Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Abhorsen Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Dark Fantasy
Series: Abhorsen Book Three
Pages: 512

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(Spoilers for the previous two books in the Abhorsen Trilogy are below).

The final installment of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Trilogy lives up to some lofty expectations.  While I didn’t quite like it as much as Lirael or Sabriel, it was still an excellent conclusion to the series.  As a Young Adult fantasy trilogy this undoubtedly joins Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy as one of greatest Young Adult series’ out there..

Lirael started to falter towards the end, but it came through with a great conclusion that emphasizes one of life’s hardest lessons: sometimes life doesn’t allow you to realize your dreams.  After Lirael’s dream to become a Clayr is dashed – not unlike many people who live in the world – she finds a way to go on.  Abhorsen chronicles the events shortly after Lirael receives the revelation that she is the actual Abhorsen-in-Waiting as she learns to live with what she “can” do in life. In this case she, Mogget, the Disreputable Dog, and Sameth begin their journey to confront Orannis the Destroyer who is getting ready to return.

The return of Mogget at the end of Lirael really adds a lot of great dynamics to the story.  His forced servitude to the Abhorsen and his hatred for all the Abhorsens he’s served makes him a perfect “Gollum” type of character.  Will he ultimately help Lirael, or will he help Orannis?, is a question that’s frequently thrown out there.  Mogget also serves as the comic relief.  As a cat who’s lazy, and so apathetic to the danger that everyone’s in, you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of all his actions during the battles.  His rivalry with the Disreputable Dog parodies a relationship between two animals with a reputation for animosity towards each other.

This book is a lot very similar to Sabriel in the sense that it’s almost exclusively a quest based fantasy book, but unlike Sabriel there’s no romantic subplot.  Two of the most memorable scenes before the final battle include the scene where Lirael talks to Nick in the boat – something that was mentioned was going to happen in the visions the Clayr saw in Lirael, and Lirael’s journey into Death is one of the most physical detailed descriptions of traveling there in the entire series.

What this book lacked – at least compared to the previous two – was that “powerful emotional moment.”  Lirael realizing she’ll never get the Sight in Lirael, and Sabriel saying goodbye to her father in Death in Sabriel are two beautiful moments that embody some of the most difficult realities in the world we live in: the loss of loved one’s and the failure to obtain your dreams.  That type of moment isn’t in this book, and that was something that left me a little disappointed. That being said, it’s not that this story lacked emotion, it certainly has a powerful ending, but it just wasn’t up to par with the last two books. Nevertheless, Abhorsen still delivers an excellent ending.

Score: 9.2

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