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Lirael

Daughter of the Clayr
Written by: Garth Nix
Narrated by: Tim Curry
Series: Abhorsen/The Old Kingdom, Book 2
Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Abandoned by her mother, ignorant of her father's identity, Lirael resembles no one else in her large extended family living in the Clayr's glacier. She doesn't even have the Sight, the ability to See into the present and possibly futures, that is the very birthright of the Clayr.

Nonetheless, it is Lirael in whose hands the fate of the Old Kingdom lies. She must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil, one that opposes the Royal Family, blocks the Sight of the Clayr, and threatens to break the very boundary between Life and Death itself. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog to help her, Lirael must find the courage to seek her own hidden destiny.

©2003 Garth Nix (P)2003 Random House, Inc.

What the critics say

"A must-listen for fans of the first book, Lirael will also fascinate listeners new to the series." (School Library Journal)

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Superb!!

Wonderful storytelling by Garth Nix and narration by Tim Curry. Mogget and The Disreputable Dog have all the best lines.

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  • Jefferson
  • 2013-04-18

Charter Knows, a Library Can Be a Dangerous Place

In Garth Nix' Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr (2001), the second novel in his Abhorsen trilogy, Touchstone and Sabriel are now the King and Abhorsen (anti-necromancer) of the Old Kingdom lying north of the Wall that separates their land of magic and pesky undead from the world of machines and countries in conflict (reminiscent of our early 20th century world). And things are not well in their Old Kingdom. An unknown "Enemy" is manipulating Necromancers into attacking villages with bands of undead "Hands" and "Shadowhands," while at Red Lake something ominous is happening that even the clairvoyant women of the Clayr are unable to see.

All fourteen-year-old Lirael wants is to gain the Sight like the other girls and women of the Clayr. Her black hair and brown eyes already mark her as too different the others, while her father is unknown and her mother abandoned her when she was a little girl. And each year on her birthday Lirael has grown older without gaining the Sight while increasingly younger girls have come into their own. Luckily, she is given a job as Third-Assistant Librarian in the nautilus shell-like ancient library of the Clayr, which suits the increasingly anti-social and magically curious girl. But poor Sameth, the teenage son of Touchstone and Sabriel, is pulled out of his elite boarding school south of the Wall and returned to the Palace at Bellisaere, where everyone expects him to train to succeed Sabriel as Abhorsen, when he is physically and mentally unable to even touch the Book of the Dead. Instead, he prefers fabricating magical "toys," like a nifty flying, mosquito-eating frog. Both young people are good young adult fantasy Ugly Ducklings: they believe that they are flawed and cannot fit in and yet are really gifted in ways destined to become appreciated.

Despite his young protagonists' morose moods, Nix writes his novel with humor and imagination. He has carefully constructed his magical world, in which most of the Free Magic that randomly pulses everywhere is ordered by the Charter, a seemingly infinite set of marks a bit like Chinese characters which adepts write on paper or in the air to make magic. Necromancers bypass the Charter to tap into Free Magic to do unnatural things like transform dead people into cannon fodder minions, while Charter Mages access it to protect the Kingdom, and the sole Abhorsen walks into Death (leaving his or her frosty body behind in the world) and then rings any of a set of seven bells to force the undead back down through the gates set in the river of Death till they reach their proper state.

Nix has great fun with that setting, imagining various nearly sentient magical books, constructs, sendings, spells, and artifacts. The most enjoyable such magical things in the novel are a pair of droll and mysterious talking "pets," the hungry, spunky, and loving Disreputable Dog, and the sarcastic, cynical, and sleepy white feline Mogget, both of whom are much more than they appear to be. The great thing about it all is that Nix often describes the magic with magical prose, vivid, sensual, and sublime, to evoke a sense of wonder, beauty, and terror (which are nearly absent from YA magical fantasy like the Harry Potter series).

Take, for example, the time Lirael loses control of a spell and "She tried to scream, but no sound came out, only Charter marks that leapt from her mouth towards the golden radiance. Charter marks continued to fly from her fingers, too, and swam in her eyes, spilling down inside her tears, which turned to steam as they fell." Even when nothing magical is happening, Nix may summon magic, as when Lirael is exploring the Library and finds herself in "a vast chamber, bigger even than the Great Hall. Charter marks as bright as the sun shone in the distant ceiling, hundreds of feet above. A huge oak tree filled the center of the room, in full summer leaf, its spreading branches shading a serpentine pool. And everywhere, throughout the cavern, there were flowers. Red flowers. Lirael bent down and picked one, uncertain if it was some sort of illusion. But it was real enough. She felt no magic, just the crisp stalk under her fingers. A red daisy, in full bloom."

