Re-Read: Lirael (Garth Nix)

Lirael is the second novel in the Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix. [Here’s my review of the first one.]

Lirael is supposed to be one of the Clayr. But year after year passes and her Sight – the ability to foresee the future – doesn’t awaken. She doesn’t even look like all of her cousins, the rest of the Clayr. At least when she gets a job at the library, she can do a small part in the community and she can explore the library that has quite a few surprises hidden away. Lirael even manages to make/call the Disreputable Dog in whom she finds a loyal friend.
In the meantime Prince Sameth, the son of Sabriel and Touchstone, encounters the Necromancer Hedge in Death. From that point on he feels unable to take up the mantle as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, descending further into depression, only looking forward to a visit from his Ancelstierrian friend Nicholas.
All of their paths cross when it becomes clear that the entire Old Kingdom is under a serious threat.

When I read the Series for the firs time, I was blown away by Sabriel because it was so new and shiny. And I thought that Abhorsen was the best book of the three. Lirael kind of fell between the cracks of fantastic beginning and satisfying ending. On re-reading it, I’m thinking that I might like it best of all.


There was more than one moment where the book had me close to tears (and sometimes not only close). Mostly because I felt every instance of Lirael’s loneliness and her discomfort at being so different from her cousins quite accutely. I don’t know why it hit me that hard. I mean, I did have my time as the outcast in school, but it’s long over and I have made my peace with it (though that I finally made my peace with it might be the reason that I could allow myself to feel with Lirael so much, who knows). In any case Nix really makes her ostracization (which is partly her own fault) real and keenly felt.

Sam’s struggle with the Book of the Dead, his general issues with Death and his own loneliness are not much less distressing. Here, too, I just wanted to give him a hug and make it all better.

Thankfully the book is not all tears: the Disreputable Dog is as amazing as always and much needed relief not only for Lirael, but also the reader. As is Nicholas, at least at first. His letters to Sam – which perfectly capture the 20s boarding school talk, if I’m to be any judge of that – are amazing to read and draw such a vibrant picture of his warm personality that it almost makes up for what happens to him later on. [Insert more crying.]

I had forgotten how closely connected Lirael and Abhorsen are – they are basically one book printed as two -, so the ending of this one isn’t really an ending. But that just makes you want to read Abhorsen that much faster.

Summarizing: It hurts so good.


    • Thanks!

      I liked Nick in Creature in the Case as well – though I did wish that he was better. Mostly because I just wanted him to be better and not still suffer the aftereffects from everything he went through, not because I didn’t like him anymore.
      But you’re right, pre-possessed Nick is certainly the most entertaining.

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