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?

Series Review: The Iron Fey Series

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The Iron Fey Series is a young adult fantasy series focusing on faeries, the realm of the Nevernever, and the adventures and trials of half-human, half-Summer Princess Meghan Chase. The series is written by Julie Kagawa and published by HarlequinTEEN.

Along with her best friend Puck, who is actually none other than the mythical Robin Goodfellow, whimsical and wicked faery mentioned in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the dark and icy Winter Prince Ash, Meghan must retreive her younger brother from the NeverNever in the first book in the series, The Iron King. What she doesn’t know, is that her brother’s kidnapper is none other than the Iron King, leader of the Iron Fey. Considering that all normal faeries are allergic to iron, and being submitted for a long time to said material weakens them a lot, and Meghan’s half-human side protects her from that disease, she is the only person who can travel to the Iron Fey Kingdom and save her brother.

In The Iron Daughter, Meghan is submitted to the whims and wishes of Mab, the Queen of Winter, at the Unseelie Court. Things get worse when Ash, the Winter Prince she fell in love with, is treating her indifferently or cruel. But the war with the Iron fey isn’t over yet. When Rowan, Crown Prince of Winter, gets murdered, the Scepter of Seasons is stolen and Ash betrays his own kingdom, it’s up to the Winter Prince and Meghan to retreive the Scepter, and hopefully prevent a war between Summer and Winter, as both kingdoms blame each other for its dissapearance. As they travel to the home of Leanansidhe, a very powerful faery, they get accompanied by old friends Puck and the cait sith Grimalkin. But now they still have to get the Scepter back from the Iron King’s former second in command, Virus.

Although they have convinced Summer and Winter to stop battling each other, that doesn’t stop the army of the Iron fey to come marching into the Nevernever in The Iron Queen. The fate of Tir Na Nog now rests on the shoulders of our heroes; and especially Meghan. She might be the only one capable of stopping the new Iron King, but at what cost? As love grows, friendships are shattered and renewed, and Grimalkin keeps on being his own sarcastic and humorous self, our heroes are crafting their own destiny.

Title: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1)
Review: Read my review for The Iron King
Rating: 5 stars

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Review Excerpt: From the moment Puck and Meghan step into the Never Never, I was hooked. The first hundred pages may not have totally convinced me, but the story afterwards did. I loved the way Julie Kagawa described both kingdoms, how she potrayed Lord Oberon and Queen Titania, how she made the throne room come to life on those very pages of this book. I was amazed, enthralled, paralyzed and of course, forced to continue reading. Then, as Meghan’s adventures begin, and she’s being chased by all sorts of magical creatures as she tries to find her brother, I was thoroughly amused. It felt sort of like those classic quest storylines, but with new and original ideas woven into it. Read more?

Title: Winter’s Passage (Iron Fey #1.5)
Review: Read my review for Winter’s Passage
Rating: 3 stars

Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl…until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck–Meghan’s best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon–who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey.

Yet Meghan and Ash’s detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter–a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat….

An eBook exclusive story from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.

Review Excerpt: I did enjoy reading Winter’s Passage, although I thought it was a bit short (probably got something to do with the fact it’s an ebook novella :P) and I probably finished reading it in fifteen or so minutes. It was fun to travel back to the briefly familiar territory covered in The Iron King, to catch up with Meghan and Ash, and to take another look on dear old Puck. The adventure with The Hunter chasing Ash and Meghan was entertaining as well, although I must admit I’ve grown a bit tired with the loop those two seem to be stuck in. Either it’s chasing something or someone – from a missing brother to a scepter to each other – or being chased by something rather dangerous. With The Iron Fey novels, I constantly have the feeling that I’m running along with the characters, and there’s never time to sit back and relax, or to talk about funny things like feelings, emotions and heartbreak. It’s a bit exhausting to read really. Read more?

Title: The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2)
Review: Read my review for The Iron Daughter.
Rating: 4 stars

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

Review excerpt: Thank god and all the saints in heaven, that Grimalkin is back. Always ready to make a sly remark, or to humor us with his witty sarcasm towards feeble humans and love-struck faerieis. Without Grimalkin, The Iron Fey series would definately be a lot less interesting. If Grimalkin was a human, Puck and Ash wouldn’t stand a chance, and I’d be Team Grimalkin all the way. Too bad cats cannot miraculously change into human shape, or aren’t disguises for ordinary, but very powerful faeries. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to find a very nice-looking, equally charming female cat to accompany our beloved Grimalkin. I can only hope that he makes an appearance in The Iron Queen as well. Read more?