And at his best, Nix writes suspenseful scenes that develop his world and characters and excite the reader, as when Lirael meets a stilken (a woman-shaped Free Magic entity with silver eyes and arms as long as her legs ending in the claws of a mantis), or when his heroes sail beneath a mile-wide bridge-city and are targeted by a crossbow bolt shooting assassin and a fiery Free Magic and swine-flesh construct masquerading as human.

When I read Lirael several years ago, I found it overlong and burdened by mopey characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the audiobook version, largely thanks to the virtuoso reading of Tim Curry. He deftly balances on the Edge of Too Much, reading with infectious relish lines by foul necromancers gloating over how they're about to kill you or Disreputable mongrels getting ready to sink their teeth into your calf to snap you out of your funk or snarky magical cats asking for fish after just failing to help save your skin. And isn't there a hint of Dr. Frank N. Furter in his Mogget?

Sabriel is a fresher and more self-contained book, whereas Lirael really makes part one of a duology completed by the third volume in the "trilogy," Abhorsen. But fans of imaginative and dark young adult magical fantasy and of Tim Curry should enjoy this book.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cher R. Eaves
  • 2007-10-07

Stands alone

This thread of the story is close enough to Sabriel to be an old friend, but far enough to be new and interesting. Excellent as sequels go, Lireal doesn't burden the returning reader with reruns of Sabriel. It's a great stand-alone story, too. Tim Curry is the kind of narrator who could enthrall by reading a cereal box.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Arwen
  • 2012-07-01

Artfully crafted coming-of-age fantasy

It was delightful to revisit the series that my twelve-year-old self counted as my absolute favorite of all time. I cannot think of a more talented or appropriate narrator for this book than Tim Curry. Between the excellent prose and Curry's performance, this familiar coming-of-age tale took on a new level of greatness. What I love most about Lireal is Nix's ability to portray a strong, but fallible human being who goes through the same insecurities that we all face while taking on impossible odds. The world of fantasy constructed by Nix is further explored and illuminated in this novel, and if anything, this sequel is better than its predecessor, Sabriel, which is also excellent. I would recommend it to readers of all ages because this book, and series, is one of the most artfully crafted, enthralling, and lingering fantasies I've ever encountered.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anne C.
  • 2019-10-16

Flawless narration, mediocre story.

This was nowhere near as good as Sabriel. The characters aren't nearly as compelling, although I liked some more than others.

My favorite portions were the explorations by Lirael and the Disreputable Dog.

It may be awhile before I continue with this series...

3 stars.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel P.
  • 2019-08-11

Just OK just like book one

After the second book in the Abhorsen series, Lirael, I’m still not that impressed. Although I did think this was slightly better than the first book it was just ok to me. I did enjoy the charater of Lirael more than Sabriel and I like the addition of Sammeth but I never really felt that connected to any of the characters. Although Sabriel and Touchstone are still in this book this takes places years after book one and the focus has shifted to a new protagonist, Lirael, and their son Sammeth.

Just like the first book, this book wasn’t all bad though and I enjoyed the side characters more than the main characters. The Disreputable Dog was a good addition and we got more to see more of Mogget which is my favorite character of the series. I also like Sammeth’s friend Nick and his view on magic and the world, I’d like to have seen a bit more of his character in the story though. The world and magic systems are also interesting but I’d just like to know more about both of them. I’m not sure what it is but this book is almost good and if Nix would have provided more information and world building I think this could have been an excellent book.

Although I’m not sure what’s going to happen in book three but this book definitely ends on a cliff hanger. It almost seems like book one was written as a stand-alone and I’m assuming books 2 and 3 are going to be like a duology. I’m interested to see how the story ends and I’ll read the third book but unless it really hooks me I doubt I’ll read any other books in the series.

As far as the narration goes I’m not a huge fan of Tim Curry for this book. Everything is read clearly and it was a bit better than book one but it’s just a dull reading of the book to me. I guess that fits with my thoughts on the book though, the books just ok and his narration is just ok.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Tcana
  • 2019-05-11

Didn't love it

I really liked Sabriel and was expecting more. There were too many coincidences and stupid decisions that will make you upset .

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bblhoops8
  • 2019-03-01

slow slow EXCITEMENT slow TRUE HORROR

after reading Sabrial this book is starkly different. it's much slower and the characters are absolutely passive in their power over the story.

I look forward to Abhorsen to finally finish this story.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Standiford
  • 2018-10-22

A bit of a disappointment...

Compared to the first book, this book is disappointing. The two main characters are so whiny and depressed. A lot of the book is them complaining about how awful their life is and feeling sorry for themselves. ughhh.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 2018-02-01

good follow up, but it's no sabriel!

Tim Curry as always was great. My only problem is how whiny Sam and Lirael were, I get that it's who they are but only so much I can take.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2017-08-03

Weak story great world building

Super slow start. Both characters are incredibly insecure and it mainly picked up by the end. But as always the world building and magic are awesome. I did like the cliffhanger!

1 person found this helpful