Series: The Old Kingdom #3
Published by HarperCollins
Published on January 3rd 2005
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When the ninth gate calls, who can resist its summons?
An old evil has arisen - freed from its subterranean prison and seeking to escape the binding silver hemispheres which prevent it from finally unleashing its terrible powers.
Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, knows that the fate of the world is in her hands. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the uncertain help of her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — Lirael sets out on her perilous mission.
Then answer must be found somewhere in Life or Death - but can a former Second Assistant Librarian possibly discover the means to defeat the Destroyer...before it is too late?
Despite their new destinies, Lirael and Sam continue their plan to recue Nick and stop whatever he is unearthing. Slowly the pair come to discover what it is: Lirael embraces her destiny as not only the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, but a Remembrancer as well, someone who can See the past like her Clayr sisters can See the future. Sam, relieved he no longer has to deal directly with Death, embraces his destiny as a royal Wallmaker – his hobby of inventing and his powerful skill as a Charter Mage really pays off.
Although this book is a little higher on action than Lirael, I actually forgot how much of it involves travelling and discovering and planning and then action. The action really ramps up in the final third to lead to what I think is possibly my most favourite climax in any book I’ve ever read.
Lirael has really come a very long way from being the shy Sightless Second Assistant Librarian locked away in the Clayr’s Glacier – now she’s a tough warrior who slays the dead, who walks into Death itself to save the world. She’s really quite amazing.
Every time I moved back to Sam’s point of view I could almost feel the relief he felt at no longer being responsible for putting down the Dead. I’m so glad his love of inventing magical trinkets paid off in the end. I felt really sorry for Nick, the poor guy was just overwhelmed with evil power. You have to admire his willpower and intelligence though. I’m really looking forward to reading more about him and Lirael in Goldenhand. I was glad to see Mogget actually have a character arc in this besides being snide and sneaky. Although I’ve read this book before I completely forgot what happened at the end and had to have a cry when I realised who wasn’t coming back.
Nix’s writing is as always perfectly elegant, giving this novel a feel of a classic high fantasy that will last through the ages. Every time I took a moment to catch my breath we moved on through motivations of the main characters which propelled the narrative forward with ease. It’s not a fast-paced novel all the way through, it’s more like a locomotive that gently picks up speed until you’re suddenly in the third act and there’s no way you can possibly stop because you just have to know what’s going to happen next, and when all else seems lost you wonder how are our beloved characters going to get out of this unscathed?
Once more, like Sabriel, this was supposed to be the end of the story. I am so glad Nix can’t keep his mind off the Old Kingdom and went on to produce a few novellas (Across the Wall and To Hold The Bridge, reviewed here), then Clariel and now Goldenhand after this. I love this world, as terrifying as it is, I love the characters, and I love the challenges they have to overcome. I can’t wait for Goldenhand to see more of Lirael and Nick!