Garth Nix delves into the dark heart of high fantasy in the Abhorsen Trilogy, three interconnected fantasies about a family of necromancers who lay the dead -- and forces of evil -- to rest. Humour, detailed writing and deep characters, along with a richly-realize world, make this a classic-in-the-making.
"Sabriel" is the story of a teenage girl living happily at a girl's school, while her necromancer father (the Abhorsen) roams around putting the dead to rest. All that changes when a sending brings her father's sword and bells, meaning that he is dead or incapacitated. So Sabriel takes on her father's duties, accompanied by a Free Magic cat and a mysterious young prince, and battles the specter of a horrible evil creature that is reaching out from death to snare her.
"Lirael" takes us to the cold citadel of the Clayr, a race of seers. Young Lirael is depressed because she doesn't have the gift of Sight yet, even though everybody else her age does. But things take a sinister turn when she sets a horrifying, bloodthirsty creature loose, and must work -- with the help of the mysterious Disreputable Dog -- to get rid of it. But what Lirael doesn't know is that the outside world is in danger too, from a sinister new enemy.
"Abhorsen" brings the series to an explosive conclusion. Lirael and her nephew Sameth -- along with "cat" Mogget and the Disreputable Dog -- are in danger from the Dead. What's more, the Destroyer Orannis has escaped from his prison and is being assisted by an evil necromancer and the Dead called Chlorr -- and an unfortunate pal of Sameth's. Now Lirael must call on her destiny as the future Abhorsen, and kill the Destroyer.
Garth Nix had only written a couple of books, one of which was an "X-Files" novelization, when the first Abhorsen book burst onto the fantasy scene. Now he's one of the most respected, prolific and well-liked fantasy writers in years, with his single books in print and two hit series for younger readers. But despite his newer works, his tales of the Old Kingdom are still his best.
The Abhorsen Trilogy is a perfect example of dark fantasy, with its grotesque dead zombies that occasionally lurch out to attack the heroes, magical bells, and shadowy beasties that can (sometimes) be restrained. It takes the trappings of high fantasy and lets us see them through a mirror darkly. Not to mention the brilliant concept of the Abhorsen necromancers, who have power over dead and/or magical creatures, and bind them with Charter marks and bells.
Virtually all of Nix's characters are likable -- especially the gutsy Sabriel and nervous teenage Sameth -- and the acid-tongued animals and black humor add a wry spin to the fantastical stories. It takes a bit longer to warm up to Lirael, since she spends several chapters in the same-named book feeling sorry for herself, but once she gets moving she's unstoppable -- and very likable.
Garth Nix gave high fantasy a dark twist in the Abhorsen Trilogy. Full of magic, darkness, death and beauty, this is a classic in the making.
on 26 June 2007
I only heard about Garth Nix when I got Mr.Monday free after I ordered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I read Mr.Monday and thought it was pretty good, so i bought the entire keys to the kingdom series as it currently stands, and i loved it!
I saw good reviews for the Old Kingdom/Abhorsen trilogy and decided i may as well buy the whole series as it was only a tenner.......what a find!!
Harry Potter turned me back on to reading a few years back, i'm 20 now and still love them, but this series was perfect for me. Fantasy, magic and creatures but with an adult and very dark twist!
Sabriel is fairly fast paced, she sets about her journey pretty early on in the book. You learn just enough about her to like her and enough for her destiny and role in the book to have enough mystery. It introduces everything you'll come to love.....free magic, necromancers, the necromantic bells (genius!), mogget etc. As the book progresses you get to learn more about Sabriel and her role as the Abhorsen-in-waiting. The book has a couple of cheeky 'adult' moments that made me grin!
Lirael takes a while to get going but i still absolutely love it. I cant get enough of big books rich in detail, which is one of the reasons i like Order of the Phoenix so much! Lirael is also very likeable and has her own destiny to search for. There is less of Sabriel in this book and the next one as the events in 'Lirael' happen 14 years after the events in 'Sabriel'. This isn't a bad thing though, you'll come to like Lirael as much as Sabriel. This book introduces many new characters, Prince Sameth, Nicholas Sayre, The Disreputable Dog, Hedge etc...and you'll come to love them too! This book follows the separate actions of Prince Sameth,Lirael, Sabriel and King Touchstone, bringing their stories together as it progresses.
Abhorsen wraps things up very nicely but leaves enough things out to keep you wondering and has a very bittersweet ending!! This book is a continuation of the events in Lirael but each book stands on its own well!
After i had read the series i went back and read it again straight away, something ive done with the Harry Potter series 6 times! I didnt think a series would have the same effect on me as Harry Potter but it has!!Definitely recommended for older Harry Potter readers and readers of fantasy in general!! I just hope i havent built it up too much.......its damned good though!
on 25 February 2013
After my son spent weeks successively talking about each of the books of this trilogy in turn, I decided to take a look at the first one. I could easily see why he liked them so much, and quickly found myself reading through all three books. What a fascinating world Nix creates here! I'm not sure what I can write without giving away too much. Perhaps the following might be interesting for a parent deciding whether or not to buy it: When he asked for it, I was initially a bit uncertain, since death was obviously such a major topic, and was timidly posing myself the age-old parental question: Is this good for my child or not. This one is. (Or rather, these three are.) If anyone is still worried, the good guys in the story are among and on the side of the living. It's great fantasy.
on 28 August 2008
I'm just re-buying the trilogy again, having lent my copies away. The series is so good, it's worth re-reading many times even though I know what's going to happen next.
These stories are richly painted and will leave you wanting more...which fortunately you can get in Garth's series of short stories, starting with "Across the wall".
I do hope he writes more of these adventures.