Lirael is the second volume in the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. Typically, the
second volume of a trilogy is the weakest. The first volume introduces the reader to a new world, new characters and the
plot line. The third book always contains the grand climax. Thus, the second volume often treads water, advancing the plot,
but not too much. Lirael is unusual in that it maybe the strongest book of the three volumes in the Abhorsen
trilogy. It was my favorite. (I have now read Abhorsen, review forthcoming...)
Lirael introduces an entire new set of characters. The stars of Sabriel play only minor role in this book.
This is book focuses on Lirael, a young teenager growing up with the Clayr. The Clayr are a community that possess the "sight" -
they can see into the future. Typically, this ability to see into the future arrives around age 12 or 13. But Lirael is already
the oldest girl in the community who lacks the "seeing" ability, and the birthdays keep ticking past. The Clayr and Lirael realize
that the seeing is not for her, and so she is sent to work as a 3rd assistant librarian.
I love the library that Lirael roams. It is big and scary, with plenty of dangerous areas protected by spells
and full of lost treasures. Lirael is a lonely sole, speaking little to the other librarians, prefering to lose herself in the
work of librarian, and exploring in her spare time. She is not entirely alone - Lirael is befriended by a talking dog
(the dog as the unlikely name of Disreputable Dog).
The story of Sameth, a young prince of the Old Kingdom (and son of Sabriel and Touchstone) alternates with the
sections about Lirael. Sameth was studying on the other side of the wall (where magic doesn't work) when he and a busload of his classmates
are attacked by a undead zombies controlled by an evil necromancer named Hedge. Sameth thwarts the attack, but finds himself recalled
to his home in the Old Kingdom. It seems there is trouble everywhere, and Sam must begin his training as Abhorsen-in-Waiting (Sabriel currently
holds the title, but times are dangerous, and she has been wounded in recent desperate battles with the undead.) Sam does not want to
be an Abhorsen. His gift is working Charter Magic, not commanding the undead. He decides to runaway.Meanwhile, the Clayr have gathered (assembling in a group allows them to see further and clearer into the future)
and seen a vision of Lirael in the future helping a young man on a lake. The Clayr decide that Lirael must be sent to that distant lake,
because her presence may stop the mysterious evil power that has been tormenting the Old Kingdom. Of course, Sam and Lirael are
destined to meet.
Unlike the first book in this series, Sabriel, which was a self contained story, Lirael is only the first
half of a bigger story. The conclusion is in Abhorsen. I enjoyed the first two books, so Abhorsen was immediately
checked out of the library.