Title: The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)
Review: Read my review for The Iron Queen.
Rating: 5 stars

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Review Excerpt: As of now, I’m officially not Team Ash or Team Puck anymore. I’m Team Meghan ftw! The way that girl has grown from a regular, somewhat shy and insecure teenage girl into the single most courageous, determined, intelligent and honest creature walking the Nevernever, is simply amazing. Gone is the love-struck half-faery we see at the beginning of The Iron Daughter, long forgotten is the girl who had no money to buy decent clothes and was the laughing stock of high school. Meet Meghan Chase – daughter of King Oberon, Princess to the Nevernever, and the most dangerous opponent the Iron Fey could possibly face. She is willful, strong, independent, but without ever losing her charming personality, and all the reasons why she’s still human and only a teenage girl. She literally and figuratively kicks ass in this novel, and it was a pleasure to witness. Read more?

Series Review: The Vampire Diaries & The Return Trilogy

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The Vampire Diaries is a Young Adult urban fantasy series created by L.J. Smith, and based on the lifes of the teenagers in Fell’s Church, who are constantly being troubled by supernatural dangers, ranging from vampires, like the notorious Damon and Stefan Salvatore, to werewolves, witches, Japanese fox spirits called Kitsune and other creatures that go bump in the night. Fell’s Church very own Homecoming Queen Elena Gilbert is the one usually in the center of everything, along with her boyfriend Stefan, his wicked brother Damon, and Elena’s own loyal group of friends: Meredith, Bonnie, Matt and sometimes even Caroline. Together they must face the evils that threaten Fell’s Church and the people they love.

In The Awakening, Golden Girl Elena develops a crush on the town’s newest student, Stefan Salvatore. Unknown to her, the latter is actually a daywalking vampire and she herself is the exact image of his long-lost girlfriend Katherine, who turned him into a creature of the night. Elena and Stefan start a relationship and he reveals the truth to her, but that is without taking into account his evil brother, Damon, who wants Elena for himself and wants to turn her into his Princess of Darkness. Threatened by an unfamiliar Dark Force, Elena meets an early death in The Struggle. But fear not, because in The Fury she awakens again, now turned into a vampire and a fellow creature of the night. Initially choosing Damon over Stefan, and while noticing strange occurances are happening in Fell’s Church once again, Elena’s undead life is full of trouble as well. Now the three vampires must team up again to fight the evil that is threatening their hometown…in the form of ex-girlfriend Katherine, who Damon and Stefan presumed long dead. At the end, it is Elena who sacrifices her life to save that of both brothers. Like any other self-respecting heroine, she returns from the death in The Reunion, albeit only a spirit who can talk from the grave to her wicca friend Bonnie. Now it’s up to Elena’s friends, without the great Queen of Town herself, to stop an even more powerful evil.

Ten years later, L.J Smith returns with a new trilogy as a spin-off for the original The Vampire Diaries series; athough only some days have passed in Fell’s Church, and the story of Nightfall starts where The Reunion left off. Elena is back from the dead – again – but now her merry pleasant life is being threatened by Japanese fox spirits, also known as kitsune. Unknown to him, Damon is being possessed by one of these fox spirits, and does all kinds of wicked things in their name, one of them is taking his own brother to a prison far, far away. Damon himself has no knowledge of the things he does when being possessed, and later on feels very sorry for ever doing them. In Shadow Souls, Elena, Damon and Matt travel to the Dark Dimension in the vain hope of getting Stefan back, who is held captive there by none other than the kitsune. When Matt goes back home, and Bonnie and Meredith show up out of thin air, it will need all of their friendship, courage and determination to get Stefan back.

6602822Title: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle
Rating: 2 stars
Read the Review.

Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.
Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.
Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.
Collected here in one volume for the first time, volumes one and two of The Vampire Diaries, the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

Review Preview:I can’t begin to explain to you how much I despise the character of Elena Gilbert. She is egocentric, selfish, spoiled, annoying, self-absorbed, unreliable, and most possibly the worst friend ever. Golden girl, Homecoming Queen, I don’t care how many titles L.J Smith gives her; if I ever met someone like Elena in real life, I’d make her tumble down the stairs. Seriously. She reminded me a lot of that movie Mean Girls, and how she has even friends in the first place, is a mystery to me. That’s not to say that the friendships in these novels are all that realistic. They aren’t. You might as well switch Elena’s friend with wax dolls, and you’d get the exact same novel. Whereas Elena still has some personality – although not necessarily the most desirable personality in the world – her friends have absolutely none. Read more?

