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Lirael Classic Edition (Old Kingdom, 2) Paperback – August 3, 2021
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Return to the world of Sabriel for its 25th anniversary with this special edition of the second book of the Old Kingdom series, Lirael, from master of fantasy and globally bestselling author Garth Nix with original cover artwork by Leo and Diane Dillon.
A spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger in the sequel to Sabriel.
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 against the growing shadow of an ancient evil.
Dive into a tale of dark magic and destiny.
“Riveting. Readers who like their fantasy intense in action, magisterial in scope, and apocalyptic in consequences will revel in every word.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Haunting and unusual, exhaustively and f lawlessly conceived. A must-read for fans of the first book, Lirael will also fascinate readers new to the series.” —SLJ
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“Riveting.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Superb characterization." — Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
— Publishers Weekly
“The action charges along at a gallop--a page turner for sure.” — ALA Booklist (starred review)
Praise for SABRIEL: “Rich, complex, involving, hard to put down, excellent high fantasy.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Nix has created an ingenious, icy world. The action charges along at a gallop. A page-turner for sure.” — ALA Booklist (starred review)
Sabriel is an engaging tale that slays sexual stereotypes along with its monsters.” — San Francisco Chronicle
Sabriel is a winner, a fantasy that reads like realism. Here is a world with the same solidity and four dimensional authority as our own, created with invention, clarity, and intelligence. I congratulate Garth Nix. And I look forward to reading his next piece of work.” — Philip Pullman
“A wonderful new fantasy filled with rich and complex imagery.” — Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Nix’s monsters are scary and repulsive, his sense of humor is downright sneaky, and he puts his heroine through engrossing physical and emotional wringers. This book is guaranteed to keep readers up way past their bedtimes.” — School Library Journal
“A compelling fantasy. The story is remarkable for the level of originality and leaves readers to explore for themselves.” — Horn Book Magazine
Praise for ABHORSEN: “Breathtaking, bittersweet, and utterly unforgettable.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“More than three hundred pages of breathless chases, near escapes, and intense confrontations. Nix’s intricately imagined fantasy world is peopled by complex players worthy of both their dramatic backdrops and their moral dilemmas.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
About the Author
Garth Nix is a New York Times bestselling novelist and has been a full-time writer since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve.
Garth’s many books include the Old Kingdom fantasy series, beginning with Sabriel and continuing to Goldenhand; the sci-fi novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; the Regency romance with magic Newt’s Emerald; and novels for children including The Ragwitch, the Seventh Tower series, the Keys to the Kingdom series, and Frogkisser!,which is now in development as a feature film with Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios. Garth has written numerous short stories, some of which are collected in Across the Wall and To Hold the Bridge. He has also cowritten several children’s book series with Sean Williams, including TroubleTwisters and Have Sword, Will Travel.
More than six million copies of his books have been sold around the world and his work has been translated into forty-two languages. You can find him online at www.garthnix.com.
- Publisher : HarperCollins (August 3, 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0063086816
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063086814
- Reading age : 13 - 17 years
- Grade level : 8 - 9
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 1.5 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #555,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2016
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Top reviews from the United States
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Surprisingly, the new protagonists are awesome and the story is fascinating!
We now follow Lirael and Samaeth, both interesting personalities, especially Lirael. She is not the typical young heroine, she is well written and has an evolving personality. You can relate to her and care about her. Sam is also interesting, though his (expected) prince like behavior is annoying at times. Still, considering his birth his actions are fairly realistic.
We again have our truly evil adversaries, of considerable strength and the story is really interesting. It’s clever how information our protagonists have would make a whole lot of sense to the other and the reader knowing everything is anxious of them meeting and sharing knowledge.
The pacing is good and you don’t get bored on either story. There is a lot of mystery everywhere and strong emotions.
Every time I spent reading this book, I was super hooked. It doesn’t feel like cheap writing and you want to know what’s next - in truth this book and the next are one story so yeah, I will be reading the next one too!!
The first thing I did not like was the structure. I would estimate that the first 25-35% of the book (had locations on my Kindle turned off, so I can't be 100% sure) was all about Lirael, the title character. Then suddenly, we are transferred to Sameth, a prince and son of Sabriel from book 1. After a couple of chapters, we are back to Lirael. It seems very uneven.
I think I understand why the author set it up this way: Sameth is, during the first part of the book, away at school across the Wall, where there is no magic (for the most part). So nothing relating to the Old Kingdom is really happening with him, whereas Lirael is in the Old Kingdom the whole time. It wouldn't make sense to write about Sameth learning to play cricket and such, because that has no relevance to the story. But at the same time, it is odd to have him as a protagonist when he is most definitely not Lirael's equal (in fact, he cedes a rather large role to her later in the book).
