"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

A few weeks ago the Top Ten Tuesday topic was unfinished series. It was an easy topic since I am more likely to NOT finish a series than the opposite. If I do complete one it is because the books are captivating. the settings are vivid, I care about the characters, and enjoy the plot. Good writing is obviously essential. I enjoy plots that are unpredictable and books where full of multidimensional characters.  That is what we have here with the Abhorsen Trilogy written by Garth Nix.

The series begins with Sabriel (1995) who is the Abhorsen-in-waiting to her father. Only the Abhorsen can keep the living safe from the dead. They do this by using bells to chase the dead past the ninth gate of death so that they cannot return toearth to cause havoc. When Sabriel's father goes missing and many other terrible signs develop in the Old Kingdom, Sabriel is called into action to find him and save the land for the living. Along the way Sabriel is assisted by Mogget, an enchanted cat-being and Touchstone, a prince who previously trapped for several hundred years in a ship's masthead. As the Greater Dead gain strength and determination to rule the world Sabriel's skills and courage are sorely tested. Can she save both her father and the whole country?

Lirael (2001), the middle book of the trilogy is set 20 years after the ending of Sabriel. Lirael, a daughter of the Clayr is waiting to received the gift of sight so that she can fulfill her purpose in life. While she is waiting for her gift to come forward she becomes an assistant librarian and works in the vast library of the Clayr. A lonely girl whose mother is dead and doesn't know her father, Lirael finds a small dog statue on one of her adventures in the library. This statue comes to life as the Disreputable Dog and is a loyal friend to Lirael. When the Clayr "see" that Lirael is a vital person to foil a plot of a great evil being, she and the dog go out in the world not knowing what to expect or how to proceed. They meet up with a prince and face great evil beings together. As in most middle books of trilogies, this one ends on a cliff-hanger.

In Abhorsen (2003) we once again meet with Lirael, Sameth (the Prince), and the Disreputable Dog as they try to save Nick, a friend of Sameth, and defeat Orannis, the Destroyer. As the book progresses we see how the situation is over the head of the team yet they must prevail because Orannis will destroy all life. Nick is unwittingly working for the destroyer which, of course complicates their plans.

I enjoy stories where good triumphs over evil but in this series one was never quite sure how this was going to happen and it certainly seemed that evil had the upperhand a good deal of the time. I cheered for the protagonists Sabriel, Lirael, and Sameth, even though they were all flawed, complex people. I was sorry when the series ended because the characters had become friends. Fortunately for me I just learned that there is a collection of short stories by Garth Nix that includes a few stories of my friends here.

I listened to Lirael and Abhorsen on audiobooks. They were excellently read by Tim Curry of Rock Horror Picture Show fame. I highly recommend this series to all you enjoy a good story and fabulous writing.


  1. These books were recommended by a friend about a year ago, and I LOVED them. They are so much better than most of the fantasy written for teens -- I even had to look up some of the vocabulary. Reading these books felt like the closest thing to Lord of the Rings in terms of complexity of the characters and the world-building. Glad you enjoyed them.

  2. I loved these books too. I bought them for my dad for Christmas last year. :)

  3. The magical system in these books is amazing. (The bells that control the gates of Death...) I love that Nix made up something so unique instead of sticking with one of the standards.


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