witty comments. I found Touchstone a bit wooden! Well maybe this is to be expected considering his background! Though I did laugh at the manner in which Garth Nix introduced him into the story. A bit of nudity added a refreshing element to the story! I welcomed the romantic chemistry that started to develop between Sabriel and Touchstone. Hey somebody has to enliven this wooden guy and I’m sure Sabriel has the tools to do so! But Touchstone’s rapid love interest in Sabriel, could have been developed a bit more, to me it seemed a bit over the top. Hey, this guy de thawed way too quick!

The novel is set in two contrasting countries, Ancelstierre in the south, and The Old Kingdom in the north.  But the two neighbourhoods couldn’t be more different. In Ancelstierre magic is seen as superstition. In the school that Sabriel attends  the basics of magic are begrudgingly recognised and taught. Sabriel is a student at Wyverley College, a boarding school for girls on the Ancelstierre side of the Wall, close to the border of The Old Kingdom. There she studies the usual subjects plus a dash of Magic too. Her father, the Abhorsen, pays a visit to see her once or twice a year. He sets about training her to bind the dead so they don’t come back to inhabit life using The Book of the Dead, Charter Magic and Bells. Sabriel’s father doesn’t turn up for his customary visit, and the book opens. Instead a dead sending comes with a message for her. Her father is trapped in death. Now Sabriel is given the title Abhorsen-in waiting, the responsibility to set the world of the Old Kingdom to rights, and rescue her father. All at the tender age of eighteen. So the adventure begins. Sabriel learns that her father is an Abhorsen, a good Necromancer who lays dead creatures to rest and stops them feeding on the living. Sabriel finds that her rudimentary magical  training at Wyverley College leaves her ill equipped for the task ahead. She feels all of the naivety of her eighteen years but carries on regardless and never gives up. Luckily she is equipped with powerful, magical tools to help her on her journey where she must learn the Abhorsen’s duty to step into Death and bind harmful spirits who desire to cheat death.  She is only able to do this by developing a detailed understanding of the Charter marks, and mastering the seven bells that assist the necromancer’s trade by helping command the dead.

There are a lot of different concepts of death to get to grips with,  all of which are pretty imaginative and sometimes quite gory. Death doesn’t just happen and that’s it. No it is a pretty detailed process, your spirit has to pass through nine gates until it is finally laid to rest.  But of course some of the recently dead aren’t too keen on remaining dead and they do their utmost to fight their way out of death by inhabiting a recently dead body or else they serve as a servant of a  Necromancer.

It is a fine example of a coming of age story. Sabriel grows and develops as the story unfolds. This aspect of the novel I really enjoyed.

Would I like to read more? Yes, I think I would like to see how this develops in the second book, Lirael.  I have a feeling that now that I have got to grips with the magical world of the Old Kingdom I may just enjoy it even more!

The ending was definitely a highlight for me. I was reading the last few pages as I was waiting for my daughter, she was in her gymnastics class. Anyway, she came out before I finished! So I had to stop! Needless to say I finished the rest of the book when I got back home. Oh and there is an Epilogue too, thank heavens!

Recommended for readers of YA, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Science Fiction Fantasy, High Fantasy, and Romance.

Award information via Wikipedia: Sabriel won the Aurealis Award for best young-adult novel and best fantasy novel in 1995.[1] It is also an ALA Notable Book and was a short-list nominee for the 1996 Ditmar Award for best long fiction.

Authors website: http://www.garthnix.com/

My rating:

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Have you read Sabriel? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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