The other thing that bothers me about the structure is the ending. (This does not contain spoilers.) We are led, throughout the whole book, to believe the ending is going to be a confrontation with a powerful necromancer. But. This book essentially ends halfway through. No cliffhanger, just a chop in half. There is a revelation about Lirael at the end, but I, for one, saw it coming from a mile away. (Normally I am dense about such things, so it must've been really, really obvious...) Anyway, I feel like I read half a book.
The second thing I generally didn't like about the book was Lirael's character during the first half. I get that this is YA fiction, and maybe she is meant to appeal to a younger audience (although I don't have kids, I'm old enough to be the mother of someone reading this book...). But I can get into good YA fiction, and the adult/YA dividing line does not have good characters on one side and bad on the other. Good characters are good characters, regardless. Anyway, Lirael is kind of annoying early on: overdramatic, aloof, (internally) whiny. In one sense, I get it. She is growing up among the Clayr (you encountered some of them in Sabriel) but she does not have the Sight. She is left out of important rites of passage, etc. She distances herself from everyone. Although I kind of understand this, I feel that the concept was beaten to death, pretty much, and a little less focus on this would still have worked.
But, there are things to like about the book as well. I always liked fantasy novels where there's lots of exploration of hidden, older, and forgotten areas of buildings, and Lirael spends a good amount of time exploring the home of the Clayr, which has lots of interesting secrets.
Although Lirael is whiny in the first half of the book, she changes for the better in the second half. She is maybe a tad too quick to accept a new role (although it kind of makes sense that she would, since she has been looking for a place to fit in all her life), but finally she has confidence and a purpose. As for Sameth, I actually like his character arc better. He is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting early on in his sections and he dreads this role. He is terrified of Death. He avoids his studies. But he is brave in his own way, and it turns out that his skills and interests are related to a potentially different role that is only hinted at by the end of the book. I am definitely interested to see where this goes.
There is also a mystery (well, a couple of related mysteries). One of Sameth's school friends has crossed the Wall into the Old Kingdom. I imagine book 3 is a more focused quest to find him (this book sort of was, but there were some other purposes for this book as well). He is suffering from a mysterious ailment and he is supervising the digging up of a dangerous artifact. He has visions of making money from this artifact, but it seems unlikely that this quest is going to end well for him. Anyway, I am interested to see where this goes.
And, the politics of the kingdoms on both sides of the Wall are colliding in this book, which is unprecedented in the history of this world. Refugees from a war on a far away continent are being sent across the Wall -- they are told they will be resettled, but there's something more sinister at work.
The writing is mostly good. I feel that sometimes the foreshadowing is too obvious, but mostly the language sits back and tells the story without interfering. The pace is a little uneven, thanks to the first part of the book, but it picks up and is much more satisfactory in the second half. Some interesting plot threads are starting to come together by the end, and it is this that has me coming back for more.
I have to give this 3 stars, though, because it really feels like filler, or like it should've been shortened and incorporated as part of book 3. There are some redeeming qualities, but it is just not up to par with book 1.
However, "Lirael" isn't just about Lirael. Prince Sameth, heir apparent to Sabriel as the Old Kingdom's champion against evil necromancers, also comes of age in this volume. There are plenty of evil necromancers to go around. In fact, at the end of this book, it appears as though they are winning the war to turn the Old Kingdom into a kingdom of the dead.
One fault should be noted. The two main characters spend too much text feeling sorry for themselves. Lirael pursues an impossible dream, while Prince Sameth tries to escape from an impossible nightmare. I think the author's editor must have read "Sabriel" and said, "Garth, this is a great fantasy but your heroine, Sabriel is pretty darn self-sufficient. Readers can't relate to that. You need to make your characters more vulnerable." So that's exactly what Nix did in Volume Two. Vulnerability often shades over into self-pity in "Lirael"---too often for my liking. It's not enough of an annoyance to bypass this fantasy. Hopefully, in the yet-to-be-published "Abhorsen", Lirael and Prince Sameth will stop whining and take up the burden of defending the Old Kingdom. Lirael is already headed in that direction, along with her friend the Disreputable Dog.
Garth, I advise you to stop listening to your editor. You were pitch-perfect in "Sabriel". Retune 'Astarael, the Sorrowful' that "casts all who hear it deep into Death" and finish this marvelous trilogy the way you began it.
Top reviews from other countries
A lot more of the world's ancient history is revealed in this, and it's a tribute to Nix's world-building skills that the whole thing fits together very neatly. On the down side, he continues his annoying habit of putting in comments about how he wrote the book at the end of chapters. But I'm getting better at skipping over these.
Generally speaking, I don't like books that end on a cliffhanger. But, to be fair, it has achieved its purpose - I've gone ahead and downloaded no. 3 in the series. The story's good enough to swallow my pride and keep going!