6544486Title: The Fury & Dark Reunion
Rating: 3 stars
Read the Review.

Elena: transformed, the golden girl has become what she once feared and desired.
Stefan: tormented by losing Elena, he’s determined to end his feud with Damon once and for all—whatever the cost. But slowly he begins to realize that his brother is not his only enemy.
Damon: at last, he possesses Elena. But will his thirst for revenge against Stefan poison his triumph? Or can they come together to face one final battle?
Collected here in one edition are the third and fourth volumes of The Vampire Diaries, a riveting conclusion to the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

Review Preview: Elena makes a far better and more interesting vampire than she did as a human. She is strong, confident, but lacks most of the less-desirable qualities that made her the Queen Bitch of the 1990’s. She doesn’t take advantage of her friends anymore – safe the brief encounter with Matt at the beginning of the The Fury – and she doesn’t get away with everything anymore. Somehow, she stopped thinking that becoming Homecoming Queen was the most important thing in her life, or that she needs to have the most popular guy in high school, and that she’s going to die if she doesn’t have him. Those are just some of the perks of being undead, really. She also develops a bond with Damon throughout The Fury, something I supported of course, and showed us a bit of her dark side. Her interesting, not mean-girl-in-highschool, dark side. Read more?

7007788Title: The Return: Nightfall
Rating: 3 stars
Read the Review.

Elena Gilbert is alive—again.
When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her—the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon—she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back.
Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What’s more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire.
Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell’s Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with…
But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena’s blood but her death.

Review Preview: Nightfall starts exactly where The Reunion left off, although the freshly returned and de-spirited (look at me, I’m making up words, L.J. Smith style!) Elena has made a launch back in time, and now has the physical abbilities of a toddler. She doesn’t speak, and only communicates in thought-words. For those of you who think that’s cute, think again. An eighteen year old acting like a baby is never fun. An eighteen year old who died, became a vampire, and then died again, acting like a baby is enough to cause me a great deal of distress. After several failed attempts of yours faithfully to rip Elena’s throat out – the only problem being she’s not an actual person, but rather a fictional character – I gave up and wailed in self-pity every time she did the tap, tap, tap noise under her chin. While Stefan is being the figurative Saint again, and not touching her in any way that would be inappropriate – because you know, she has the mental abilities of a three-year-old – Elena wants nothing more than for Stefan to hold her, kiss her, and do all those things adult do. What follows next is too horribl to describe in words. Read more?

7002360Title: The Return: Shadow Souls
Rating: 3,5 stars
Read the Review.

On the run…
Elena Gilbert’s love, the vampire Stefan Salvatore, has been captured and imprisoned by demonic spirits who are wreaking havoc in Fell’s Church. While her friends Bonnie and Meredith explore the evil that has taken over their town, Elena goes in search of Stefan.
In order to find him, she entrusts her life to Stefan’s brother, Damon Salvatore, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul. Along with her childhood friend Matt, they set out for the slums of the Dark Dimension, where Stefan is being held captive. It is rumored to be a world where vampires and demons roam free, but humans must live enslaved to their supernatural masters…
Elena will stop at nothing to free Stefan. Yet with each passing day the tension between Elena and Damon grows, and she is faced with a terrible decision: Which brother does she really want?

Back in Fell’s Church, Bonnie and Meredith have made some dire discoveries. They hastily try to follow Elena and warn her—only to be caught up in Elena’s most dangerous adventure yet.

Review Preview: Not only were the characters all over the place, but so was the writing. It felt like somehow three different writers had each taken turns to write sentences or paragraphs, and now those snippets were all thrown together. Some of the scenes were simply ridiculous and made no sense whatsoever, and some of the descriptions were so bad they brought me closer to crying than to laughing. What this book really needed, in all honesty, was an editor. I don’t know who edited it, or how many people edited it, but it desperately screamed for a professional editor to browse through the pages, fill in the missing gaps, tell the author what could be improved, etc. I somehow had the feeling that everything, from the writing process to the actual editing, was rushed. You can’t rush things like writing, or the result will be less than satisfactory. Read more?