Series Review: The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix


The Abhorsen Trilogy written by Garth Nix tells the story of two separete kingdoms: The Old Kingdom, situated in a medieval era, where ancient magic is practised daily, the risen dead roam the earth and century-old prophecies might be fulfilled, and Ancelstierre, set in what can be compared to our 1920’s with technology, weapons and an army to protect the Wall separating both Kingdoms. In book one, Sabriel, we meet the only daughter of the current Abhorsen who, guess what, is called Sabriel. After the latter finds out her father has been kidnapped by one of the Dead, she vows to rescue him. In a desparate attempt to do so, she travels all the way to the Old Kingdom, learns more about her inheritage than she oughts possible and finds true love in the form of Touchstone, a Prince of the Kingdom who has been missing for over two centuries. With the aid of Mogget, a charismatic and sarcastic Abhorsen familiar who looks like a cat, Sabriel must stop this evil from rising and from destroying the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre. But the price might be very high…

In the second book in the series, Lirael, we meet with a daughter of the Clayr who is already in her late teens and has not yet developed the ability to See the future. Frustrated and lonely, Lirael accepts a job in the Clayr’s library, where she opens doors that should have stayed locked, discovers century-old secrets and creates a being of free magic called The Disreputable Dog. A companion a lot more loyal than Mogget, The Disreputable Dog aids Lirael in her quest to become a true daughter of the Clayr. Althoguh that might not be her destiny after all…Meanwhile, on the other end of the world, in Ancelstierre, we meet Prince Sameth, the youngest child of Sabriel and Touchstone. Although trained to become the future Abhorsen, Sam is terrified of the Realm of the Dead. He feels left out and useless, but when his friend Nick is supposedly travelling to the Old Kingdom and might fall in the hands of an evil necromancer called Hedge, Sam knows he must help his friend at all cost. Even if that means facing his fears. Armed with none other than Mogget, heaps of courage, and a handful of luck, Sam goes on his quest and meets Lirael along the way.

The third and final book in this series, Abhorsen, follows our two heroes Lirael and Sameth as they try to save the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre from impending doom in the form of The Destroyer. With an epic battle that would put the Harry Potter series to shame, the old clash of good vs. evil displayed in all its raw glory, our heroes have to depend on themselves and each other to save the day. But, there is always a price to pay…

The Abhorsen Trilogy is an enthralling, rich and refreshing epic fantasy series that cannot be forgotten on the bookshelfs of every self-respecting fantasy fan. Although aimed at young adults, the dark themes like death, suffering and pain are suitable for a mature audience as well. Garth Nix shows his many strengths: strong narrative, excellent character-development, impressive world-building skills, a unique magic system and a fast-paced, action-packed adventure that doesn’t slow down for one moment. The Abhorsen Trilogy is sheer brilliance.

1042542Title: Sabriel (The Abhorsen Trilogy #1)
Publisher: CollinsVoyager
Publication Date: May 6th 2003
Review: Read my review for Sabriel.
Rating: 4 stars

Who will guard the living when the dead arise? Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. After receiving a cryptic message from her father, 18-year-old Sabriel leaves her ordinary school and returns across the Wall into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands — for her father is none other than The Abhorson. His task is to lay the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him — and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father’s title and duties — to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible challenges whilst discovering her own supernatural abilities — and her destiny.

Review Excerpt: There isn’t much I can say about The Abhorsen Trilogy that hasn’t been said before. With his books Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen, Garth Nix crafts a dazzling, strong and compelling fantasy series with highly original concepts, entertaining and genuine-sounding characters, and one of the first series that successfully combines epic and dark fantasy, featuring both a magical Old Kingdom, necromancers and the rising dead. Garth Nix’s cleverness as a writer shows as he manages to create both an instantly addictive plot and an alternate world that seems both halfway familiar but also unsettingly strange. Read more?

47629Title: Lirael (The Abhorsen Trilogy #2)
Publisher: CollinsVoyager
Publication Date: September 1st 2004
Review: Read my review for Lirael.
Rating: 4,5 stars

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Abandoned by her mother, ignorant of her father’s identity, Lirael resembles no one else in her large extended family living in the Clayr’s glacier. She doesn’t even have the Sight–the ability to See into the present and possibly futures–that is the very birthright of the Clayr.

Nonetheless, it is Lirael in whose hands the fate of the Old Kingdom lies. She must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil–one that opposes the Royal Family, blocks the Sight of the Clayr, and threatens to break the very boundary between Life and Death itself. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog to help her, Lirael must find the courage to seek her own hidden destiny.

Review Excerpt: But scratch Lirael’s ignorance and Sameth’s irrational fear. Scratch the evil necromancers Chlorr of the Mask (although I did find her interesting) and Hedge. Because that’s not what makes this book great – although it helps a fair share. It’s Lirael’s ventures into the library, which is an impressive example of world-building skills alltogether with its many secret rooms, its hierarcy of librarians, and its ancient secrets waiting to be unlocked and The Disreputable Dog – a creature of magic more ancient than the Kingdoms itself that make this book interesting. Read more?

47666Title: Abhorsen (The Abhorsen Trilogy #3)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 3rd 2005
Review: Read my review for Abhorsen.
Rating: 5 stars

Orannis the Destroyer has been freed…

And only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping it. She and her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — have to take that chance. If Orannis’s unspeakable powers are unleashed, it will mean the end of all Life. With the help of her companions and a vision from the Clayr to guide her, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer — before it is too late…

Review Excerpt: At the verge of total destruction, the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre have to rely on these two heroes, their sidekicks, and occassional appearances of Sabriel and Prince Touchstone and other familiar characters. We’re thrown right into the action, and see the events unfold before the final countdown. Of all the books in The Abhorsen Trilogy, this one is no doubt the most fast-paced, action-packed and glued-to-your-seat one. The pace does not drop for one single second, the feeling of dread, fear and a soon-to-come climax never dissapears, and it feels like everything just clicks into place. Read more?

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